Amateur, Pro, Or Enthusiast?
If you've been involved in magic for any time, you'll hear people classifying other people (and themselves) into rather broad categories based on experience and talent. Though the newcomer may be somewhat mystified by the jargon, there are really three types of people who dabble in magic: the Enthusiast, the Amateur, and the Professional.
Now the enthusiast is the magic dealer's dream come true.
He's the one who loves to buy these cool brass contraptions that have absolutely no purpose whatsoever than to be a magic trick and never thinks ahead about how he's going to sell it to his audience (wife, parents, dog):
"No, really, this is just a NORMAL BRASS CYLINDER."
Still, it's a lot of fun. He's probably not going into professional magic (those sleights are hard!), but he's having a good time showing off to the neighborhood kids, and as far as hobbies go, well, it's a lot safer than sky diving - so long as you avoid the flash pots.
Of course, if you're a true enthusiast, you WON'T be able to resist the flash pots. Oh, and that contraption you wear around your wrist that lights and shoots wads of flash paper? Got to have it!
An amateur, despite the what the term implies, is someone who's actually going to work a little harder on her magic. She's not a refined professional, she may have never done a performance for anyone other than her cat, but she practices the art. The amateur is known to frequent the magic store, but it's usually for the latest books and instructional videos rather than the newest unbelievable, best-trick-of-our-time, solid brass gimcrack.
Some amateurs may get their feet wet with an occasional performance; some may make a second career of it, getting gigs at the lodge or the church fund-raiser in an attempt to perhaps someday move into the professional realm. Other amateurs may be happy practicing the craft for its own sake. "Magic for the sake of magic," one might say.
The pro is what you may or may not aspire to. And chances are, if you're wondering about it and reading this article to find out, you're probably not a professional magician! Although the term "professional" has somewhat lost its meaning in this day and age, its most basic definition is someone who does an activity as his main occupation. In other words, the professional magician isn't spending his days behind a computer keeping the books for the local plumbing supply company. So even if you've done a gig for the Elks or for your friends' kid's birthday party for twenty dollars, you're not really a professional until you've ditched the 8 a.m. commute and are living off your skill as a magician.
Of course, if you're an enthusiast or an amateur and are enjoying your status as such, then by all means, continue to enjoy yourself! Keep doing what you love at either level; you'll find magic a very fulfilling hobby or avocation. And if you're ready to make the leap as a professional, study hard, watch your angles, and take your best shot!