Pageant directors are some of the most passionate pageant enthusiasts in the industry. They are not only knowledgeable of their system and pageantry as a whole, but they are also organized, outgoing people who can get a job done. These experts don’t just work pageant weekends. Their hard work is put in year-round to ensure the reputation of the system is in good hands and their titleholders’ reigns go smoothly.
Right before contestants can strap on swimsuits, slick up their teeth with Vaseline, and practice their parade wave for the Judges, a pageant director has massive work to do. A pageant director is tasked with putting the entire pageant together, from recruiting talent to hiring judges to make sure there are prizes for the contestants to win.
If you are a pageant director, note that you will spend much of the year seeking funding for your pageant. You will meet up with local and national business representatives, telling them about your pageant and why it is an attractive event. You may sell space in a program, or offer to promote products onstage. You should also ask for donations to give as prizes.
Once you have the prizes secured, you start seeking and recruiting contestants. You dangle the prizes like a bait and try to lure people to the competition. You screen applicants and pick the best people to compete. You may also teach these contestants the proper way to stand, walk, or wave so that they have a better chance of winning.
Also note that you have to find a venue to hold your pageant, and supervise a team that will decorate the venue. You must recruit famous people to work as judges, and put together scorecards for them to use.
Note that on the day of the pageant, you must respond to questions and deal with problems as they occur. You only breathe a sigh of relief when the pageant is over and you can stop planning. You may also give yourself a week’s vacation before you begin work on the next show.
Common Ways Pageant Directors Make Money
Unless you are building or starting your own pageant, the pageant director normally is paid a salary to supervise and coordinate the organizational, financial, and ceremonial aspects of beauty pageants.
According to research, pageant directors earn an average annual wage of $68,400 per year. The annual salary of pageant directors equates to $32.90 per hour when factored across a standard 40-hour workweek, although many work long and sporadic hours, particularly when leading up to event dates.
Note that pageant directors earn relatively competitive wages when compared to producers and directors in other realms of entertainment. According to industry reports, producers and directors employed by performing arts companies earn $59,820 per year on average, a rate nearly 15 percent less than the average earnings of pageant directors.
Producers and directors employed in the radio and television broadcasting industry also earn similar wages with an average annual salary of $72,030, an increase of just six percent over the average income of pageant directors.
How to Become a Pageant Director in 10 Steps
If you have a fascination with pageants and you believe you have what it takes to become a pageant director, then it wouldn’t be a bad time to give that dream a push. Indeed, you can go from watching on television to running the show. Here are few steps to take.
- You have to first get prepared to venture into this career. While there is no particular education required, it is always advisable to be a prior committee member, judge, contestant, stylist, retailer, or photographer in a capacity that has exposed you to the industry. You can also become certified to judge pageants in the Miss America system, although this is not a requirement to become a director in other systems.
- You will also have to consider the system to leverage. The Miss America Organization and the Miss USA Pageants are among the hardest to get directorships in. There are usually many waiting in line that has already put in a significant amount of time and work. Shoot small by contacting state pageants for smaller systems, such as Miss United States or Miss Teen America.
- Brush up on your history and understanding of the particular system. Learn who the current queens are, their scoring system, and also general knowledge of the organization. Also, decide where you’d be interested in specializing. However, being the business manager for the pageant is one of the key positions that lead to a director.
- At this point, prepare a detailed pageant resume. This will be different from your professional one. It will include your experience in the industry and any other points of interest. If a job is relevant to a directorship, such as events planning, fashion, or public relations, you should include it.
- Put together a meeting with the national director in a small system or the state/local director in a larger system. Ask about open positions for volunteers. Also ask if there are currently any directorships available, although working for a system for a few years is recommended.
- Arrange for the meeting just like you would any other interview. Be more mindful of your attire as you should look like a pageant director by being polished and poised. Tell those doing the interview that you understand most directors and volunteers are unpaid or have small stipends. There are also others where you must pay directorship fees. Be open to these options.
- Work in various capacities on the board that deals with both organizations and those that deal directly with contestants, such as in outreach. Within a year, it might also be useful to work for another organization for more experience.
- Keep networking with other systems and attend events like wardrobe showings, state pageants, and popular preliminaries. Also consider becoming a pageant trainer for aspiring contestants, taking into account that there might be a conflict of interest.
- Consider additional training at this point, and some organizations in your area might offer pageant boot camp or even consider becoming a columnist and writer for a pageant magazine, such as “Four Points.” This will increase your visibility and also make you desirable to other pageant systems.
- Begin to re-apply for director positions after you’ve completed all of these steps and have been involved for 9 to 12 months.
Just like it was stated above, most pageant directors in the United States work under an entertainment company and earn a designated salary. Local pageants are the best place for budding pageant directors to begin. There is far less pressure, a smaller budget and it is easier to land one of these jobs.
Successful local pageant directors sometimes can even move up to state directors. However, aspiring pageant directors are expected to possess some formal artistic production training. Any formal training in stage production including set design, theatrical lighting, and live audio amplification is also advantageous.