IPA Provides Useful Information about the Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Industry

Arts, Entertainment and Recreation


  • More than 40 percent of all workers have no formal education beyond high school.
  • Employment growth, along with substantial replacement needs, should create numerous job opportunities.
  • Earnings are relatively low, reflecting the large number of part-time and seasonal jobs.


As leisure time and personal incomes have grown across the Nation, so has the arts, entertainment and recreation industry. This industry includes more than 108,000 establishments, ranging from art museums to fitness centers. Practically any activity that occupies a person’s leisure time, excluding the viewing of motion pictures and videotape rentals, is part of the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry. The diverse range of activities offered by this industry can be categorized into three broad groups—live performances or events; historical, cultural or educational exhibits; and recreation or leisure-time facilities.

Live performances or events. This segment of the industry includes professional sports, as well as establishments providing sports facilities and services to amateurs. Commercial sports clubs operate professional and amateur athletic clubs and promote athletic events. All kinds of popular sports can be found in these establishments, including baseball, basketball, boxing, football, ice hockey, soccer, wrestling and even auto racing. Professional and amateur companies involved with sports promotion also are part of this industry segment, as are sports establishments in which gambling is allowed, such as dog and horse racetracks and jai alai courts.

A variety of businesses and groups involved in live theatrical and musical performances are included in this segment. Theatrical production companies, for example, coordinate all aspects of producing a play or theater event, including employing actors and actresses, costume designers and lighting and stage crews who handle the technical aspects of productions. Also included are agents and managers, who represent actors and entertainers and assist them in finding jobs or engagements. Booking agencies line up performance engagements for theatrical groups and entertainers.

Performers of live musical entertainment include popular music artists, dance bands, orchestras, jazz musicians and rock-and-roll bands. Orchestras range from major professional orchestras with million dollar budgets to community orchestras, often with part-time schedules. The performing arts segment also includes dance companies, which produce all types of live theatrical dances. The majority of these dance troupes perform ballet, folk dance or modern dance.

Historical, cultural or educational exhibits. Privately owned museums, zoos, botanical gardens, nature parks and historical sites make up this segment of the industry; publicly owned facilities are included in sections on Federal, State or local government elsewhere in the Career Guide. Each institution in this segment engages in the preservation and exhibition of objects, sites and natural wonders with historical, cultural or educational value.

Recreation or leisure time. A variety of establishments provide amusement for a growing number of customers. Some of these businesses provide video game, pinball and gaming machines for the public at amusement parks, arcades and casinos. Casinos and other gaming establishments offering off-track betting are a rapidly growing part of this industry segment. This segment also includes amusement and theme parks, which range in size from local carnivals to multi-acre parks. These establishments may have mechanical rides, shows and refreshment stands. Other recreation and leisure-time services include golf, skating rinks, ski lifts, marinas, day camps, fireworks display services, go-cart rentals, rodeos, riding stables, waterslides and establishments offering rental sporting goods.

This segment of the industry also includes physical fitness facilities that feature exercise and weight loss programs, gyms, health clubs and day spas. These establishments also frequently offer aerobic dance, yoga and exercise classes. Other recreation and leisure-time businesses include bowling centers that rent lanes and equipment for tenpin, duckpin or candlepin bowling.

These facilities may be open to the public or available on a membership basis. Sports and recreation clubs open only to members and their guests include some golf courses and country clubs, and yacht, tennis, racquetball, hunting and fishing, and gun clubs. Public golf courses and marinas, unlike private clubs, offer facilities to the general public on a fee basis.


Jobs in arts, entertainment, and recreation are more likely to be part time than are those in other industries. In fact, the average non-supervisory worker in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry worked 25.7 hours a week in 2002. Musical groups and artists were inclined to work the fewest hours, due to the large number of performers competing for a limited number of engagements which may require a great amount of travel. The majority of performers are unable to support themselves in this profession alone and are forced to supplement their income through other jobs.

Many types of arts, entertainment, and recreation establishments dramatically increase employment during the summer and either scale back employment during the winter or close down completely. Workers may be required to work nights, weekends, and holidays because that is when most establishments are busiest. Some jobs require extensive travel. Music and dance troupes, for example, frequently tour or travel to major metropolitan areas across the country, in hopes of attracting large audiences.

