Theater Critic: Job Description, Duties and Career Outlook

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a theater critic. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and salary expectations to find out if this is the career for you.

Theatre critics often work as freelancers for newspapers, magazines, broadcast stations or websites. They report on and critique theatre and other live performances, and they must have knowledge of theatre and strong writing skills. The job outlook for writers and authors is predicted to be slower than average in the upcoming decade.

Essential Information

Theater critics analyze and report on plays and other performance art for newspapers, magazines, television or websites. No specific degree or training is required, but critics should be familiar with current trends in theater and have strong writing skills. Some critics are employed by a particular publication or broadcast station, while others are freelancers who work on contract.

Required Education No requirements, but a degree in journalism, theater or a related area is recommended
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 2% (writers and authors)*
Median Annual Salary (2015) $60,250 (writers and authors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Job Description

A theater critic might contribute written work to print media, such as newspapers, magazines or books. He or she could also write for online sources or share theater criticism through radio or television. Some theater critics work primarily as freelance writers who sell their work to various forms of media, while others work as columnists or regular contributors to a particular magazine or newspaper.

While a particular degree is not required to become a theater critic, many critics have an educational background in theater, journalism, communications or English. Bachelor's degree programs in dramaturgy and criticism are available, and they prepare students to work as critics in theater publishing or to teach theater criticism.

Theater programs cover topics such as dramatic theory, script analysis and interpretation of literature and plays. Programs are generally designed to hone students' critical thinking, analysis and writing skills. Theater students might further focus on theatrical criticism through master's degree studies.


A theater critic analyzes given works of drama. Most often, this analysis is in written form and appears in print or digital media. In addition to providing literary interpretation, the writings of a theater critic help raise general awareness about theater among readers.

As a writer, a theater critic should be able to meet deadlines and juggle multiple writing projects at once. Whether freelance or salaried, a writing career requires self-motivation and perseverance.

Career Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that projected employment growth for writers and authors for 2014-2024 was only 2%, which is slower than average ( Continued competition for work within the publishing industry is expected as print media declines in favor of online publishing. Prospective writers should be familiar with online media and the use of digital publishing tools.

In May 2015, the middle 50% of writers and authors made between $42,380 and $84,030 per year. Industries with the highest levels of employment for writers included advertising and publishing.

Theatre critics have no educational requirements, though a degree in a related field is preferred. They require a strong writing skills and knowledge of journalistic style, as well as the field of theatre. Writers and authors have a median annual salary of about $60,000.

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