Jobs, Salaries and Career after Masters in Directing and Theatrical Production - Updated 2020

2018 median Pay for Directing and Theatrical Production

The median hourly wage for actors was $17.54 in May 2018.


Pay

They are frequently under the stress of having to find their next job. Some actors in touring companies may be employed for several years. Actors may perform in unpleasant conditions, such as outdoors in bad weather, under hot stage lights, or while wearing an uncomfortable costume or makeup. Work Schedules Work hours for actors are extensive and irregular. Early morning, evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. About 1 in 4 actors worked part time in 2016. Few actors work full time, and many have variable schedules.



Best paying jobs for Visual and Performing Arts


Number of Jobs for Directing and Theatrical Production

Number of Jobs in 2018 was 63,800


Education required

Some college, no degree


Job Outlook for Directing and Theatrical Production

Employment of actors is projected to grow 12 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Job growth in the motion picture industry will stem from continued strong demand for new movies and television shows.


Job description of Directing and Theatrical Production

Actors express ideas and portray characters in theater, film, television, and other performing arts media. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.

Duties

Actors typically do the following:

  • Read scripts and meet with agents and other professionals before accepting a role
  • Audition in front of directors, producers, and casting directors
  • Research their character’s personal traits and circumstances to portray the characters more authentically to an audience
  • Memorize their lines
  • Rehearse their lines and performance, including on stage or in front of the camera, with other actors
  • Discuss their role with the director, producer, and other actors to improve the overall performance of the show
  • Perform the role, following the director’s directions

Most actors struggle to find steady work, and few achieve recognition as stars. Some work as “extras”—actors who have no lines to deliver but are included in scenes to give a more realistic setting. Some actors do voiceover or narration work for animated features, audiobooks, or other electronic media.

In some stage or film productions, actors sing, dance, or play a musical instrument. For some roles, an actor must learn a new skill, such as horseback riding or stage fighting.

Most actors have long periods of unemployment between roles and often hold other jobs in order to make a living. Some actors teach acting classes as a second job.


How to become Directing and Theatrical Production

Many actors enhance their skills through formal dramatic education, and long-term training is common.

Education

Many actors enhance their skills through formal dramatic education. Many who specialize in theater have bachelor’s degrees, but a degree is not required.

Although some people succeed in acting without getting a formal education, most actors acquire some formal preparation through a theater company’s acting conservatory or a university drama or theater arts program. Students can take college classes in drama or filmmaking to prepare for a career as an actor. Classes in dance or music may help as well.

Actors who do not have a college degree may take acting or film classes to learn their craft. Community colleges, acting conservatories, and private film schools typically offer these classes. Many theater companies also have education programs.

Important Qualities

Creativity. Actors interpret their characters’ feelings and motives in order to portray the characters in the most compelling way.

Memorization skills. Actors memorize many lines before filming begins or a show opens. Television actors often appear on camera with little time to memorize scripts, and scripts frequently may be revised or even written just moments before filming.

Persistence. Actors may audition for many roles before getting a job. They must be able to accept rejection and keep going.

Physical stamina. Actors should be in good enough physical condition to endure the heat from stage or studio lights and the weight of heavy costumes or makeup. They may work many hours, including acting in more than one performance a day, and they must do so without getting overly tired.

Reading skills. Actors must read scripts and be able to interpret how a writer has developed their character.

Speaking skills. Actors—particularly stage actors—must say their lines clearly, project their voice, and pronounce words so that audiences understand them.

In addition to these qualities, actors usually must be physically coordinated to perform predetermined, sometimes complex movements with other actors, such as dancing or stage fighting, in order to complete a scene.

Training

It takes many years of practice to develop the skills needed to be a successful actor, and actors never truly finish training. They work to improve their acting skills throughout their career. Many actors continue to train through workshops, rehearsals, or mentoring by a drama coach.

Every role is different, and an actor may need to learn something new for each one. For example, a role may require learning how to sing or dance, or an actor may have to learn to speak with an accent or to play a musical instrument or sport.

Many aspiring actors begin by participating in school plays or local theater productions. In television and film, actors usually start out in smaller roles or independent movies and work their way up to bigger productions.

Advancement

As an actor’s reputation grows, he or she may work on bigger projects or in more prestigious venues. Some actors become producers and directors.


