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Ring Around The Circus: Challenges Facing Acrobats

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In 2007 it was estimated that there were approximately 31 circuses in the United States, employing almost 1200 people in a variety of circus disciplines and generating approximately $184 million annually. It is also suggested that for acrobats or high flying performers there is almost always a job opening; good news for those who could qualify and may still be stuck among the 5.3 percent of unemployed Americans. Since an experienced acrobat or trapeze artist can make anywhere from about $40,000 to $70,000 annually, the potential for earning can become a big part of the attraction for working in the circus industry. 

However, there are a few things that need to be considered before departing for one of the few finishing schools for the circus arts. Here are two such areas to examine thoroughly before deciding on the suitability of becoming a circus acrobat.

High employee turnover

It might seem strange that such a small number of circuses could possibly almost always have employment available. One way to explain it would be that being an acrobat requires extreme physical exertion and the profession is prone to work-related injuries that can end your career. Some of those jobs also have a short time span for using your extensive physical abilities. It is also suggested that up to 80 to 90 percent of acrobatic performers have to leave their jobs due to muscle or soft tissue strain rather than to a single major accident. 

Awe-inspiring and death-defying performances that are repeated in up to 3 performances daily, take a lot of work, time and patience. The physical and emotional sacrifices associated with a life on the road for circus performers that can span for up to 9 months for the year can also be quite difficult for many people to accept.

Employee compensation

While such disciplines as musicians, jugglers and clowns may be able to retain their jobs for many years, the fact that there are all kinds of dangers at a circus can put everyone at risk. Workers compensation in the circus often does not take into consideration the losses that are experienced by the performer, especially one who would be paid per performance and by virtue of the difficulty of the routine. 

Depending on the state in which you may have sustained your injury, as well as the cause of the injury, the compensation that you may be entitled to may be a lot less than your potential for earning. Since there is currently no specific formula for determining loss of earning, especially for high performers such as acrobats, you might find yourself at a huge disadvantage for getting the compensation that you deserve. At that time it would certainly pay to know a good workers compensation lawyer.