Theater Management: Education and Career Roadmap

Find out what it takes to get into theater management. Learn about the educational requirements, as well as the practical knowledge needed to begin a career as a theater manager.

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  • 0:01 Theater Managers
  • 0:26 Career Information
  • 0:55 Join a HS Theater Group
  • 1:17 Earn a Bachelor's Degree
  • 1:41 Acquire Professional…
  • 2:15 Earn a Master's Degree…

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Theater Managers

As a theater manager, you'll coordinate a theater's finances, administration, event planning, and marketing aspects. You'll also hire and train theater staff. The level of your involvement will largely depend on a theater's size. A job as a theater manager may require long night and weekend hours, which are some of the busiest times for this profession.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's or master's degree preferred
Degree Field Theater arts management
Key Skills A good understanding of acting and playwriting; marketing and fundraising skills
Salary $80,210 (2015 average for general and operations managers for theater companies and dinner theaters)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

A bachelor's or master's degree is in theater arts management is usually required to obtain a job as a theater manager. Theater managers should also have an understanding of acting and playwriting, as well as marketing and fundraising.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May 2015 general and operations managers for theater companies and dinner theaters earned an average annual salary of $80,210.

Step 1: Join a HS Theater Group

If you're interested in a career in theater management, you can start gaining experience in high school. Participation in high school theater productions is also a good way to prepare for undergraduate theater programs in college. Admissions requirements for many bachelor's programs in theater management include prior experience in musicals or stage productions.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

At least 70 colleges across the United States offer undergraduate programs in theater arts management. These programs typically include a combination of theater arts and business courses. Once enrolled, you may learn how to design a theater space, produce a play, fundraise, and study finance. You may also have the chance to gain hands-on experience through school-approved internships.

Step 3: Acquire Professional Experience

After earning a bachelor's degree in theater management, you can start looking for entry- or mid-level management positions in the field. For example, as a new graduate, you may find secretarial or clerical work with a theater organization. Professional experience in writing brochures, raising funds, training volunteers and marketing can help aspiring managers advance in their careers and provide important networking opportunities. In addition, master's degree programs often prefer applicants who have real-world theater experience.

Step 4: Earn a Master's Degree and Advance Your Career

Earning an Master of Fine Arts in Theater Management can lead to an increase in job opportunities. Some schools even offer joint programs that lead to both an MFA and a Master of Business Administration (MBA). In an MFA in Theater Management program, you may study theater history, while learning how to organize a theatrical production, hiring and unions, fundraising techniques and finance. Professional seminars and workshops may also be part of the curriculum. You may also have to write a thesis paper or complete a research project.

After earning a master's degree, graduates can look for work opportunities by networking with faculty members and joining professional theater groups. However, it's important to note that completion of a master's program doesn't guarantee employment as a theater manager. In some cases, additional experience gained through internships or entry-level work may be required.

Just to recap, you'll need a bachelor's or master's degree in theater arts management to qualify for a job as a theater manager, after which you may earn an average salary of $80,210 a year.

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