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How to Start a Career in the Theater

Careers in theater range from
actor or director to stagehand,
set builder or costume designer.

For those who are drawn to the smell of greasepaint, or who get excited just thinking about the bright lights of a theater stage, a job in the theater could be the perfect way to turn a burning passion into a lifelong career.

In the theater, there is is something for everyone. Acting is certainly one option, but others incude directing, producing, writing, and music direction, not to mention make up, stage design, sound and lighting.

Whatever the specific trade, people who work in the theater all share common skills and traits — such as creative thinker, team player, and hard worker -— that fit in perfectly within the highly collaborative nature of theater work.

Getting started in the theater

Getting experience in the theater usually starts in nonpaying church groups and local theater productions. Anyone still in school can often find some sort of theater happening there, as well.

These smaller venues are a perfect way to get basic experience. However, it can be difficult to find theater jobs that actually pay at this level, and very difficult to make a living at it.

To really have a lucrative career in the theater, job seekers must typically situate themselves in such meccas as New York, London, Chicago, or LA that that have a thriving theater scene where work can be found and a career further developed.

Consider formal training

Meanwhile, formal theater training from recognized colleges and universities is another highly recommended option, since casting directors or hiring managers are known to actively seek out those who spell out their formal schooling and experience on their resumes.

While a college degree isn't necessary in all cases for a professional career, there are certainly few in the industry who would openly discourage it. On the flip side, paying off years of student loans on the outside chance you may "make it" in a very competitive field is a risky gamble. Rather than spending a life's fortune on an expensive theater degree, say some experts, opt for individual theater classes that interest you the most when you're first starting out.

Theater jobs outlook

The job outlook for this industry is about average, with growth expected to match the national average. As ever, earnings for someone working in the theater will vary depending on the specific job and the type of venue. In the US nationwide, typical salaries for theater actor only average between $11 and $12 an hour.

Actors Equity, the assocation that sets the standard for what Broadway actors make, currently sets the mininum wage at $1,605 a week.

also see in Theater -> Dancing Jobs & Auditions | Theater Publications


More about theater careers around the Web:


A Career Guide for Theatre Majors - Sweeping guide to entering the profession from the University of Texas, with overviews of dozens of available positions including job descriptions, average wages, and pages of related resources. In PDF format (Adobe Format required).

Royal Shakespeare Theatre - Career Guidance - The UK's top venue explains in detail what types of jobs are available, what they entail, including experience and education requirments.


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