A drama degree can set you up for a career in the performing arts but you'll need to be adaptable, enterprising and persistent to succeed in this competitive environment
Jobs directly related to your degree include:
- Broadcast presenter
- Community arts worker
- Runner, broadcasting/film/video
- Theatre director
- Theatre stage manager
Jobs where your degree would be useful include:
- Arts administrator
- Further education teacher
- Media researcher
- Music producer
- Secondary school teacher
- Special effects technician
- Talent agent
- Television floor manager
- Theatre manager
Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.
Joining drama societies at university or local amateur dramatics clubs will help hone your craft and gain exposure to industry professionals. You can also sign up to an agency for work as an extra and for small roles or adverts.
For television or theatre roles, attend theatre and studio open days, industry insight sessions and tours where possible - these could be organised by your university or by the organisation themselves. Take or send your CV to relevant organisations asking for any experience they can offer - don't be picky about the opportunity, as even in basic roles you'll learn a lot, make contacts and enhance your CV.
Subscribe to industry newsletters and publications to keep up with developments and opportunities. Ensure you take advantage of your university's existing internships and partnerships, e.g. with local studios and venues.
You should be aware that drama roles are often competitive and work experience is rarely paid.
Find out more about work experience and internships.
Organisations that often employ drama graduates include:
- educational institutions
- arts organisations
- media companies
- hospitality and leisure organisations.
To work in a drama-based role you'll need to be resilient and proactive, as roles are competitive and rarely permanent.
Many drama graduates form portfolio careers by combining different jobs - often part-time roles and freelance work, to make up roughly the equivalent of full-time work. To enjoy and succeed at portfolio working, or any self-employment, you will need strong organisation and networking skills.
Drama graduates also frequently work in roles not associated with their degree, such as recruitment, marketing and customer services.
Skills for your CV
You'll gain specialist skills in performance, interpreting texts and script writing. You may also acquire technical theatre and directing skills (these differ between each drama programme).
Drama degrees also provide you with broad skills that are in demand across all industries, including:
- teamwork, to create group performances
- working well under pressure and meeting deadlines, from learning lines and producing live work
- creative/critical thinking skills, to interpret scripts and bring them to life
- presentation and verbal communication, through frequent performing
- written communication skills, through producing academic work and possibly scripts
- quick thinking and improvisation skills, to ensure live performances and assessments run smoothly
- self-motivation, to rehearse and continuously develop performance
- negotiation and conflict management skills, to create a shared concept within groups.
Further study is a popular option for drama graduates. It can build on your degree and help you refine your performance-based skills, while allowing you to continue making contacts.
Further study can also be used to focus on specific areas of interest such as technical theatre or directing.
Certain professional roles, like teaching or drama therapy, are likely to require additional qualifications at postgraduate level so research these if you are considering taking a different route.
Studying something unrelated to drama is also an option and can diversify your skillset.
What do drama graduates do?
Although a large proportion of drama graduates are in employment 15 months after graduation, many are employed in jobs unrelated to their degree subject. However, 7% of of drama graduates are employed as actors, entertainers and presenters. A further 5% are arts officers, producers and directors.
|Working and studying||9.1|
|Type of work||Percentage|
|Retail, catering and bar staff||22.9|
|Arts, design and media||17.9|
|Secretarial and numerical clerks||10|
|Childcare, health and education||9.7|
Find out what other drama graduates are doing 15 months after finishing their degrees in What do graduates do?
Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.