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Usher Job Description, Career as an Usher, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: On-the-job training

Salary: Median—$7.35 per hour

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Ushers work in theaters, stadiums, symphony halls, and other places where people gather to watch a performance or sporting event. Patrons hand their tickets to ushers, who lead or direct them to their seats. They tell patrons where to find telephones, restrooms, and the refreshment stand.

Ushers must learn how the seats in a given venue are numbered or alphabetized. In some cases there are no reserved seats and ushers merely help people find seats. In darkened theaters ushers frequently use flashlights to guide them. They also pass out programs, answer questions about performance times, and remind patrons to turn off cell phones and beepers during the event. Ushers make sure that fire exits are clear and unlocked. In the case of an emergency they help the people leave the theater in a safe, calm, and orderly manner.

Ushers have additional responsibilities that fall in the realm of customer service. For instance, they often help patrons search for lost items, keep unruly people under control, and ask people who are sitting in the wrong seats to move. When disorderly people do not heed the warnings of an usher, a head usher or security guard may be called in. In small theaters ushers often have to perform the duties of ticket takers. Ticket takers are responsible for seeing that only people who have paid the admission charge enter the theater.

Ushers have very little to do during the performance, so they usually get to watch the event free of charge. During theater intermissions or halftime at sporting events, they direct people to refreshment stands and restrooms. When the performance or event ends, ushers make sure that people leave the theater safely.

Education and Training Requirements

Ushers are trained on the job, but most employers prefer applicants who have a high school education. Ushers should be neat, courteous, and able to get along with all types of people. They may have to be firm and persuasive to quiet unruly guests or move people to their proper seats.

Getting the Job

Prospective ushers should apply directly to sports arenas, movie theaters, auditoriums, and theaters that present live drama. Job openings for ushers may be listed in newspaper want ads, on Internet job banks, and at state employment services. Where ushers are unionized, candidates should apply directly to the local union office.

Ushers direct or lead people to their seats before, and sometimes during, a performance or sporting event. It is their responsibility to help the crowd exit after the event or in case of emergency. (© Peter M. Fisher/Corbis.)

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Ushers may advance to head usher or security guard. Ushers who work for motion picture theaters may train as projectionists.

The employment outlook for ushers is good and job openings are expected to grow as fast as the average through the year 2014. Personal leisure time is increasing, and Americans are willing to spend their money on recreation. The largest number of job openings will occur to replace workers who retire or leave for other reasons.

Working Conditions

Ushers have to be on their feet for long periods of time. They usually work indoors in pleasant surroundings. Ushers who work outside at sports arenas and stadiums must be prepared to work in all kinds of weather. Because they deal with the public, ushers must be tactful, courteous, and patient. Theater ushers must know how to handle different audiences ranging from excited children at a Saturday matinee to mature, sophisticated theatergoers.

Many ushers wear uniforms. Employers may provide uniforms or a uniform allowance. Some ushers belong to labor unions. Ushers' schedules vary widely: some work fewer than twenty hours per week while others put in as many as fifty hours per week. They often work evenings, weekends, and some holidays.

Where to Go for More Information

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories, and Canada
1430 Broadway, 20th Fl.
New York, NY 10018
(212) 730-1770

Service Employees International Union
1313 L St. NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 898-3200

Earnings and Benefits

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ushers earn a median hourly salary of $7.35. Those who belong to unions receive higher pay than nonunionized workers. Occasionally ushers receive tips from patrons.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesHospitality and Recreation