Many in this industry work outdoors, whereas others may work in hot, crowded, or noisy conditions. Some jobs, such as those at fitness facilities or in amusement parks, involve some manual labor and, thus, require physical strength and stamina. Also, athletes, dancers and many other performers must be in particularly good physical condition. Many jobs include customer-service responsibilities, so employees must be able to work well with the public.

In 2002, cases of work-related illness and injury averaged 6.3 for every 100 full-time workers, higher than the average of 5.3 for the entire private sector. Risks of injury are high in some jobs, especially those of athletes. Although most injuries are minor, including sprains and muscle pulls, they may prevent an employee from working for a period.


The arts, entertainment, and recreation industry provided about 1.8 million wage and salary jobs in 2002. Over half of these jobs were in the industry segment other amusement and recreation industries—which includes golf courses, membership sports and recreation clubs and physical fitness facilities.

Although most establishments in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry are small, more than half of all jobs were in establishments that employ more than 50 workers.

The arts, entertainment, and recreation industry is characterized by a large number of seasonal and part-time positions and by workers who are younger than the average for all industries. Nearly half of all workers are under the age of 35. Many businesses in the industry increase hiring during the summer, often employing high school and college-age workers.


About 57 percent of wage and salary workers in the industry are employed in service occupations. Amusement and recreation attendants—the largest occupation in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry—perform a variety of duties depending on where they are employed. Common duties include setting up games, handing out sports equipment, providing caddy services for golfers, collecting money and operating amusement park rides.

Fitness trainers and aerobics instructors lead or coach groups or individuals in exercise activities and in the fundamentals of sports.

Recreation workers organize and promote activities such as arts and crafts, sports, games, music, dramatics, social recreation, camping and hobbies. They generally are employed by schools; theme parks and other tourist attractions; or health, sports and other recreational clubs. Recreation workers schedule organized events to structure leisure time.

Gaming services workers assist in the operation of games such as keno, bingo, and gaming table games. They may calculate and pay off the amount of winnings or collect players’ money or chips.

Tour and travel guides escort individuals or groups on sightseeing tours or through places of interest, such as industrial establishments, public buildings, and art galleries. They may also plan, organize, and conduct long-distance cruises, tours and expeditions for individuals or groups.

Animal care and service workers feed, water, bathe, exercise or otherwise care for animals in zoos, circuses, aquariums or other settings. They may train animals for riding or performance.

Other service workers include waiters and waitresses, who serve food in entertainment establishments; fast food, and counter workers, and cooks and food preparation workers. who may serve or prepare food for patrons; and bartenders, who mix and serve drinks in arts, entertainment and recreation establishments.

Building grounds, cleaning, and maintenance occupations include building cleaning workers, who clean up after shows or sporting events and are responsible for the daily cleaning and upkeep of facilities. Landscaping and groundskeeping workers care for athletic fields and golf courses. These workers maintain artificial and natural turf fields, mark boundaries, and paint team logos. They also mow, water, and fertilize natural athletic fields and vacuum and disinfect synthetic fields. Establishments in this industry also employ workers in protective service occupations. Security guards patrol the property and guard against theft, vandalism and illegal entry. At sporting events, guards maintain order and direct patrons to various facilities. Gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators observe casino operations to detect cheating, theft or other irregular activities by patrons or employees.

Professional and related occupations account for 11 percent of all jobs in this industry. Members of one of the most well-known, athletes and sports competitors, perform in a variety of sports. Professional athletes compete in events for compensation, either through salaries or prize money. Organizations such as the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the National Football League (NFL) sanction events for professionals. Few athletes are able to make it to the professional level, where high salaries are common. In some professional sports, minor leagues offer lower salaries with a chance to develop skills through competition before advancing to major league play.

Coaches and scouts train athletes to perform at their highest level. Often, they are experienced athletes who have retired and are able to provide insight from their own experiences to players. Although some umpires, referee, and other sports officials work full time, even in professional sports the majority usually work part time and often have other full-time jobs. For example, many professional sport referees and umpires officiate at amateur games, as well.

