Graduates with a degree in drama will find that, as advertised, all the world is a stage and there are many careers connected to the stage that are available to them. Most graduates with a degree in drama will have specialized in their undergraduate years which will make their search for a career simpler to organize. But most graduates with a degree in drama will, during four years of study, have also dabbled in many different areas of theater arts beyond their major which may open up even more career options for consideration. While careers filled by graduates with a degree in drama are very susceptible to the ebb and flow of the economy, even in the worst economic times , people still seek entertainment and consequently career positions still need to be filled.. Graduates with a degree in drama who are competitive in their field should find some of these career options available even when the economy is experiencing a down swing.
Acting Many graduates with a degree in drama have concentrated their student efforts in developing their ability in acting. First acting jobs for graduates with a degree in drama are not likely to be on Broadway. But driven and persevering actors and actresses can find work in their field at a more modest level. Live theater is popular throughout the nation and there are many city theater companies, repertory groups or community theater organizations that ,while not paying huge salaries , pay enough to allow actors to stay busy in their field and survive until bigger and better prospects materialize. Graduates with a degree in drama can also find stepping stone jobs in radio doing voice overs, in television as bit players or even in commercials that can help to keep their careers afloat until more lucrative opportunities come along. Some graduates with a degree in drama look for opportunities to get their acting career energized by working in marginal entertainment venues such as nightclubs, casinos, theme parks or cruise ships. At the beginning of an acting career any opportunity to get yourself in front of an audience is a good opportunity.
The prime difficulty for graduates with a degree in drama who want to make a career in acting is that acting is a very competitive field and parts are filled in many somewhat arbitrary ways. In some cases a play requires a character role be filled by a certain physical type. In other cases certain additional abilities like a strong singing or dancing talent may be necessary. In many instances experience is a key factor. Graduates with a degree in drama bring to every audition their solid skills achieved through four years of training and college theater experiences and have a fair opportunity to nail down a part and the beginning of career.
Writing Not every graduate with a degree in drama wants to act. In fact a good percentage of graduates with a degree in drama want to create the plays, the movies, the skits, the television shows, not star in them. Trying to find work as a playwright or screen writer can be discouraging. There seems to be little in the way of a road map to go by for writers looking to land that first job. In many instances graduates with a degree in drama who want to write find themselves involved in other aspects of dramatic presentation or part time employment while they hone their writing skills and get a portfolio of work together.
When we see all the television shows, movies and plays that are produced each year we know that someone is making money creating those shows. There are jobs for talented writers but the wait is sometimes long and the ascent precarious. Most writers need to find agents to forward their work and then hope that those agents can help to launch them and their writing into a successful career connection. Some writers enter the writing profession through a successful entry in writing competitions . As with acting, any way that puts your writing in front of potential producers or directors is a good one. In the meantime, many writers keep working on their dramatic writing while supporting themselves by writing less dramatic and more profitable commercial copy. For graduates with a degree in drama patience is a key element. Would be writers have to be prepared to dedicate time writing, mailing out scripts and enduring rejections and to patiently pursue every opportunity for success.
Production There are graduates with a degree in drama whose interest and training have never centered on either writing or acting in plays, films or television shows. These graduates with a degree in drama have studied and trained in the more technical aspects of production. They are in effect what makes a dramatic production possible. Anywhere where live theater is being performed, movies are being filmed or television shows are being taped, there are careers for graduates with a degree in drama who have centered their undergraduate careers on learning the essentials of directing , lighting, make up, or stage management.Obviously the larger and the more successful the dramatic project or theater company, the larger and more dependable the compensation and benefits to production crews .
The general processes for career advancement in modern theater is not unlike that in many other professions. Newcomers have to earn their way to the better and more lucrative positions. Many graduates with a degree in drama begin at least in their undergraduate days seeking part time and summer stock employment to gain experience, build their resumes and to develop a network of professional relationships which may be helpful down the road. Each successive and successful internship or entry level position lifts the graduate with a degree in drama to a slightly higher rung on the ladder to success.
Most graduates with a degree in drama find that there is no lack of positions for directors, lighting directors or stage managers in college level community theater and even small repertory companies. Rising above this semi professional , often not for profit level demands experience, real talent and often simple good luck. There is no direct line to success on or off Broadway but there is the constant example and inspiration provided by those who have made it. Graduates with a degree ind drama can always benefit by listening to the experiences of fellow graduates with a degree in drama who have had a degree of success in show business.
The Drama Business Not every graduate with a degree in drama will go on to have a direct connection with writing, acting or producing for the theater. Many will opt for careers where there is more predictability , less travel and more regular pay and benefits. For some there will be careers in theater management, where knowledge of theater is combined with building management training and experience to maintain a successful theater building or performance center where a variety of shows are aired each season.
For some, their love of and training in theater may translate to a career in teaching drama at the secondary school level or in drama workshops. Still other graduates with a degree in drama will take their knowledge of and experience in drama and personal writing skills and land a career position as a d drama , television or movie critic. Many magazines, newspapers, on line websites, radio and televisions stations offer columns, sections, even full programs that review current dramatic performances nationwide. Certainly they want to hire people who are solid writers, but for their audiences they also want entertainment columnists who have educational and personal drama experience and credentials, people who are graduates with a degree in drama , for example.
It’s fair to say that careers that are connected to the drama business but are not tied to the success or failure of any particular production are unlikely to yield six figure incomes, but they are very likely to provide reliable incomes and associated benefits. These careers are also likely to be somewhat less competitive than jobs in acting or writing and more secure. The big money, the big fame follows the big risks, the long waits, the professional gamble and that indiscernible thing called talent.
Graduates with a degree in drama have had four undergraduate years to consider both the glamor and the challenges of a career in the theater , movies or television. At some point each graduate with a degree in drama must make a determination about which career path to pursue. This choice needs to be based on a candid evaluation of personal ability and dreams stacked up against reality and only the individual can chart his or her own course from there.