If you love performing in front of others and have a knack for public speaking, you may want to look into performing arts schools as a way to perfect your craft. Although careers in this field vary, they can include actors and actresses, professional dancers, comics and comedians, and others who perform in front of others in order to entertain or inspire. Specific training offered by performing arts schools can help you prepare for any of these careers, both by helping you hone your skills and by providing you with credentials that could help you land a paying gig. The opportunities are out there for students who are willing to put in the time and effort to learn the basics and cultivate a career.
Performing arts specializations
A wide range of careers fall under the umbrella of performing arts, but the common theme is that all of these workers are entertainers and performers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some of the specializations included in the realm of performing arts are:
- Actors or actresses perform in theatrical products for film or television, or in front of a live audience.
- Dancers perform dance numbers to music. This could be as part of a theater production, concert, music video or film. Some dancers also perform solo.
- Choreographers create and implement dance routines that are both entertaining and artistic.
- Comedians write and/or perform sketch comedy, stand-up comedy, or choreographed comedy routines for film, television or live audiences.
Performing arts certifications and degrees
According to the BLS, many actors and actresses learn the basics of their profession during formal education. Typically, that means earning a bachelor's degree in theatre arts. However, the BLS is quick to point out that postsecondary education is not necessarily a requirement for actors or actresses. The main qualities that help these workers become successful are: persistence, creativity and an "it factor."
The same can be said about dancers, choreographers and comedians. Although many earn degrees in theatre arts, dance, or another field, postsecondary education is not necessarily a requirement. Most dancers master their art by taking dance courses and attending dance summer camps throughout childhood. Although academic subjects aren't always necessary, taking classes in modern, jazz, ballet, and hip-hop dance styles can help anyone who wants to work as a professional dancer.
Performing arts salary and career outlook
Because there are always going to be more performers than gigs, demand in the field of performing arts is expected to be modest. Specifically, the BLS projects that employment for actors and actresses will increase only 4 percent nationally from 2012 to 2022. Meanwhile, job openings for dancers and choreographers are expected to increase 13 percent during the same time frame.
Some states expect to see more demand for actors and actresses during the next decade than others. The following states predict higher growth from 2012 to 2022:
- Arizona: 50.3%
- Utah: 41.1%
- Kentucky: 27.7%
- District of Columbia: 21.8%
- Oregon: 20.6%
- Montana: 19.8%
- Hawaii: 18.2%
- Indiana: 17.6%
- Washington: 16.5%
The following states predict higher than average growth for dancers from 2012 to 2022:
- Utah: 33.1%
- Iowa: 24.1%
- Tennessee: 19.6%
- Texas: 17.3%
- Arizona: 17.1%
- Colorado: 17.6%
- Louisiana: 16.2%
- Florida: 15.6%
Reliable data on incomes of those in the performing arts isn't always available because of the highly variable environment they work in. Simply put, many performing artists make a lot more than others, and the issue of pay becomes complicated when you consider that many only work part-time or contract jobs, and rarely work year-round. However, according to the BLS, entertainers and performers earned an annual mean wage of $58,750 nationally in 2013. Meanwhile, actors, producers, and directors earned an annual mean wage of $89,020 nationally that same year. Dancers and choreographers also did well as a sub-group. According to the BLS, they earned an annual mean wage of $44,540 nationally in 2013.
Beginning a career in the performing arts will definitely take a certain amount of blood, sweat, and tears, but postsecondary education in this field could also help you achieve your goals. Fortunately, performing arts schools can put you on the right track toward joining this rewarding profession.
Actors, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-sports/actors.htm#tab-1
Dancers and Choreographers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-sports/dancers-and-choreographers.htm#tab-1
Projections Central, Long-Term Occupational Projections, http://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
May 2013 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm#27-0000