Careers with a Theatre Degree


Some theatre schools offer a bachelor of fine arts in drama or theatre that are conservatory-style in nature, for the purpose of preparing you for work in theatre-related professions immediately upon graduation.


Other schools are more open-ended in their curriculum, and may not be as thorough in formally guiding you into a future career.


Either way, if you’re considering theatre as an academic focus, or you’re a current student or recent graduate, you need to have a broad understanding of what you can do with this degree. You have more career options than you might imagine, and it’s because of the skills you'll learn as a student.


Upon graduation you should be armed with a set of skills that are directly applicable to various careers in theater, such as "actor", "playwright" or "producer". Perhaps you’ve specialized in a specific area, thus making you more qualified for a specific field over others; we’ll get more into that below.



What You Can Do With a Theatre Degree

While studying theatre at the university level, you can also acquire a set of highly employable transferable skills, and you can use these to pursue a career that's outside of the field.


If you’re not quite ready to jump into a career upon graduation, that’s okay too. An undergraduate theatre degree also helps prepare you for graduate study or professional training in one of the many specialized disciplines of theatre. 


Below we've outlined the skills this degree will teach you, and what careers you can pursue based on those skills. Each career also includes occupational information, such as your expected salary level, the education and experience you'll need, personal traits you'll need, and an overview of what it would be like to work in that field.





Theatre Degree Objectives and Subject Matter

Undergraduate theatre programs are typically a combination of in-depth academic studies and rigorous practical training. The coursework of these programs typically aims to help you develop technical skills ad explore the creative process in all areas of theatre, including:


• Acting

• Directing

• Playwriting

• Theatre Analysis/Criticism

• Costume Design/Development

• Set Design/Construction

• Lighting Design

• Sound Design

• Prop Design/Construction

• Stage Management

• Artist Management


It is also common for these programs to mount fully staged productions, as well as workshop performances throughout the year. These productions typically include students at every level of production, whether on stage or backstage.


Although the workload can be quite heavy, with many hours of rehearsal and theatre production added to classroom and study time, there is a great opportunity for camaraderie that not many other academic disciplines can offer.



Employable Skills for Careers in Theatre

Theatre programs are meant to familiarize you with the various elements of theatre (such as acting, stage management, costume design, etc.), which allows you to develop employable skills in all of these areas.


Specializing in one of these areas will help your skills in that area develop even further. For example, a if you specialize in set design, you will still acquire familiarity with the area of stage management, although you will have greater skills and a deeper knowledge base in set design.


Some of the specific skills you can gain include familiarity or specialized knowledge in the following areas:


• On-stage management, such as coordinating acting and technical cues, entrances, exits and scene shifts

• Acting and receiving direction

• Integrating all technical elements of theatre, such as lighting and sound cues, scenery, and special effects

• Theatre technologies including digital sound, computerized light boards, technical drawing and scenic flying

• The process of collaborating work with various theatre specialists, such as writers, designers, producers and actors

• The business administration duties of theatre production, such as balancing a budget and ordering materials

• Engaging in critical theatre related research

• Maintenance of daily rehearsal schedules and costume fittings

• Manual and computer aided design techniques for theatre production





List of Careers Relevant For Your Degree

Careers most relevant to this degree are typically those that are concerned with the artistic, technical or administrative functions of theatrical and other artistic productions. Some of these occupations include:


• Actor

• Audio-Visual Technician

• Booking Agent

• Box Office Manager 

• Camera Operator

• Casting Director

• Composer

• Conductor

• Costume Designer

• Cultural Events Coordinator

• Dance Instructor

• Dance Specialist

• Drama Therapist

• Gaffer 

• Lighting Technician

• Magician

• Music Specialist

• Narrator

• Performing Arts Extra

• Personal Assistant to the Director

• Playwright

• Producer

• Production Assistant

• Production Coordinator

• Prop Maker

• Publicist

• Script Supervisor

• Set Designer

• Songwriter

• Sound Designer

• Sound Effects Designer

• Stage Manager

• Talent Agent

• Talent Coordinator

• Theatre Critic

• Theatre Director

• Theatre Manager

• University Professor

• Voice Coach

• Voiceover Actor

• Wardrobe Supervisor



Employable Skills You’ll Gain for Outside Careers

Studying theatre can provide you with a host of theater-specific skills. What many don’t realize, is that it can also provide you with a skill set that makes you a valuable asset for any organization; skills that are transferable to many outside professions. Such skills include:


• Ability to think on you feet

• Ability to work alone or as part of a team  

• Able to take criticism

• Active listening

• Adaptability to work environment  

• Analytical skills

• Determination

• Discipline

• Presentation skills

• Memorization

• Public Speaking

• Ability to operate within strict timelines

​• Writing and editing skills


Success Tip: Be aware, that in a cover letter or an interview, you should be prepared to explain how your skills are a great fit for the job!



Careers Outside of Theatre

Just because you graduated with a theatre degree does not mean you’re limited to careers that are directly related to the field. Some people change their minds about the kind of career they want to pursue when they graduate, and others can’t find suitable opportunities.


It would be a difficult thing to find yourself in one of these situations and feel like you’ve wasted your degree. Luckily, the general, transferable skills you’ve acquired are useful in a wide range of professions, including (but not nearly limited to):


• Activity Specialist

• Airline Customer Service Agent

• Blogger

• Broadcast Assistant

• Broadcaster

• Business Development Officer

• Customer Relations Clerk

• Customer Service Representative

• Elementary School Teacher

• Event Planner

• Film Director

• First Assistant Director

• Flight Attendant

• High School Teacher

• Interpretive Guide

• Music Video Director

• Realtor

• School Administrator

• Technical Director

• Volunteer Coordinator


Please Note: Many of the above listed careers require additional education, training and/or experience. Click on careers that are of interest to you to find out more about the specific requirements.



Graduate Salary Level

The salary you could earn as a theatre graduate is very difficult to determine, and can vary drastically based on a number of factors, including (not an inclusive list):


• Your level of education (such as if you went on to graduate studies)

• The industry in which you find work

• The type of job you have

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you work

• Other work experience you may have accrued

• Other skills you may have


Salary - Canada: According to a study in 2011 conducted by the Ontario Council of Universities, $34,653 CAD* is the average salary earned by Fine and Applied Arts graduates, 2 years after graduating from Ontario universities in 2010.


*This figure is a composite of all graduates who earned a Bachelor’s degree in the Fine and Applied Arts, not specifically for theatre graduates. Unfortunately, similar statistics for other Canadian provinces and the United States cannot be found from reputable sources.






Theatre Scholarships

Our scholarships database has Canadian and American scholarships related to this field of study, as well as scholarships for arts students in general, and those that are open to any field of study. 


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any and all scholarships for which you qualify, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships in Canada and the United States that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants.



Professional Associations

To find out more about careers directly related to your theatre degree, consult the following professional association websites. They occupation-related information, and many have opportunities for student membership, as well as job placement and mentoring opportunities.



Associated Designers of Canada

Canadian Actor's Equity Association

Canadian Association for Theatre Research

Canadian Theatre Critics Association

Playwrights Guild of Canada


United States

American Actors' Equity Association

American Alliance for Theatre and Education

American Association of Community Theatre

American Society of Theatre Consultants

American Theatre Critics Association

National Dinner Theatre Association



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