Front of House
‘Front of house’ work includes various jobs in live events such as usher, box office assistant and box office/front of house manager.
What is the job like?
All these front of house jobs involve working with the public, and you could be working at outdoor events such as festivals or indoors in concert venues.
The work of an usher includes:
- Showing people to their seats, and ensuring people with disabilities have all the access they need
- Selling programmes and possibly ice-creams
- Answering queries from the public
- Assisting the public to enter and exit the venue safely
- Ensuring the venue is clean and tidy.
Box office work includes:
- Using computerised box office ticketing systems to sell tickets
- Handing cash
- Providing administrative support to venue managers
- Receptionist duties at the venue
- Dealing with the public face-to-face and over the phone.
Box office managers may also perform the following duties:
- Managing the team and dealing with a wide range of people including promoters and venue managers
- Monitoring ticket sales
- Producing reports and financial information for management and therefore contributing to the effective running of the business.
Front of house jobs involve working irregular hours during the evenings and weekends, although some of the work also takes place during the day.
How do I get into front of house work?
Junior positions, such as usher, provide excellent experience in front of house work. You can then apply for box office roles as they arise.
Employers often look for experience of this kind of work.
Academic qualifications may not always be essential, although a good standard of education is normally required. There is lots of competition for jobs in this area.
A friendly and helpful personality is important for front of house work as you will be dealing with the public all day. Patience is perhaps one of the most important requirements, along with stamina, particularly for ushers, who are on their feet all day.
A good level of numeracy is necessary for box office work, as well as well-developed IT skills. You also need to be a team-player and able to work in a fast-paced environment.
It is always worth approaching possible companies with a well-prepared CV and covering letter or email as jobs may not always be widely advertised.
Employers often look for experience of this kind of work. Whilst at school you can start to build up experience by helping with school or community productions.
What training and qualifications do I need?
Apprenticeships can be a possible way into front of house work. Apprenticeships are available at two levels – intermediate and advanced.
Academic entry qualifications for apprenticeships can vary, although most employers will look for a good standard of English and Maths at GCSE as a minimum. However, enthusiasm and a proven interest in the work can be equally important. If you choose the apprenticeship route, you will earn money, gain skills and achieve work-related qualifications at the same time.
As box office work is seen as a way into live events many of the applicants are well-qualified with HND or degree qualifications, in theatre studies and so on.
School qualifications including English, maths, IT, drama/theatre studies and music at GCSE, AS and A level are all relevant for front of house work.
Possible courses include:
- BTEC Level 2 Performing Arts/Music/Business Studies
Entry is usually with 2 GCSE (A-D) passes or equivalent.
- BTEC Level 3 Performing Arts/Music/Business Studies
Entry with 4 GCSE (A-C) passes or equivalent.
- College and online courses that include IT skills are also an advantage for this work.
- Degree courses in Theatre and related areas including music
Entry to degree courses is with a minimum of two A levels of equivalent and a proven interest in the chosen subject.
What can I earn?
A typical starting weekly wage for an intermediate apprentice outside London could be £110 per week. In London the starting wage might be between £120 and £150 per week. This could increase to around £170 per week during the apprenticeship.
Earnings for front of house staff can vary greatly according to the size and location of the venue. Casual temporary contracts are common, where wages can start at the minimum wage for an usher or box office assistant and rise with more experience. If you work for a large venue or are based in London wages are normally higher.
A box officer manager might start on around £8.20 an hour, which equates to an annual salary of £17.056. Box office managers with more experience, or who are based in London might earn between £18,000 - £22,000 and possibly more.