Career Options for Theatre Arts Majors
Parkside prepares you for careers in the theater and beyond!
A Theatre Arts degree from UW-Parkside can help prepare you for many career opportunities in professional live theater production and/or performance as well as other related careers in the diverse artistic and entertainment industries. The theatre program at Parkside includes a comprehensive study in all aspects of theater, opportunities for professional BFA-level concentrations, practical experience professional production, extensive internship opportunities, and a solid background in the liberal arts. Our primary goal is to help you achieve your highest personal potentials – academically, artistically, personally, and socially.
Parkside offers a traditional bachelor of arts degree in theatre arts as well as professional BFA-level concentrations in the areas of acting, musical theatre, direction and management, design and technology, theatre education, and arts administration. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality training and experience for our students who dream of a professional career in the theatre. We believe it’s our duty and responsibility to provide you with the theatrical knowledge, skills, collaborative spirit, and professional connections needed for success in your chosen field of theatre after graduation.
Theatre Arts is also a great major for those who do not necessarily dream of a career in the theatre. In many ways theatre is the ultimate liberal arts major – and can help to prepare you for an almost endless range of careers following graduation. Most professional occupations today require a college educated individual who can write and speak well, solve problems, learn new information quickly, utilize technology, and work well with others on a team to solve creative challenges. A major in theatre arts prepares students well for an amazing variety of collaborative, creative, people-oriented careers.
In recent years, the majority of Parkside Theatre majors have chosen careers in theatre after graduation. Approximately 40% of our recent graduates have entered theatre graduate programs in order to earn their Master of Fine Arts degrees (MFA) or Doctorates (Ph.D.) in Theatre. Parkside theatre graduates have been very successful in getting accepted to the finest graduate programs in the nation – often with generous scholarships and stipends. Approximately 30% of our recent graduates have done professional theatre internships and apprenticeships in their senior year or immediately after graduation. Professional theater apprenticeships often include a stipend and housing and are excellent transitional training resources. The remainder of our graduates directly enter the professional work world, either at theatres or some other related field where they can apply their skills and talents. We currently have a graduate placement rate of over 92%.
Our extensive theatre production seasons will offer you an almost unlimited number of opportunities to practice, apply, and develop the skills, talents, and knowledge that you learn about in the classroom. Because our program is “quality capped” at 65 total theatre majors (7:1 student/staff ratio) you will be guaranteed the opportunity to become as active and involved in the program. You will also learn practical production skills through possible employment opportunities in the Theatre Arts Department, including work in the costume and scene shops, work on creating sets and properties for the Fireside Professional Theatre, or working on national tours and theatre events that are a part of the ArtsAlive Series.
The career and life skills that you’ll discover, explore, and develop as a Theatre Arts major are many. The vast majority of our graduates are:
Positive, Open Minded, Patient, Collaborative, Team-Oriented
Due to the collaborative, task-oriented nature of theatre you will be able to work more effectively and efficiently individually or with a group. You will learn to build and maintain relationships with agents, employers, and peers in your field and to market your many skills and talents. Developing your interpersonal skills and networking with others in the industry will help you succeed in whatever career field you choose. Theatre gives you countless opportunities to engage your positive creative energy and spirit, become more open minded about the diverse world around you, and to better understand the problem-solving process that is required in completing a finished product in a timely manner.
Creative, Innovative, and Original
The study of theatre will help you better understand and express your own creativity and to appreciate the creativity of others. You will be challenged to be knowledgeable about different areas of theatre, art, dance, music, the humanities, and the natural and social sciences. As you explore your own perspectives within these diverse areas of study, you will have the opportunity to open yourself up to the new and innovative opportunities and ideas that exist outside your own safe world. You will also be encouraged to take courses in technology, public relations, advertising, business, and education to help market your skills or prepare for different kinds of careers within the industry. Explore what sets you apart from others and use it to your advantage.
