How to become a stage manager: Pete's story

Meet Pete and find out more about life as a stage manager. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

I think if you really want do something like that, like really wan't to do it, you just do it and you just hope that the opportunities come.

  • Pete’s main job is as a touring musician. He plays drums and other instruments for artists. His background as a musician opened up opportunities for him in stage management. As he knows the stage from a performance point of view, he was asked to stage manage and has recently worked at Bluedot Festival

  • A typical day involves him getting there early to see who’s going to be on stage and making sure he has everything he needs for the acts

  • He is the son of two musicians and always wanted to be a musician himself. Although he didn’t study Music at school, he focused on playing instruments in his spare time. When exploring career choices at school, a career in music didn’t even come up as an option

  • Pete says a lot of people want to work in stage management and it can sometimes be seen as a glamorous industry or a free gig ticket, but it's actually hard work. You need to be driven and be prepared to work long hours. You also need to be friendly and be able to tell people when it’s time to get off the stage, so that the acts don’t overrun.

What to expect if you want to be a stage manager

Stage managers make sure the sound equipment is ready for the opening of a performance. They also work in theatres, making sure the equipment, set and props are ready.

  • Typical stage manager salary: £18,000 to £45,000
  • Typical stage manager working hours: 39 to 41 hours per week. You could work evenings, weekends and bank holidays.
  • Typical entry requirements: You could take a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in Stage Management, or a related subject like Performing Arts Production or Theatre Practice. You'll often need practical backstage experience to apply for a course. You can get relevant experience from working as a casual stagehand in local music venues or in student, amateur or community theatre, depending where your interest is. You'll usually need one or two A-levels (or equivalent) for a foundation degree or higher national diploma or two to three A-levels (or equivalent) for a degree. You could do a college course, for example Level 3 Diploma in Production Arts or Level 4 Professional Diploma in Technical and Production Practice. The skills you'll learn on these courses could help when you look for a trainee assistant manager job with a stage or production company. You'll usually need four or five GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for a Level 3 course or one or two A-levels (or equivalent), a Level 3 diploma or relevant experience for a Level 4 or Level 5 course.

You can join the Stage Management Association for professional recognition, training opportunities and to make industry contacts.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

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