As far as non-traditional career paths go, circus careers may be king. I mean, it’s not exactly something you tell your future father-in-law the first time you meet him, is it? It doesn’t really scream business card material. And yet there is some attraction in our minds, some senseless fantasy about sneaking out of your house and running away to become a juggler or an elephant trainer. (I actually have a great-grandfather who ran away with a Chinese circus, so maybe it’s just me…)

Along this train of thought, I began to wonder how one enters a career path with the circus. How does one qualify themselves to be the Bearded Woman or a knife-swallower? Inquiring minds want to know, so I went digging… but didn’t find much.

So now I’m reaching out to you internet researchers for help.

Tight rope – Also known as funambulism, this art requires one to walk dozens of feet above the ground on a length of wire only a half-inch wide. I found some information on the metrics on this art but nothing on how to become one. Can anyone help me out with this?

Fire-eating – Cool stuff. There is actually a Sideshow School at Coney Island, NY, where you can learn fire-eating. They also offer programs in snake charming, sword swallowing, and burlesque (if you’re, uh, into that kinda thing). The Spice Group in the UK (possibly an offshoot of the Spice Girls?) is rumored to also have a decent fire-eating training program. Couldn’t find anything about them online. Help me out…

Clown – I have a deep-seated fear of clowns. Poltergeist started it. It put the nail in the coffin. But anyway, for those who are interested in becoming a clown (go figure), it looks like there are clown schools out the wazoo. Just google ‘clown school’…

Lion-taming – I turns out you can start down this path at a traditional 4-year college. A good start is a bachelor’s degree in Biology, Zoology, or Psychology (Who knew?). The degree is followed by some rigorous on-the-job training. So trainees must be in top physical and mental shape. This is kind of the traditional path for anyone who wants to work with animals in show business.

The Dog-faced Man – This is a joke, of course. When it comes to this career, either you’ve got it or you don’t. I suppose some high doses of testosterone would improve your chances. Just realize, such a choice will have serious implications for your personal life. There’s a reason why those guys are called freaks.

So, can you help me out, internet researchers?

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