Energetic, Enthusiastic, and Flexible
The study of theatre will help you adapt to changing and challenging situations, take risks, and work hard as an active member of a group or community. This active, collaborative process will bring out a natural energy and enthusiasm in you and the group as you commit to solving creative challenges. You will discover that collaboration, flexibility, and compromise are essential aspects of all group projects and endeavors. These life skills and attitudes are key to successful careers in the theatre – and in life in general.
Confident, Clear, and Concise in Communication
A major in theatre arts will help you sharpen and develop your skills in reading, writing, public speaking, and artistic expression – helping you to communicate more effectively in all situations. Excellent communication skills are essential for presenting ideas to diverse audiences for different purposes and settings – and are perhaps the most important benefits of a college education that prepares you for fulfilling lives and careers. As a theatre arts major you will get many opportunities to become more confident, clear, concise, and articulate in explaining your creative ideas, insights, and personal expressions.
Versatile, Adaptable, and Resourceful
As a theatre arts major at UW-Parkside you will have the opportunity to learn more about every aspect of theatre – and all of the arts, humanities, and sciences -- making you more versatile and adaptable individual and artist. We will also introduce you to the latest in theatre scholarship and technology, helping you to discover and utilize an entire world of resources and opportunities to continue learning. Our goal is to inspire you to become a life-long learner and a versatile, adaptable problem solver who knows how to access the resources needed to make informed decisions.
- Actor: Brings life to the written word and action of the text either on stage or on film
- Artistic Director: Selects plays for the theatre season, hires artistic staff, and sometimes participates in fund raising
- Box Office Manager: Oversees reservations and sales of tickets for current and future productions
- Business Manager: Controls the money, deals with budget development and allocation, sets ups accounts with vendors
- Choreographer: Creates and teaches the dance and/or stylized movements for the production
- Costume Designer: Designs all costumes for the production
- Costume Shop Supervisor or technician: Deals with all aspects of costume creation, including design assistance, cutting, draping, patterning, stitching, and shop management and maintenance
- Drama Coach: Works individually with an actor either to develop generic acting skills or to prepare for a specific role
- Dramaturge: Conducts research and text analysis for a production
- Director: Interprets the script and determines the specific vision of a production. Oversees the rehearsals and elements of design to insure adherence to that vision
- Fight Director: Specializes in choreographing and carefully teaching safe fight sequences in productions
- House Manager: Oversees ushers and ticket takers and all front-of-house operations
- Lighting Designer: Designs & draws up the lighting for the production / Establishes light looks, levels and cues
- Make-up Artist: Designs, creates and oversees all the makeup for the production
- Master Carpenter: Oversees other carpenters working on the production. Determines all construction plans and materials
- Master Electrician: Ensures that lighting equipment is maintained, hung, focused and run according to written & verbal instructions of the designer
- Musical Director: Oversees all rehearsals and may conduct the musicians and rehearse the actors who have singing parts
- Playwright: Creates the script
- Producer: Secures financial backing and venue for the performance, and hires the production staffing
- Production Manager: Coordinates production schedules and administrative / logistic details of the multi-show theatrical season
- Pyrotechnician: Designs, sets up and executes the fireworks display or other pyro effects
- Recording Engineer: Design the recording of the music and/or sound effects with levels, effects or other processing
- Rigger: Hangs objects in the fly space above the stage. This may be sound equipment, lights, scenery, or special effects
- Scenic Designer: Designs the scenery and props. Supplies all drawings, sketches, models and water paintings of the set concept
- Scenic Painter: Facilitates the scenic designer's ideas and brings them to life on the backdrops or actual set pieces
- Sound Designer: Creates the overall design of the sound system from choice of microphones to placement of speakers, types of live or recorded effects and/or music that may be needed for the production.
- Special Effects Designer: Creates the effects used in a production from trap doors to puppetry to break away furniture and more
- Stage Crew: Run the back stage area; do the scene shifts of sets and props, etc.
