Major Overview

If you have a passion for the stage and revel in musicals, Shakespeare plays and live comedies, you may be interested in a degree in Drama and Theater Arts.

Students in the Drama and Theater Arts take classes in theater history, acting, costume design, stage movement, voice, directing, and scene design to learn about the necessary steps to produce a performance. You will participate in performances and learn about the behind the scenes and skill work necessary to ensure a successful production.

While some students enjoy taking classes in all aspects of Drama and Theatre Arts, others decide to specialize in areas such as Theater Design and Technology, Playwriting and Screenwriting, Theater Literature, Acting, Directing and Theatrical Production, Musical Theater, or Costume Design.

Required Skills

Depending on your area of specialization, your courses will require different skills. Acting requires memorization, public speaking and stage presence, while playwriting requires creativity and strong writing skills. Students interested in directing tend to be leaders, while costume designers are creative and skilled in fashion design. Those interested in theater tech may work behind the scenes with lighting and sound. However, all Drama and Theater Arts students have a passion for theater and tend to be good communicators.

A career in Drama and Theater Arts is usually fulltime, but work hours vary depending on the area of specialization. Critics attend productions, but spend most of their time in the office writing reviews. Directors and actors work long hours practicing and performing, while screenwriters and costume and set designers may work more typical hours with overtime when approaching a deadline. An internship or summer job in theater will allow you to work closely with a professional in your desired area of specialization and learn more about the profession.

Those interested in this field usually practice their skills with theater productions in high school and college. You can also get involved in community productions. College allows you to hone your skills and prepare for a professional career in the field.

Careers

Drama and Theater Arts graduates work for a variety of companies within the performing arts field. Some graduates work with musical theater companies touring with the production, some are on Broadway, some graduates have gone into the motion picture company, and others work for performing arts magazines or venues. A degree in Drama and Theater Arts provides students with the skills to be a member of any company or organization within the acting field.

Entertainment and performing arts are growing at an average rate; however, this can be a very competitive profession in some areas. Those who are successfully typically have a lot of practice and experience under their belt.

Drama and Theater Arts graduates earn an average starting salary of $34,446 and mid-career salary of $54,079.

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Major at a Glance

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Yearly Graduations
 12,213
Average Starting Salary
$34,446
Average Mid-Career Salary
$54,079

Example Careers

Here is a small sample of the careers that a degree in Drama & Theater Arts might open up.

Actors
Art, Drama, and Music Teachers, Postsecondary
Choreographers
Dancers
Entertainers and Performers, Sports and Related Workers, All Other
Fashion Designers
Music Directors and Composers
Musicians and Singers
Producers and Directors
Set and Exhibit Designers
Writers and Authors
Salary data is estimated by College Factual using 2013 data provided by PayScale.
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