Yes, you read that correctly – you can make money as a mermaid!
The art of mermaiding has become serious business indeed. It’s also an excellent way to combine a love for the ocean with performance art skills… and cute bikini tops!
We’re always eager to find out about out-of-the-ordinary careers, strange jobs and making money in the most creative ways. So, MoneyMagpie is diving into the depths to uncover the mysteries of making money as a professional mermaid.
Come join us for the swim!
- What do mermaids do?
- Where to train as a mermaid?
- Equipment required
- Where to be a mermaid?
- Be a mermaid for a good cause
- How much can you make?
Sure, it may sound a little too mystical for the more level-headed among us, but being a mermaid these days no longer revolves around luring sailors overboard. It’s simply the art of entertainment.
So, while a lithe body and a long breath may come in handy, making money as a mermaid really comes down to a love for the limelight – and the ability to keep a crowd coming back for more.
Where it all started
We can quite confidently trace the history of making money as a mermaid back to the early 1900s. That’s when the legendary Annette Kellermann carved out a career for herself as a specialist underwater vaudeville star. The dark-haired beauty first appeared on screen in a glittery tail and bikini top in the appropriately named film The Mermaid (1911) and later Queen of the Sea (1918).
Her legacy lived on in the likes of Ester Williams, an American actress and swimmer, who filled roles in films such as Million Dollar Mermaid.
The start of modern-day mermaiding
The mermaiding phenomenon we’re seeing unfold right now may has its roots directly in Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. With an 18-seat theatre submerged six feet under water, the park was the very first place known to host mermaid performances, starting in October 1947.
The tradition was instated by then owner, Newton Perry. He scouted out pretty girls, first from the US and then from all corners of the globe, and trained them to swim with air hoses and smile at the same time. Later, he added other novelties to their repertoire such as eating bananas and drinking soda under water – plus aquatic ballet.
Amazingly, the park is still going strong. Its mermaid shows remain a sought-after reference for anyone who dreams of making money as a mermaid.
Where we stand today
While mermaiding has hardly become mainstream, you can expect to enjoy performances at a variety of niche locations. You can fine them from the Disney Princess-themed kiddies’ party down the road to various aquariums and water parks around the world.
even men can do it
Since making money as a mermaid is really open to people of all ages and genders, the ‘maid’ is often dropped and performers are merely referred to as ‘mers’. Or even mermen.
Tickled by the idea?
Various training academies across the UK offer a range of courses. Check out the below to make money as a mermaid.
Mayim Mermaid Academy, Bournemouth
Founded by Michelle Forsbrey, known as MerShell in the mermaiding world, the Mayin Mermaid Academy has been making waves, receiving stellar reviews in various publications since 2015.
Forsbrey and her team offer four different courses, starting with mermaiding basics during Level 1 and progressing a five-day intensive Level 5 in partnership with The International Mermaid Swimming Instructors Association (IMSIA).
Although Level 1 is open to absolute beginners of all ages, the more advanced courses generally require participants to have a swimming instructor qualification, as well as a valid safeguard certificate.
While the prices for classes depend greatly on the size of the group and the quality of the pool being used, you can expect to pay about £80 per person for two-person classes, and £100 per person for one-on-one sessions.
Find out more on the Mayim Mermaid Academy website.
Freedive UK, Newquay
Freedive UK was the very first school to introduce mermaid courses in the UK. It remains a trusted name among dedicated mer-people.
The courses revolve around becoming comfortable underwater in a professional mermaid tail and fin.
Depending on the level you sign up for, students will learn the arts of graceful movement, swimming with their eyes open and generally just looking as beautiful as possible, despite the various discomforts.
A one-day introduction course will set you back from £100 per person. The more advanced three-day course, which covers all the basics of freediving, is £400.
Find out more by visiting the Freedive UK website.
Mermaids UK, North Devon
Similarly to Mayim, Mermaids UK was set up by trained swimming teachers as a response to the worldwide mermaid phenomenon.
Those wanting to undergo mer-training here must be at least six years old, able to swim 25 metres comfortably with their face submerged and demonstrate a basic dolphin kick for 5 metres.
Apart from their basic courses, Mermaids UK is also one of the top manufacturers of beautiful mermaid tails of high quality.
Depending on the size, you can expect to pay between £105 and £115 for an adult tail and £78 for children’s tails.
Find out more by visiting the Mermaids UK website.
The only equipment you really need to kick off your career is – you guessed it – an actual tail (and probably a matching top).
While starting off with an affordable fabric tail is a great idea, you may want to invest in a custom-designed silicone version later on.
As to be expected, these don’t come cheap. You could fork out anything from £1500 upwards per tail.
Joining a reliable agency may be your first and wisest step toward making money as a professional mermaid. The specialist agencies in the UK are:
From the safety of their networks, you may find some enticing opportunities in various places.
While it may seem silly, themed birthday parties are excellent opportunities to get your fin in the mother-of-pearl door. With Ariel being an all-time favourite Disney princess, you may want to invest in a fiery red wig, purple bikini top and turquoise tail.
As you work your way up, you may find opportunities to appeal to more diverse crowds. Corporate event organisers, for instance, may rope you in to help add an edge to bland canapes and boring small talk.
Aquariums and water parks
If you’re feeling comfortable with your repertoire, try performing for bigger audiences. A number of local aquariums host mermaid shows. Some may even be looking to do so in the future.
Finally, the skills you’ve acquired offer you the unique opportunity of making money as a mermaid by posing for underwater photographs.
Once again, make sure you don’t get ripped off. Book your shoots through a trustworthy agency.
One thing most mer-people have in common is a fierce love for the ocean and the desire to help protect it.
If you’re thinking of making money as a mermaid, work an educational edge into your performance. Focus on conservation. It’ll help to spread the word about the need to protect sea life, particularly when you do children’s parties.
As with all performance artists, making money as a mermaid requires a good deal of hard work and patience. At the start you may not get too many gigs. But as you become more experienced, network with potential employers and become known in the field, that should change.
According to Dazed, ‘dry’ performances where you don’t do any swimming could earn you around £35 an hour. Meanwhile, the rate for ‘wet gigs’ starts at about £50 an hour.
Of course, the more famous you get, the more you can charge. Also, the more skills you have, the more sale-able you become. Work on your swimming technique, keep your body in good shape, learn extras like aquatic ballet and you’ll be able to charge more.
So, work hard to make a name for yourself – and reap the rewards.