Musicians and singers may play musical instruments, sing, compose, arrange music, or conduct groups in instrumental or vocal performances. The specific skills and responsibilities of musicians vary widely by type of instrument, size of ensemble, and style of music. For example, musicians can play jazz, classical or popular music, either alone or in groups ranging from small rock bands to large symphony orchestras.

Actors entertain and communicate with people through their interpretation of dramatic and other roles. They can belong to a variety of performing groups, ranging from those appearing in community and local dinner theaters to those playing in full-scale Broadway productions. Dancers express ideas, stories, rhythm, and sound with their bodies through different types of dance, including ballet, modern dance, tap, folk and jazz. Dancers usually perform in a troupe, although some perform solo. Many become teachers when their performing careers end. Choreographers create and teach dance and may be called upon to direct and stage presentations. Producers and directors select and interpret plays or scripts and give directions to actors and dancers. They conduct rehearsals, audition cast members, and approve choreography. They also arrange financing, hire production staff members and negotiate contracts with personnel.

Archivists, curators, and museum technicians play an important role in preparing museums for display. Archivists appraise, edit and direct safekeeping of permanent records and historically valuable documents. They may also participate in research activities based on archival materials. Curators administer a museum’s affairs and conduct research programs. Museum technicians and conservators prepare specimens, such as fossils, skeletal parts, lace and textiles, for museum collection and exhibits. They may also take part in restoring documents or installing and arranging materials for exhibit.

About 9 percent of all jobs in this industry are in sales and related occupations. The largest of these, cashiers, often use a cash register to receive money and give change to customers. In casinos, gaming change persons and booth cashiers exchange coins and tokens for patrons’ money. Counter and rental clerks check out rental equipment to customers, receive orders for service and handle cash transactions.

Another 9 percent of jobs in this industry are in office and administrative support occupations. Receptionists and information clerks, one of the larger occupations in this category, answer questions and provide general information to patrons. Other large occupations in this group include general office clerks and secretaries and administrative assistants. Gaming cage workers conduct financial transactions for patrons in gaming establishments. For example, they may accept a patron’s credit application and verify credit references to provide check-cashing authorizations or to establish house credit accounts. Also, they may reconcile daily summaries of transactions to balance books or sell gambling chips, tokens or tickets to patrons. At a patron’s request, gaming cage workers may convert gaming chips, tokens or tickets to currency.

Management, business, and financial occupations make up 6 percent of employment in this industry. Managerial duties in the performing arts include marketing, business management, event booking, fundraising and public outreach. Recreation supervisors and park superintendents oversee personnel, budgets, grounds and facility maintenance, and land and wildlife resources. Some common administrative jobs in sports are tournament director, health club manager and sports program director.

Installation, maintenance and repair occupations make up 4 percent of industry employment. General maintenance and repair workers are the largest occupation in this group.


More than 40 percent of all workers in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry have no formal education beyond high school. In the case of performing artists or athletes, talent and years of training are more important than education. However, upper level management jobs usually require a college degree.

Most service jobs require little or no previous training or education beyond high school. Many companies hire young, unskilled workers, such as students, to perform low-paying, seasonal jobs. Amusement parks prefer workers who are at least 17 years old. Employers look for people with the interpersonal skills necessary to work with the public.

In physical fitness facilities, fitness trainer and aerobic instructor positions usually are filled by persons who develop an avid interest in fitness and then become certified to teach. Certification from a professional organization may require knowledge of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR); experience as an instructor at a health club; and successful completion of written and oral exams covering a variety of areas, including anatomy, nutrition and fitness testing. Sometimes, fitness workers become health club managers or owners. To advance to a management position, a degree in physical education, sports medicine or exercise physiology is useful.

In the arts, employment in professional and related occupations usually requires a great deal of talent. There are many highly talented performers, creating intense competition for every opening. Performers such as musicians, dancers and actors often study their professions most of their lives, taking private lessons and spending hours practicing. Usually, performers have completed some college or related study. Musicians, dancers, and actors often go on to become teachers after completing the necessary requirements for at least a bachelor’s degree. Musicians who complete a graduate degree in music sometimes move on to a career as a conductor. Dancers sometimes become choreographers and actors can advance into producer and director jobs.

