How to become a festival programme director: Emma's story

Meet Emma and learn more about her job as Bluedot Festival's programme director. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

My boss said he gave me the job because I'm passionate and not an idiot.

  • Emma works as a festival programme director for Bluedot Festival. The job entails project managing the festival, which includes choosing and booking the bands and working out the programming schedule. It also involves a lot of budgeting and negotiation skills and using a lot of spreadsheets so maths skills are important

  • Whilst working as a civil engineer, Emma started working at festivals in her spare time. She had a light bulb moment when she realised she could do this full time and get paid

  • Having worked for four and a half years in festival management, she says it was only after three years that she felt she really came into her own in the role. This is because it's an annual learning curve meaning you only get to see the whole process once a year

  • As part of her research for Bluedot, Emma sees a lot of different bands performing live and goes to several different festivals. As well as being great for planning, it's one of the perks of the job she really enjoys

  • The best part of the job for Emma is the satisfaction of seeing all those that attend Bluedot enjoying themselves. It's the culmination of all her hard work for the year

  • Emma's advice to anyone wanting to get into festival management is to be passionate and use common sense. The rest, she says, you can learn on the job.

What to expect if you want to be an events manager

A similar role to festival programme manger events manager.

  • Events manager salary: £17,000 to £80,000 per year
  • Events manager manger working hours: 37 to 39 hours per week. You may work evenings, weekends and bank holidays
  • Typical entry requirements: You can get this role through a university course, a college course, an apprenticeship, working towards this role and applying directly. You can take a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in Events Management, Marketing or Communications. You'll usually need one to two A-levels (or equivalent) for a foundation degree or higher national diploma or three A-levels (or equivalent) for a degree. Alternatively, you could do an events assistant advanced apprenticeship. You usually need five GCSEs (or equivalent) at grade 9 - 4 (A* to C), usually including English and Maths for an advanced apprenticeship.

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

Jess: Festival PR director
Jobs at music festivals and in the music industry
Felix: Stage manager