Career Paths

Careers in Drama & Theater

There is no such thing as a typical career in drama and theater. You can work backstage on Broadway, be an actor in a theater production, manage a theater company, or be an opera singer. There are jobs for people of every age and background.

Career Information

Learn everything you need to know about careers in drama and theater with our comprehensive career guides.

Degrees & Majors

What degree is best for a creative career in theater? Find top college degree programs here.

Salary & Job Outlook

How much do artists working in theater and drama make? Explore salary info for a variety of professions.

Many people assume that careers in drama and theater are only available to those who have gone to school and studied theater. The truth is, there are all sorts of careers in the theater and drama world for those without degrees, as well as those with them. You can break into the theater business in many different ways, and you can specialize in varying aspects of the process as well. Acting, theater management, production management, technical production, marketing, administrative, and other roles are just a small sample of the available careers in the business of theater. What follows is a list of some different careers in acting, theater management, marketing, production management, administration and other areas.

Career Profiles

List of Careers in Drama & Theatre

There are all kinds of careers in drama and theater. If you’re interested in performing, be it on stage, television, or any other form of performance-based medium, there are many ways to do that. If you’re interested in directing theater productions or making your own theatre production company happen, there are people who work hard every day to make this happen. There are also lots of jobs for people who don’t necessarily want to perform but still want something related to the arts.

Casting Director

Casting directors are people in charge of helping actors, models, and television presenters get the most appropriate parts for their skills, bringing together talent and casting choices to create a cohesive production. Casting is basically the same process as finding an actor to play a role in a film.


A playwright is someone who creates and writes plays. A playwright might also be in charge of managing a group of actors, writers, designers, producers, stagehands and so on. Playwrights write scripts that are then staged as productions for audiences to watch on stages, in movie theaters orother forms of entertainment.

Set Designer

A set designer is responsible for designing the stage on which a play, ballet, opera, musical or similar performance takes place. The set designer works with members of the production team to create the physical aspects of the set, and may be responsible for designing costumes, props, makeup, and other theatrical elements.


An actor is a person that performs in a dramatic, entertaining, or musical performance. Being an actor requires a unique set of skills that cannot always be learned through traditional means. Actors are expected to mix personality and professional skills in order to bring life and authenticity onto the stage or screen.

Costume Designer

A costume designer creates the clothes that actors wear on stage or in front of a camera. They're responsible for designing clothing that helps tell the story and create believable personalities for each of the characters. They also help to oversee production design, which includes set decoration and props.


A screenwriter creates written scripts for films, television programs or video games. They must be able to create interesting character and plot lines and provide concepts for various aspects of the story including settings, props, and costumes or detailed notes about the history of locations that will appearin the story.

Theater Director

A theater director is the head of a theater production. They are in charge of making sure the production is running smoothly, maximizing performances by actors and singers, planning technical aspects of the production (sets, lighting, and special effects), and they have the final say in a production's creative decisions.

Degrees & Majors

Best Degrees for Drama & Theatre Careers

A degree in theater or drama-related studies is an excellent way to learn the intricate skills needed for acting, directing, sets design, and costume design in film. Theatre majors often go on to careers in the arts, while some also pursue careers in film. Theater and drama majors study a wide variety of skills and topics, from acting to costume design. For example, a major in theater may include courses in acting, stage direction, and dramatic literature. In addition to the general education courses required at most schools, theater majors may take classes in advanced drama, theater history and theory, and studio workshops.

Popular Majors in Drama and Theatre

Salary & Job Outlook

Drama & Theatre Salaries

Theater jobs are among the most varied in the entertainment industry. The salary and job outlook for theater professionals depend on your specific job title, location, and experience level. The careers in this field range from makeup artist to stage manager, and the earnings potential is approximately $68,500 per year on average for all theater professions. While that salary may not sound terribly exciting on its own, it is more than triple the national average salary for those without a bachelor’s degree. Below is an overview of professions with the highest concentration of workers in the theater industry.
Makeup Artists, Theatrical and Performance$106,920$51.4037%
Producers and Directors$96,690$46.4924%
Costume Designers$87,210$41.930%
Musicians and SingersN/A$41.7211%
Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators$67,590$32.5029%
Set and Exhibit Designers$64,610$31.069%
Dancers and Choreographers$52,000$25.0031%
* Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Art and Design Occupations, May 2020

Frequently Asked Questions

Drama and Theatre Careers FAQ

There is so much to love about theater. Whether you are singing, dancing, or acting, the theater offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to express yourself creatively and to let your inner artist come alive. A theater career can also be lucrative with the right mix of talent and determination. The theater world is not just limited to acting though. It can also be a wonderful stepping stone to other arts and entertainment careers such as filmmaking, set design, lighting design, and more. If you are passionate about the theater world, there are many ways you can make it a career.

If you want to start a career in the performing arts, a theater degree could be worth the investment. Theater programs are designed to give students a well-rounded mix of professional theater training, classical liberal arts knowledge, and performance skills. Graduates of theater programs typically go on to a broad range of dynamic performing arts positions both on stage, behind the scenes, and in a variety of other fields. The value of a theater degree lies in the wide range of expertise it provides.

Experience is helpful when starting out in theater, but there are many ways for someone who is new to get involved with theater. Many theaters require that you attend a few rehearsals or be part of an ensemble before joining the company. Some people audition through community-based theater groups, which are often free to join and can act as rehearsal spaces for companies looking for new members. If you’re interested in becoming an actor, there are also options including taking classes online or finding a mentor to help guide your acting career. Not all actors need experience, but it certainly helps if you want to pursue professional work in the field.