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Performing Arts Career Info

Students who are interested in pursuing a career in the performing arts may choose from a variety of disciplines, including those associated with film, music, and theater. Read on to learn about the educational requirements, job outlook, and potential salaries for performing artists.

Career Definition of Performing Artists

There are many careers that fall under the category of the performing arts. These include composing and playing music, choreography, dancing, acting, directing and producing, among other forms of expression and entertainment. While activities vary by career, most of the performing arts involve a specific talent or skill that is used to entertain a live or remote audience, which can include filmed and televised shows or musical recordings.

Required Education Degrees in music, acting, and dancing are recommended
Job Skills Creativity, persistence, interpersonal skills, memorization, communication, and management
Median Hourly Wage (2017)* $17.49 for actors, $14.25 for dancers, $26.96 for musicians and singers, $23.28 for choreographers, and $34.43 for producers and directors
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 12% for actors, 5% for dancers, 6% for musicians and singers, 3% for choreographers, and 12% for producers and directors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Educational requirements for performing artists differ according to the discipline. For example, while formal training is not required to pursue a career in acting or music, classes or a degree in theater arts or musicology can help aspiring thespians or classical composers and singers advance their skills. Producers and directors will most likely need a bachelor's degree in cinema studies or film, as well as experience in the field. Most dancers, such as those specializing in ballet, begin training in elementary school; choreographers usually enter the field as dancers.

Skills Required

While each discipline is associated with a specific skill set, all performing artists are expected to be creative and persistent and excel in developing interpersonal relationships. Physical stamina and teamwork are key for actors and dancers; those pursuing careers in the dramatic arts should have good memorization, reading, and writing skills. In addition to discipline and musical talent, musicians and singers will need to know how to promote themselves. Students who are interested in careers as producers and directors should develop skills in communication and management.

Career and Salary Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for most performing artists, including those working in dance, film, music, and theater, are expected to increase by 3%-12% nationwide between 2016 and 2026, with the average being 7% for all occupations for comparison. Producers and directors would also see an increase of 12% during the same period.

In May 2017, actors and dancers earned median hourly wages of $17.49 and $14.25, respectively, while musicians and singers received a median hourly wage of $26.96. In the same month, choreographers earned median hourly pay of $23.28; producers and directors were paid a median hourly wage of $34.43 (www.bls.gov).

Alternate Career Options

You can also look into these careers in the performance industry:

Announcers

Announcers, including those employed as disc jockeys or by radio and television stations, introduce music and songs, interview guests, or relay news and sports reports. Masters of ceremonies or disc jockeys may also provide services at clubs, events, parties, and weddings. While a high school diploma and on-the-job training may qualify candidates for positions as public address announcers, those interested in working for radio or television stations will most likely need a bachelor's degree in broadcasting, communication studies, or journalism.

As reported by the BLS, as of May 2017, public address announcers were paid a median yearly salary of $28,440; radio and television announcers earned a median of $32,450 per year as of same month. Across the country, a decline of 9% is projected for announcers' jobs in general from 2016-2026.

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Film and video editors work in partnership with producers and directors to organize images and raw footage for final productions. Camera operators shoot raw footage for advertising, film, television, and video. A bachelor's degree in broadcasting or film is the usual requirement for pursuing a position as a camera operator or film editor, which will most likely include training in the use of computer-imaging software.

According to the BLS, employment opportunities for camera operators and editors nationwide are expected to increase by 13% from 2016 to 2026. As of May 2017, camera operators and film editors earned median annual wages of $53,550 and $61,180, respectively.


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