There are several ways to become a ringmaster. The ringmaster is one of the most distinctive and key features of a circus, acting as the person who introduces acts, draws the attention of the audience, and deals with unexpected events which may occur during performance. Circuses of all sizes and styles utilize ringmasters in their performances, and a talented ringmaster can earn a very high salary for his or her services.
The ringmaster is an entertainer who also acts as a master of ceremonies and public relations representative. The first requirement of anyone who wants to become a ringmaster is that he or she should be familiar and comfortable with performance environments. It is also important to be able to improvise, and to be able to spend long hours on one's feet. Ringmasters must usually be physically active in the ring although they do not do tricks. Depending on the circus, the ringmaster may also need to be willing to handle questions from the audience and to be involved in advertising and outreach to promote the circus and its activities.
One way to become a ringmaster is to go to circus school and receive training in the circus arts, performance, and the skills needed to be a ringmaster. Numerous circus schools offer ringmaster programs, with graduates learning a variety of skills which will be useful for circus careers. Students usually have an opportunity to practice while in school when the school puts on performances, and once they graduate, they can apply for work with small circuses and gradually work their way into positions with bigger companies.
Someone who wants to become a ringmaster can also opt for training as an actor or general performer. Some people acquire these skills through the process of working as actors, while others may attend acting school, drama programs at colleges and universities, and so forth. Several notable ringmasters have been recruited from places like Broadway, where they are spotted for their potential to work as ringmasters.
In some cases, someone may become a ringmaster by working up in the circus ranks. This usually requires training in the circus arts, or apprenticeship in a circus. After working in different performance positions and learning about how the circus works, the would-be ringmaster might be invited to try being the master of ceremonies. One advantage to working one's way up is that it gives the ringmaster an intimate familiarity with all aspects of how a given circus works, and this can be useful when introducing acts, handling emergencies on stage, and engaging with members of the public.