Stage manager

production manager
Performing arts and media

Career outlook for stage manager

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would make sure live stage performances run smoothly. You would organise the practical and technical aspects of rehearsals and shows, and make sure that all crew and performers are in the right place at the right time.

You would probably be helped by a deputy stage manager and one or two assistant stage managers. On smaller productions you might work alone.

You and your team would:

  • Run rehearsals
  • Work with others to plan wardrobe, set design, scene changes, sound and lighting
  • Manage the props budget and organise props and set dressing
  • Learn the performers’ positions on stage, script changes, and the props, lighting and sound needed for each scene
  • Work with theatre managers and front-of-house staff
  • Supervise setting up and taking down before and after each show
  • Let the performers know when to go on stage
  • Let the technical crew know when to make sound and lighting changes

You might also join in with putting up the set and any other practical tasks, particularly in small companies or at the start of your career.

Understanding health and safety rules would be very important.

Working conditions


Hours can be long and unsocial. Meetings and rehearsals usually take place during the day, but during performances you would work mainly in the evenings. You would often be the last to leave the venue late at night.


You might be permanently based at one venue, or you might travel to different venues when on tour.


You would need a driving license in order to transport props. Travel away from home might be involved if your production were to go on tour.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Delegating
  • Taking responsibility
  • Making decisions
  • Time management
  • Developing a plan
  • Attention to detail
  • Verbal communication
  • Cooperating

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


Entry is very competitive.

There are no set qualifications required to enter this role but many stage managers train as actors first. Increasingly entrants have a degree or Higher National Diploma (HND) in a relevant subject, such as:

  • technical and production arts
  • technical theatre
  • drama
  • theatre studies
  • music

You can enter some Technical Theatre or Performing Arts National Certificate or National Qualification courses (SCQF 2-6) with no formal qualifications but most courses ask for National 4/5 qualifications (SCQF level 4/5).

You can enter Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications. 

To enter a degree (SCQF level 9/10) usually requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of three Highers or a relevant HNC/HND. 

You should check that Drama UK accredits or recognises the degree course you are considering.

Useful subjects

  • English (required by many courses)
  • Drama (required by many courses)
  • Social subjects such as history or media (required by many courses)
  • Maths
  • Modern languages
  • Other expressive arts subjects
  • Design-centred subjects

You will also need

You normally need experience in amateur or student productions.

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that demonstrate understanding of the industry, creative and organisational skills such as Skills for Work Creative Industries (SCQF level 5).