Be a Drama Teacher: Career Information and Requirements

Learn how to become a drama teacher. Research the job description and the education and licensing requirements and find out how to start a career as a drama teacher.

Should I Become a Drama Teacher?

Drama teachers assist students in exploring their creativity and building interpersonal skills via classroom activities and theater productions. They utilize instructional methods to create lesson plans, exercises and other activities to help students master costume and set design, acting and directing. Drama teachers are employed in a wide range of educational settings from elementary, middle and high schools to colleges and universities.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree minimum; Master's degree may be required
Degree Field Theater arts, education
Certification Teacher certification required
Experience Student teaching internship required
Key Skills Patience, instructional skills, communication skills
Salary (2014)$56,310 (Median for secondary school teachers)
$64,300 (median for college art, drama and music teachers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, University of North Carolina-Asheville

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

The minimum education requirement for a career as a drama teacher is the completion of a 4-year degree program at a college or university. Bachelor's degrees in theater arts education or drama education are typical for drama teachers in secondary schools. Education programs center on areas such as child and adolescent development, teaching diverse learners and lesson preparation. Teacher education programs can be completed concurrently with the bachelor's degree program or independently after earning a bachelor's degree. While attending college, a prospective drama teacher must fulfill an internship or supervised field experience at a local school.

Success Tip:

Get certification in an additional supplementary area. Some theater or drama education programs suggest future drama teachers should become licensed in another subject area as well as drama. If one decides to pursue dual certification in a related discipline, the versatility of being able to teach another class could be helpful when seeking employment.

Step 2: Get a Teaching Certificate

All teaching positions in public school systems, including drama, require applicants to have state certification. Each state's State Board of Education usually administers licensing. Licensing requirements vary but typically include the completion of a teacher preparation program, internship and an exam. Alternative licenses are also available for individuals with a bachelor's degree in a field other than education.

Other than a bachelor's degree and student teaching field experience, the guidelines for certification differ by state. Every state usually assesses educators using an examination process to confirm they're eligible, but the exams utilized may differ. Requirements to stay licensed may also vary, but can include continuing education classes. Some states require teachers to earn an additional post-baccalaureate degree.

Step 3: Complete a Master's Degree

Certain public schools require teaching applicants to possess a master's degree. Master's degree programs concentrate on teaching literature, literary theory, linguistics, rhetoric and composition, and many require the completion of a master's thesis or research project. Many master's programs are designed for those who have received a bachelor's degree in theater arts or drama, but are not certified, or for educators certified in different subjects who would like a drama or theater arts certification. Sometimes theater arts or drama teachers with bachelor's degrees enroll in a master's degree program to further their careers even when their state does not expect education beyond a bachelor's degree.

Step 4: New Positions for Career Advancement

Drama teachers working in public schools may choose to advance their career by going into a leadership or supervisory position within their district. Teachers could go on to drama programs in colleges and universities.

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