Jobs For Drama Graduates: What Can I Do With a Performing Arts Degree?

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Are you finding it hard to convince yourself (or your parents) that a performing arts degree can pay off? Is your last college production looming with the uncertainty of post-graduation life on the horizon? Don’t worry: There are countless career paths you can pursue with a performing arts degree—and not all of them are on stage or screen. Learn why this track is beneficial for young creatives, plus more than a dozen possible career options and the salaries that come with it.


Types of performing arts degrees

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Typically, a performing arts program will land you either a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA) degree. If you’re wondering how to choose between a B.A. or BFA, it depends on what you’re seeking. B.A. programs are more academically diverse and research-based, while BFA tracks focus more deeply on firsthand performance experience. 

While most programs under these two umbrellas allow you to pick and choose minors and majors to tailor your track, they usually center around one of three disciplines: 


Drama degrees balance the study of specific acting techniques, voice coaching, improvisation, and stage combat with history and theory. These programs often culminate with actual experience onstage or in front of a camera


Dance programs develop your performance techniques with focuses on choreography, movement, and music appreciation. Supplementary focuses include topics like kinesiology, dance literature, and technical stage production. 


Music programs teach the technical skills for composing original music and performing alongside more academic subjects, such as music theory, history, and literature. Students can declare a specialty—a specific instrument, for example—from the outset or allow one to develop as they experiment and learn.

Why should you consider a performing arts degree?

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Artistically, pursuing a performing arts degree gives you time to figure out exactly what you want your journey to look like.

“A degree program primarily gives you some protected time to explore your identity as an artist,” says Dr. Brian Granger, assistant professor of theater at Ohio Wesleyan University. 

Taking time to earn a degree in the arts also sets you up with numerous transferable disciplines—such as communications, public speaking, and interpersonal skills—that are useful in a wide range of fields. 

“Performing arts degrees teach you to see the world through the eyes and words of others,” says Nicole Ruark, artist-in-residence at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts. “Understanding someone else’s story and being able to communicate their needs, goals, and viewpoints is a highly desirable skill in careers such as customer relations, sales, teaching, and leadership.” 

By gaining an understanding of yourself as an artist and a broader range of communication skills, performing arts graduates are well-positioned to navigate a freelance and contract-heavy job market. “Many [graduates] can also seek to create careers for themselves entrepreneurially,” says artistic director and music career coach Jennie Brown. “Understanding [your] own unique talents and interests can help craft a career that is both gratifying and sustainable.”

Performance careers with an arts degree

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If you’re considering a performing arts degree, chances are you want to, well, perform. Here are five careers that will put you (or your voice) in the spotlight. 

  • Actor: You could star in live shows or act in front of a camera crew for commercials, television shows, or on the silver screen. Your salary as an actor will vary depending on your experience, the duration of the job, and the medium, but the average ranges from $22,500 to $62,000. 
  • Dancer: Entertain audiences using movement to tell stories and express emotion for a diverse range of productions. You could take to the stage with the New York ballet, dance alongside your favorite singers in their music videos, or set sail and dance on cruise lines. The average salary for a dancer is $66,987 a year. 
  • Musician: Write, perform, and record songs, either for yourself, a band, or for musical productions. You could perform in your own band, in an orchestra, or work as a session musician. You could also make music for theater, commercials, or video games. The average salary for a professional musician is $43,350 a year.
  • Voiceover artist: There are numerous niches for voiceover actors, including commercial work, video game acting, audiobook narration, and anime dubbing. The average salary for a voiceover artist is $81,166 a year. 
  • TV broadcaster: TV hosts introduce and present a show, interview guests, and interact with a live audience. You could be a game show or talk show host, a children’s TV presenter, a newsreader, or a sports announcer. The median salary for a TV presenter is $56,735 a year.

Non-performance careers with a performing arts degree

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Your career options as a performing arts graduate aren’t limited to the stage or screen. While you likely will have to complement your current skill set with new job-specific ones, an arts degree is a great springboard. Here are a few potential routes:


Oversee every practical and creative aspect of a theatrical production, film, TV show, or commercial to bring a script to life. Most drama degrees offer a directing concentration to help you learn the practical know-how and the communication and negotiation skills you’ll need to succeed in this role. The average salary for a director is $51,730 a year.