Almost all arts administrators have completed 4 years of college, and the majority possess a master’s degree or a doctorate. Experience in marketing and business is helpful because promoting events is a large part of the job.

Entry-level supervisory or professional jobs in recreation sometimes require completion of a 2-year associate degree in parks and recreation at a junior college. Completing a 4-year bachelor’s degree in this field is necessary for high-level supervisory positions. Students can specialize in such areas as aquatics, therapeutic recreation, aging and leisure, and environmental studies. Those who obtain graduate degrees in the field and have years of experience usually can obtain administrative or university teaching positions. The National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) certifies individuals who meet eligibility requirements for professional and technical jobs. Certified Park and Recreation Professionals must pass an exam; earn a bachelor’s degree with a major in recreation, park resources, or leisure services from an NRPA/American Association for Leisure and Recreation accredited program; or earn a bachelor’s degree and have either 2 or 5 years of relevant full-time work experience, depending on the bachelor’s degree chosen.


Earnings in arts, entertainment, and recreation generally are low, reflecting the large number of part-time and seasonal jobs. Non-supervisory workers in arts, entertainment and recreation averaged $301 a week in 2002, compared with $506 throughout private industry.

Earnings vary according to occupation and segment of the industry. For example, some professional athletes earn millions, but competition for these positions is intense, and most athletes are unable to reach even the minor leagues. Many service workers make the minimum wage or a little more. Actors often go long periods with little or no income from acting, so they are forced to work at second jobs.

Because many amusement and theme parks dramatically increase employment during vacation periods, employment for a number of jobs in the industry is seasonal. Theme parks, for example, frequently hire young workers, often students, for summer employment. Also, many sports are not played all year, so athletes and people in the service jobs associated with those sports often are seasonally employed.

Employers in some segments of this industry offer benefits not available in other industries. For example, benefits for workers in some theme parks include free passes to the park, transportation to and from work, housing, scholarships and discounts on park merchandise.

Although unions are not common in most segments of this industry, they are important in professional sports and the performing arts. Many professional athletes, actors, and performers are members of unions. Consequently, earnings of athletes and performers are often determined by union contracts that specify minimum salary rates and working conditions.


Wage and salary jobs in arts, entertainment, and recreation are projected to increase about 28 percent over the 2002-12 period, compared with 16 percent for all industries combined. Growing public participation in arts, entertainment and recreation activities—reflecting increasing incomes, leisure time, and awareness of the health benefits of physical fitness—will provide a large market for establishments providing arts, entertainment and recreational services.

Changing demographics of the Nation also will have a major impact on industry employment. For example, arts, entertainment and recreation facilities are expected to increasingly target the growing elderly population. Consequently, employment opportunities may be better in those establishments, such as cruise ships and golf courses, that serve active adults between 50 and 75 years old. Continued growth in hospital and hotel fitness centers and instructional exercise programs, especially those designed and marketed for retirees, also should lead to more job openings. Growth also is expected in those arts, entertainment and recreation facilities, such as health spas and fitness centers, that cater to younger adults in their twenties and thirties with steadily rising incomes.

In addition to these increases, employment in the performing arts will grow steadily, along with demand for entertainment from a growing population. However, the supply of workers in this segment also will expand because of the appeal of these jobs, ensuring continued intense competition. Additionally, amusement and theme parks should experience rapid growth and offer many seasonal and part-time job opportunities.

The arts, entertainment, and recreation industry has relied heavily on workers under the age of 25 to fill seasonal and unskilled positions. Although the pool of these workers will grow in coming years, opportunities should be good for young, seasonal, part-time and unskilled workers. In addition, the industry is expected to hire a growing number of workers in other age groups.

Industry data is republished with permission by the Bureau of Labor Statistics

IPA, a management consulting firm, is focused on North American small and medium-size privately held businesses. We have guided many clients through effective application of advanced methods in sales, financial planning, cost control, advertising, marketing and management.

IPA has helped more than 170,000 companies control costs, maintain positive cash flow, and accelerate profitable growth. IPA allows owners to get the most out of their businesses. Read about the latest IPA information:

Site Map | Privacy Policy | Contact Us
©2005 - 2019 IPA