2 high-paying jobs and 2 side hustles especially good for entertainment workers


As of April 2020, as many as 47% of people working in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector are unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With public health officials and economists alike saying large gatherings at concerts and theaters are unlikely anytime soon, many in the arts and entertainment industries are facing uncertainty about their future work prospects, too.

"The thing that just really scares me," says Nashville-based touring drummer Cam Brousseau, "is I don't know when my job will come back."

If you've been working in the entertainment industry as an artist or crew person and you're considering either a temporary or a permanent career change, your skill set could be applicable in a different field. Here are two high-paying jobs and two side hustles to consider.

Software engineer

Software engineers analyze tech users' needs and develop software to meet them. They design computer programs and smartphone applications, monitor their systems' efficiency, and make any updates necessary to ensure their tech runs smoothly.

While software engineering may seem technical, it can be quite creative, too. "A big part of creating a piece of art is world building," says Sarah Sandnes, songwriter, programmer, and co-founder of insurance company SafetyWing. "You create something that is a lot bigger in order to convey a small thing, to evoke an emotion or to share an experience. … When you're coding, that's essentially exactly what you're doing."

Broadway dancer Katerina Papacostas has been a coding instructor at the Flatiron School since 2018. When she began studying the subject, she says, "it was just a way to have a skill set that was more lucrative and a little less taxing than bartending and teaching fitness." It became a reliable and enjoyable way to earn money on the side. 

Median salary: $105,590 per year 

Find software engineer jobs on FlexJobsMonsterIndeed, and LinkedIn. Note that software engineers typically have a bachelor's in computer science.

Broadway performer shares what it takes to have a career in theater

Video by David Fang

Physical therapist

Physical therapists help people improve mobility and manage pain after an injury through exercise, stretching, and the use of various equipment. Some dancers "become physical therapists because they know the body so well," says Joe Benincasa, CEO of artist organization The Actors Fund.

Median salary: $89,440 per year 

Find physical therapy jobs on Indeed and Monster. Note that physical therapists need a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, and all states require physical therapists to be licensed.

A big part of creating a piece of art is world building. … When you're coding, that's essentially exactly what you're doing.
Sarah Sandnes
Co-founder, SafetyWing

Online teacher

"If you know how to play an instrument," says online marketing and business expert Amy Porterfield, "you should be teaching how to play that instrument online." That advice applies to acting, singing, dance, and many other skills related to the performing arts, too. 

  • TakeLessons is another platform for teaching your craft, with classes ranging from a 45-minute hip hop lesson for $100 to 30-minute lesson on how to do magic for $85. Note that TakeLessons requires all teachers to take a $19.95 background check, and that you'll make between 60% and 90% of your lesson price, depending on how many lessons you've taught.
  • Udemy lets you record online courses for people to download for a fee. Instructors can charge between $20 and $200 per course, and Udemy takes various cuts, from 3% to 75%, depending on how students find you. 


For crew members working in theaters, concert venues, and even at television and movie sets who're used to lifting heavy objects and doing strenuous physical work, moving may be a fitting side hustle. If you have a truck, consider listing moving services on platforms like TaskRabbit, where movers charge as much as $123 per hour.

If you don't have a truck, you can sign up to help other movers on sites like Dolly, where "hands," as they're called, make as much as $15 per hour, or Bellhop, where movers make up to $21 per hour, according to the site. Note that some services require you to be able to lift at least 75 pounds.

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