Script writer

Write scripts for theatrical productions, TV shows, or films. Some performing arts programs offer writing concentrations to help you develop your style, and you may even get the chance to write and perform your own shows while earning your degree. The average salary for a script writer is $61,024 a year.


This role is responsible for getting films, TV series, and theatrical productions off the ground. This often includes securing financing, assembling a creative team, and overseeing the process from beginning to end. Producers need a broad knowledge of media production and communication, as well as hands-on experience with handling multiple creative departments and organizing their workload. The average salary for a producer is $53,820 a year. 

Arts educator

One of the most common post-degree options is teaching the arts at all educational levels, whether that’s kindergarten or college. Salaries vary based on educational level and the school’s budget; private school teachers, for example, make on average $34,885 a year, while public school teachers make an average of $42,837 a year. For college professors, the average salary is $58,468 a year. 

You could become a drama, dance, or music teacher, professor of the arts, or grade school teacher. A performing arts degree program will teach you how to add intonation and volume to your voice, enabling you to captivate your students’ attention and teach them effectively. The median salaries for teachers is $32,396; for professors, it is $58,468.

Arts administrator

Organize artistic endeavors for galleries, theaters, symphonies, museums, or community events. This often involves managing a staff while organizing budgets and schedules. A performing arts degree will instill the love of the arts necessary to thrive in arts administration while also building up your skills in communication and growing your network of peers in the industry. The average salary for an arts administrator is $46,045 a year. 

Drama, music, or dance therapist

Employed in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and private or public mental health treatment facilities, drama therapy uses theater techniques to work through patients’ trauma and facilitate personal growth. Your performing arts degree will establish the baseline techniques and history knowledge necessary; but becoming a therapist requires further study, such as a master’s degree in counseling. The average salary for a drama therapist is $64,865 a year, while dance therapists make an average of $61,181 a year and music therapists $59,913 a year.

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These experts on plays, operas, and musicals work behind the scenes to provide productions with effective dramatic composition, theatrical insights, and accuracy. A performing arts degree will equip you with critical literary studies, a broad knowledge of theater history, and the research skills you’ll need to thrive in this role. The average salary for a dramaturg is $53,414 a year. 


Craft and maintain the public reputation and media appearances of clients, companies, or brands. A performing arts degree track not only teaches you essential problem-solving, storytelling, and communication skills, but it also broadens your network within the entertainment industry. The average salary for a publicist is $53,174 a year. 

Set designer

Design and create sets for film, television, and theater to help realize the visions of the director and producer. The hands-on aspects of a performing arts degree are essential to learning the ins and outs of proper set design, as well as how live productions operate. The average salary for a set designer is $54,457 a year.

Stage manager

Oversee, organize, and ensure proper communication of a production’s practical and technical aspects to ensure the performance runs smoothly. Stage management can be learned as part of your BFA, along with the soft skills you’ll need, such as organization, problem-solving, and a sharp eye for detail. The average salary for a stage manager is $36,885 a year. 

Theatrical makeup artist

Develop a style for every character in a show that reflects the time period, story, and setting. Some degree programs will offer minors in stage makeup; there are also programs exclusively for theatrical hair, makeup, and prosthetics studies. Working toward a degree will also equip you with strong communication skills and a sound understanding of stagecraft so you can liaise effectively with other departments. The average salary for a theatrical makeup artist is $49,465.

Broadcast technician

Set up, operate, and maintain the technical equipment required to record and broadcast a show. With a performing arts degree, you will gain experience with the technical studio equipment used in this role, time management skills, and the ability to be a creative problem solver and remain calm under pressure. The average salary for a broadcast technician is $55,130.

Casting director

Research, audition, and select talent for TV, film, theater, or radio performances. A degree program will make you well-versed in all aspects of performance and the preproduction process, as well as provide networking opportunities for your future Rolodex. The average salary for a casting director is $65,722 a year. 

Art consultant

Provide expert advice to individual clients and businesses on acquiring and displaying artwork. A well-rounded degree program can combine the necessary business and budgeting skills with the required knowledge of art history and technique. The average salary for an art consultant is $31,821 a year. 

Talent agent

Find and secure work for your clients, who can include performers, filmmakers, musicians, and writers. Pursuing an arts education allows you to start building the extensive network you’ll need to flourish in this role, as well as providing insights into the creative process and the business side of the entertainment industry. The average salary for a talent agent—which is often based on the success of your clients—is $41,239 a year.