Career Opportunities

Typical performing arts jobs

Actors communicate characters and situations to an audience through dialogue, body language and actions. They typically interpret the work of a writer under the instruction and support of a director, although some actors might devise a character themselves or improvise the responses of a character to a situation. The type of work and media varies immensely, spanning roles on the stage, in film or television and on the radio.

Acting is unfortunately not the most secure of professions – it is very competitive, and there are likely to be periods where you might struggle to find work. However, if you love acting and have a talent for it, there’s no reason why you can’t pursue this career. To get started, you’ll need to build up a showreel of experience in a good variety of roles, as being versatile will make it easier to find work. You might also consider finding an agent, who may be able to find roles and arrange higher pay for you but will take a proportion of your earnings as a fee.

Dancers use movement to interpret music, tell stories and express emotion, often under the guidance of a choreographer. You might dance in front of live audiences or in recorded performances for TV, film or music videos. Dancers can work and specialize in a variety of dance forms, and you’ll be more likely to find work if you can perform in an assortment of styles. You’ll need to have good rhythm and timing, be able to stay focused, work hard and stay enthusiastic.

If you have a talent for dancing, and the willpower to succeed, this career could be for you. To increase your chances of finding work, you should build up a network of contacts and promote yourself, again possibly with the help of an agent. You could also supplement your income by working as a dance teacher or choreographer.

Musical theatre performer
Musical theatre performers are generally ‘triple threats’ – skilled in singing, dancing and acting. This can be a demanding career, with eight shows a week being the norm, and competition for roles is fierce. However, as with acting and dancing, there’s no reason you can’t succeed as a musical theatre performer if you’re determined, talented and passionate about what you do. You should try and gain as much experience as you can, make connections in the industry, keep challenging yourself to develop your existing skills and build your confidence as a strong performer.

Dance-, music- or drama- therapist Therapist
These performing arts jobs allow you to use your love of the dance, music or drama to help individuals of all ages overcome personal difficulties. Dramatherapists use activities such as group work or roleplay to encourage people to come to terms with their emotions and express themselves, helping them to overcome or progress on their social or personal difficulties.  Similarly, music therapists use music to help people deal with feelings they can’t put into words. You’ll use music creatively to establish a shared musical experience and aim for therapeutic goals. Dance movement therapists use movement and dance within a therapeutic atmosphere to help people who are facing physical, psychological, emotional or mental problems.

To gain entry in one of these performing arts jobs, you’ll need a postgraduate qualification in your sector of choice, as well as paid or unpaid experience in helping people overcome problems or difficulties.

Theatre director Theater director
Theater directors bring scripts to life on the stage, working closely with everyone involved to create a show that connects with the audience. They’re in charge of the practical and creative interpretation of a dramatic script or musical score and are involved in the whole process from start to finish. Some theatre directors write, design or act in their own work. To become a theatre director, you should try and make yourself indispensable at your local theatre as an assistant, perhaps starting with an amateur theatre group and working your way up, gaining strong skills and repute as you go.

If you have a passion for creating scripts, and a strong interest in digital media, this career could be for you. You’ll use your imagination to create engaging stories for a range of formats, from films to television and even computer games. You’ll need determination, motivation and the ability to meet strict deadlines. Don’t worry if you’ve never formally studied writing before – skill is what counts, and you could develop your skills by joining a writers' organization.

Other performing arts jobs

Arts administrator
Arts administrators organize art activities and services and ensure they are successful. They work for various organizations such as theatres or museums. If you’re passionate about the arts and like managing and organizing, this career could be for you, enabling you to gain a different perception of art. You will need strong administration, organization and IT skills for this role.

Theatre stage manager
Another performing arts career in which you’ll need good organization skills is that of a theatre stage manager, in charge of making sure shows run smoothly. You’ll also need great people skills to manage and network with everyone else involved in the show, including front-of-house staff and the director. This role can be demanding but offers opportunities for both personal and group achievement. To gain entry to this role, you’ll need to have practical experience in theatre work.