- Stage Manager: Oversees all performance-related aspects of a production from pre-audition planning and research through rehearsal and performance to closing. Acts as liaison between director, performers, designers, technicians and administration
- Technical Director: Oversees the scene shop, construction of scenery, movement and installation of scenery, and ordering of materials. They are considered a "jack-of-all-trades"
- Technician: Operates and/or maintains materials in the theatre or tour world
- Theatre Consultant: A person whose knowledge is used to give suggestion and ideas in how to setup, specify or oversee installation of equipment in theatres
- Theatre Critic: A person who writes reviews of a show for newspapers, magazines or other media
- Theatre Teacher/Educator: Teaches classes in the field of theatre at either the K-12 or college level
- Vocal Coach: A person who helps actors with vocal issues such as projection, articulation, breath control or dialect in relation to a specific character
- Media Planner
- Computer Design Specialist
- Salesperson, or Personality
- Customer Service Manager
- Human Relations Specialist
- Conflict Mediator
- Public Relations Specialist
- Admissions Director
- Recruitment Officer
- Advertising/Marketing Specialist
- Movie Theater Manager
- Amusement Park Entertainer
- Equipment Operator Facilities Manager
- Theatre News Correspondent
- Trial Lawyer or Paralegal
- Art Director or Arts Administrator
- Health Educator
- Booking Manager
- Entertainment Producer
- Broadcast Journalist
- Personal or Program Assistant
- Business Manager
- Labor Relations Specialist
- Public Affairs Officer
- Public Relations Specialist
- Communication Technology Specialist
- Community Affairs Officer
- Radio/TV Announcer
- Copy Writer
- Sales Representative
- Exhibit/Display Designer
- Student Affairs
- Theater Manager
- Ticket Sales Coordinator
- Special Events Coordinator
- Tour Guide
- Talent Manager
- Tourism Program Director
- Talent Scout
- Training & Development Specialist
- Interior or Fashion Designer
- plus countless other careers dealing with human relations, communication, collaborative teamwork, and creative problem-solving.
FIND OUT MORE theatre career opportunities by visiting these great theatre websites:
ArtSEARCH -The National Employment Bulletin for the Arts (www.tcg.org/artsearch): a complete listing of all theatre and performing arts jobs and internship opportunities available in the United States . UW-Parkside students have special access to paid listings.
Playbill on Line (www.playbill.com): a complete listing of major theatre news and events across the nation, including production information, Theatre Central Links, and discounted tickets to most major productions.
Theatre Jobs (www.theatrejobs.com): a very complete site theatre link that connects job seekers with employers and provides helpful resources on auditions, resumes, and career development.
Backstage.com (www.backstage.com): features performance news, audition announcements, technical opportunities, and career support services for both New York and Los Angeles.
Backstagejobs.com (www.backstagejobs.com): free job listings for all behind-the-scenes jobs in live entertainment.
McCoy's Guide to Theatre and Performance Studies (www.stetson.edu/departments/csata/thr_guid.html): an extensive guide to internet resources and links in theatre and performance studies. This site contains almost every link to theatre-related materials and careers opportunities.
U.S. Department of Labor Statistics: Outlook for Actors, Directors, and Producers (https://data.bls.gov/projections/nationalMatrix?queryParams=711110&ioType=i): The US government's official outlook on the state of theatre employment and salaries.
Artslynx (www.artslynx.org): detailed listing of international theatre resources and career opportunities with links to most famous theatres worldwide.
American Theatre Works (www.theatredirectories.com): a non-profit organization that publishes a variety of theatre directories.
The Performing Arts Career Guide (www.khake.com): provides detailed job description of every major career available in the performing arts, as well as helpful links to other theatre sites.
