How to Join a Circus

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Circuses offer a variety of jobs, from performers to maintenance staff. Although these jobs are limited due to the relatively small number of circuses, opportunities exist for people with the right experience and the desire to travel. Understanding a few basic requirements can help you increase your chances of getting a job with the circus.

Consider the Possibilities

  • The first step to joining a circus starts with determining what position or positions interest you. Although jobs in the center ring are the most visible, circuses rely on large casts and crews to stage their shows. Circuses hire trapeze artists, clowns, contortionists, actors, singers, acrobats, tightrope walkers, trampoline performers, dancers, gymnasts and announcers. People who have musical skills can find work in circus bands as instrumentalists or band leaders. Behind-the-scenes positions include electricians, operations managers, animal handlers and trainers, tent masters and riggers, maintenance and housekeeping employees, ticket sales staff, vendors, drivers and artistic directors.

Practice Makes Perfect

  • Once you know what you want to do, you can learn or perfect the skills you need to get hired. Circus schools in a variety of locations throughout the United States teach students how to perform as aerialists, trapeze artists and other specialized circus positions. Classes at gymnastics, dance and performing arts schools can be helpful for future circus acrobats, dancers, trampoline performers, actors and singers. If you plan to work in the circus crew, previous experience in an area such as retail sales or electrical work can help. Positions in operations or management might require a college degree in a related field.

Apply Now

  • Applying for a circus job can be as simple as completing an online application or might require an audition video. If you want to work in circus operations, an application, resume and cover letter might get you an interview. A video showcasing your work is often necessary if you want to be a performer. For example, Cirque du Soleil requires potential performers to submit a video no longer than 12 minutes that includes biography, flexibility and strength sections and your complete act.

Show Your Stuff

  • If your application or video interests a circus hiring manager, he'll invite you to a telephone, in-person or webcam interview. Although standard interview rules apply, emphasize that you’re a flexible employee who likes to travel and enjoys the excitement of performing or supporting performers. If you’re a performer, check each circus website for a listing of open auditions. Circuses hold open auditions throughout the country. During open auditions, you’ll perform your act, but you might also have to learn a new routine, combinations or dance moves. If you get the job, you’ll receive information on your salary, benefits and travel schedule.

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  • Photo Credit Benjamin Haas/Hemera/Getty Images
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