Broadcasting presenter
Broadcasting presenters are the public face or voice of programs presented on television, radio and the internet. They entertain and inform their audiences by presenting information or entertainment in an open and attractive way, generally interacting with the audience and perhaps interviewing guests. This is another competitive area so you’ll need to be driven and enthusiastic, with a strong interest in television/radio. You’ll also need to build up as much relevant paid or voluntary work experience as possible, probably working your way up from an assistant role, and gaining the prerequisite skills as you go.

Teacher/higher education lecturer Dance teaching
If you want to use your love of the performing arts to motivate and inspire young people and encourage budding talents, a career in teaching could be very rewarding. You could specialize in a particular form of performing arts, and perhaps run a drama club to encourage even more interaction with the performing arts outside of teaching hours.

A list of jobs that require a music degree:
  • Accompanist (public and private schools, music schools and performing arts camps; religious centres and schools; dance rehearsals and performances; other venues)
  • Acoustics specialist
  • Arranger
  • Artist management
  • Artistic director
  • Arts administrator/arts management  (includes box office, concert series, programming house manager)
  • Audio production, editing
  • Band director (K-12, college, military, sports)
  • Clinician
  • Choral director
  • Collaborative pianist
  • College admissions director, assistant
  • Community music school director
  • Composer
  • Composing for musical theatre
  • Concert Manager, promoter
  • Conductor (orchestras: K-12, college, community, youth, domestic/international)
  • Copyist, transcriber
  • Copyright consultant
  • Cruise ship entertainer
  • Digital score recordist
  • DJ
  • Educator (K-12, college, university, conservatory, religious organizations, private studio)
  • Electronic production and design (including audio engineering, mastering, mixing, music directing, producing, program directing, programming, recording engineer, studio manager, MIDI technician)
  • Entrepreneur
  • Entertainment lawyer; music business lawyer
  • Event production, management, planning, technology
  • Film scoring (Composing, editing, supervising, arranging/adapting, mixing, conducting, orchestrating, synthesis specialist, theme specialist) 
  • Fundraiser, grant writer
  • Historian
  • Instrument builder, designer
  • Instrument company or music store (owner, manager, sales)
  • Lecturer (schools, media, cruise ships, community)
  • Librarian
  • Lyricist
  • Marching Band Director
  • Marketing
  • Master classes
  • Media development
  • Merchandise management
  • Merchant
  • Military bands
  • Music agent
  • Music business
  • Music consultant
  • Music critic or reviewer
  • Music curator
  • Music editing engineer
  • Music engraver
  • Music for game development
  • Music industry
  • Music licensing and clearance
  • Music online and print magazine writing, editing, publishing
  • Music preparation
  • Music production
  • Music publishing
  • Music school administrator
  • Music supervisor
  • Music therapist
  • Music web producer
  • Music instrument repair and tuning
  • Musical theatre
  • Musicologist
  • Orchestrator
  • Performer (Vocal and instrumental soloist, session musician, orchestra/band/group member, background vocalist or instrumentalist, performing artist, show band. Venues may include business meetings, conferences, cruise ships, weddings, hotels, restaurants, clubs, religious events, orchestral contractor.)
  • Personnel Manager (orchestras, arts organizations, shows, events)
  • Piano technician, tuner, mover
  • Pit orchestra musician 
  • Playback singer
  • Promoter
  • Public relations agent or coordinator
  • Radio – programming, research, management
  • Recording (producer, engineer)
  • Recruiter for talent agencies, universities, etc.
  • Religious music – sacred music
  • Royalty analyst, royalty accountant
  • Sales
  • Score coordinator
  • Session musician
  • Song contractor
  • Song producer
  • Song recordist
  • Songwriter (including composer, lyricist, producer; jingle writing for television, radio and internet; freelance work; librettist)
  • Sound mastering
  • Sound technician (sound engineer)
  • Sound design
  • Summer camp music director/staff
  • Talent representation (booking, management)
  • Talent scout
  • Technical music assistant
  • Tours/road work (road manager, sound technician, tour coordinator, tour publicist)
  • Vocal coaching
  • Vocal contractor
  • Wellness (injury prevention and intervention)
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