What people in similar profession do

Job Title What they do How to become one
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Conducting Music directors, also called conductors, lead orchestras and other musical groups during performances and recording sessions. Composers write and arrange original music in a variety of musical styles. Educational and training requirements for music directors and composers vary, although most positions require related work experience. A conductor for a symphony orchestra typically needs a master’s degree; a choir director may need a bachelor’s degree. There are no formal educational requirements for those interested in writing popular music. Education Employers generally prefer candidates with a master’s degree in music theory, music composition, or conducting for positions as a conductor or classical composer. Applicants to postsecondary programs in music typically are required to submit recordings, audition in person, or both.
Voice and Opera Music directors, also called conductors, lead orchestras and other musical groups during performances and recording sessions. Composers write and arrange original music in a variety of musical styles. Educational and training requirements for music directors and composers vary, although most positions require related work experience. A conductor for a symphony orchestra typically needs a master’s degree; a choir director may need a bachelor’s degree. There are no formal educational requirements for those interested in writing popular music. Education Employers generally prefer candidates with a master’s degree in music theory, music composition, or conducting for positions as a conductor or classical composer. Applicants to postsecondary programs in music typically are required to submit recordings, audition in person, or both.
Jazz/Jazz Studies Musicians and singers play instruments or sing for live audiences and in recording studios. There are no postsecondary education requirements for musicians or singers interested in performing popular music. However, many performers of classical music and opera have at least a bachelor’s degree. Education There are no postsecondary education requirements for those interested in performing popular music. Many musicians and singers of classical music and opera have a bachelor’s degree in music theory or performance.
Art/Art Studies High school teachers help prepare students for life after graduation. They teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market. High school teachers must have a bachelor’s degree. In addition, public school teachers must have a state-issued certification or license. Education All states require public high school teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Most states require public high school teachers to have majored in a subject area, such as science or history.
Fine/Studio Arts Craft and fine artists use a variety of materials and techniques to create art for sale and exhibition. Craft artists create handmade objects, such as pottery, glassware, textiles, and other objects that are designed to be functional. Fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators, create original works of art for their aesthetic value, rather than for a functional one. Craft and fine artists improve their skills through practice and repetition. Most fine artists earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in fine arts in order to improve their skills and job prospects. Education Most fine artists pursue postsecondary education to earn degrees that can improve their skills and job prospects. A formal educational credential is typically not needed for anyone to be a craft artist.
Art History, Criticism and Conservation Archivists appraise, process, catalog, and preserve permanent records and historically valuable documents. Curators oversee collections of artwork and historic items, and may conduct public service activities for an institution. Museum technicians and conservators prepare and restore objects and documents in museum collections and exhibits. Archivist, curator, and conservator positions typically require a master’s degree related to the position’s field. Museum technicians typically have a bachelor’s degree. Prior experience through an internship or by volunteering in archives and museums is helpful in getting a position as an archivist or a curator, museum technician, or conservator. Education Archivists. Archivists typically need a master’s degree in history, library science, archival science, political science, or public administration.
Design and Visual Communications Industrial designers develop the concepts for manufactured products, such as cars, home appliances, and toys. They combine art, business, and engineering to make products that people use every day. Industrial designers consider the function, aesthetics, production costs, and usability of products when developing new product concepts. A bachelor’s degree is usually required for entry-level industrial design jobs. It is also important for industrial designers to have an electronic portfolio with examples of their design projects. Education A bachelor’s degree in industrial design, architecture, or engineering is usually required for entry-level industrial design jobs. Most industrial design programs include courses in drawing, computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), and three-dimensional modeling, as well as courses in business, industrial materials and processes, and manufacturing methods. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits more than 360 postsecondary colleges, universities, and independent institutes with programs in art and design.

Job Outlook for other majors in Visual and Performing Arts

Job Title Number of jobs Median Salary Job outlook
Music 1018700 $60320 As fast as average
Music Performance 74800 $49630 As fast as average
Jazz/Jazz Studies 172400 $null As fast as average
Art/Art Studies 1018700 $60320 As fast as average
Fine/Studio Arts 53400 $48960 As fast as average
Art History, Criticism and Conservation 31000 $48400 Faster than average
Design and Visual Communications 39700 $66590 Slower than average