A career in the theater arts can mean a lifetime of erratic hours and erratic pay. It can be exhausting, time-consuming work. But for those who truly have a passion for the performing arts, such a career can be incredibly fulfilling and exciting.
Working professionally as an actor requires creative talent, instinct, and a natural ability to perform. While theater arts degrees provide the kind of formal career training often required for positions in this field, talent and experience are sometimes enough to get your foot in the door. However, there's a real benefit to formal training in theater arts. Such art & design programs may include courses in radio and television broadcasting, communications, dramatic literature, and theory of film and theater--subjects that are relevant whether you're interested in acting, directing, producing, voiceovers or narration, or even teaching theater arts classes. Students wishing to specialize in a particular subject within theater arts may take advanced courses such as playwriting and directing.
Theater Arts Degrees Career Opportunities
Competition for jobs in the theater world can be fierce. The reality is that the excitement of this occupation draws millions to it each year. The more career training, talent, and enthusiasm you have, the more likely that you'll succeed.
While employment for film actors is, of course, concentrated primarily in New York and Los Angeles, smaller production houses and studios exist across the country. Not only that, but major Hollywood films are certainly not the only avenue for those with theater arts degrees. Actors may hold many different jobs doing commercial work and local theater productions, even in smaller communities. Dinner theaters, cruise ships, and theme parks also provide opportunities to actors. And local community colleges or organizations often need those with acting experience to lead workshops or teach beginning drama classes.
Those interested in more behind-the-scenes work may find opportunities in radio or television, working in production jobs to help put shows on the air.
The Benefits of Theater Arts Career Training
It probably won't come as news to you that, unless you managed to secure a part in a major Hollywood film, the chances of earning millions of dollars in the theater arts are extremely slim. Many factors influence salary, including location, experience, training, and talent.
Salaries in the theater arts can be unpredictable, and often quite low--at least for those just beginning their careers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that median hourly earnings of actors were $11.61 in May 2006. However, those who manage to join a union, such as Actors Equity, can count on higher, more predictable wages.
Median annual earnings of salaried producers and directors in 2006 were $56,310; such production jobs often lead to higher, more reliable wages. Of course, wages and salaries for actors and theater professionals will vary greatly based on talent, education, and experience. Those with college degrees in theater arts are giving their careers a head start, not only by earning the necessary training, but by making connections that will be valuable throughout their careers.