The American Theatre Wing's Guide to Careers in the Theatre (www.americantheatrewing.org): Created in partnership wit the Lincoln Center Library, this vast site consists of printed and video interviews with theatre professionals in over 30 different aspects of the art form. Many helpful theatre articles and related website links are provided.
Career Services at Rutgers (careerservices.rutgers.edu): This Rutgers University website features an extensive free career services guide, including information on theatre careers as well as general information on choosing a college majors.
American Alliance for Theatre & Education (www.aate.com): This site for America's largest organization of theatre educators has many helpful articles and links to training and career-related sites.
League of American Theatres and Producers (www.broadway.org): This is the official site of Broadway, Off Broadway, and major regional theatres in America , covering shows playing in over 140 cities.
Showbiz Jobs (www.showbizjobs.com): has both free and paid services for job hunting and resume posting.
The Theatre Development Fund (www.tdf.org): this site contains the latest Broadway theatre news and offers discount tickets through its famed TKTS booth.
American Association of Community Theatre (www.aact.org): the homepage of the association of community theatres across the nation, providing a forum for education and collaboration.
Musicaltheatreaudition.com (www.musicaltheatreaudition.com): an amazing musical theatre resource which includes audition information, advice, and extensive descriptions of musicals and audition pieces that work for a wide variety of actor/singer/dancers.
OpenOffice.org (www.openoffice.org): this FREE site includes various program resources for word processing, web page development, and simple conversions to PDF documents.
Fastweb.com (www.fastweb.com): a vast site that provides information and applications for scholarships available to students nationwide, including scholarships in theatre arts.
Internships.com (www.internships.com): a nationwide resource for connecting student interns with internship opportunities, including many in the performing arts.
Internweb.com (www.internweb.com): a centralized clearing house for internship opportunities.
Globalexperiences.com (www.globalexperiences.com): this comprehensive worldwide site provides students with a vast array of international student abroad and internship opportunities.
Links to Major Professional Theatre Unions and Organizations
Actors Equity Association (AEA) (www.actorsequity.org): the homepage of the major union representing professional actors and stage managers, this site contains a vast amount of information on rules and guidelines governing professional actors and stage managers.
Screen Actors Guild (SAG) (www.sag.org): the homepage for the major union of actors doing work for television and film.
The American Federation of Television & Radio Artists (AFTRA) (www.aftra.org): the homepage for the major union dealing with television and radio artists.
Society of American Fight Directors (SAFD) (www.safd.org): the homepage for fight directors and choreographers, including information about training, workshops, and certification.
Society of Stage Directors & Choreographers (www.ssdc.org): the homepage for the major union of stage directors and choreographers.
United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) (www.usitt.org): the homepage for artists focused on the development of theatre technology.
Chicago Theatre Website Resources
Perform Ink (www.performink.com): Chicago's official theatre newspaper that covers all aspects of the Chicago theatre scene, including shows in performance, auditions, and technical theatre job ads.
ActOne Studios (www.actone.com): Chicago's oldest and most extensive actor training studio offering multiple classes in all aspects of performance and auditioning.
The Actors Gymnasium (www.actorsgymnasium.com): This specialized actor training program focuses on circus performance, gymnastics, clowning, and stage combat.
The Artistic Home (www.theartistichome.org): This actor training academy focuses on Meisner training.
The Audition Studio (www.theauditionstudio.com): This 25 year old actor training academy offers audition classes for live theatre, television, film, radio, and commercial work.
Piven Theatre Workshop (www.piventheatre.org): This 30 year old Chicago training school and theatre focuses on theatre games, improvisation, and the production of new works. Programs also exist for director training.
TVI Actors Studio (www.tvistudios.com): This nationwide actor resource center also has offices in New York City and Los Angeles and provides training for young actors who are breaking into the business following graduation.
Victory Gardens Training Center (www.victorygardens.org): Winner of a Tony Award for Best American Regional Theatre, Victory Gardens focuses on the creation and production of new plays and offers an extensive array of courses in all aspects of acting.