What can you do with your performing arts degree?

Discover employment and further study opportunities that you could consider once you graduate with a performing arts degree and learn how you can stand out to graduate employers.

We encourage you to

  • undertake career planning and research
  • build your networks, meet employers and graduates
  • gain essential work experience during your course
  • attend career fairs and events
  • continually develop your skills and knowledge
  • get involved with relevant clubs and societies
  • visit the Careers Service for advice
  • reach out to theatre companies or organisations and begin to build relationships with these potential future employers.

Knowledge and skills

A performing arts degree gives you the perfect opportunity to develop and refine your performance and practical skills (e.g., acting, physical theatre, directing, scriptwriting, technical theatre and stage management), which are essential to work in the industry, but you will also develop a broad range of transferable skills that are desired by a wide range of employers and occupational areas. These include

  • team work: you are able to listen to other team members and take on board each other’s opinions and ideas.
  • time management: you are able to manage your time effectively and meet deadlines.
  • organisation: you are able to plan and schedule work, prioritising what needs to be done and by when.
  • creativity: you are able to come up with creative solutions to problems and take an innovative approach.
  • attention to detail: you are able to be thorough and focussed on the details of a task, monitoring and evaluating information or plans.

Careers options

Studying at the Plymouth Conservatoire will open a wide range of career choices. You could look at channelling your creative talents by pursuing a career in the theatre. If you want to be on stage, then a career as a professional actor or dancer may appeal. If you do not want to perform but you are creative, you may enjoy roles such as directing, producing, playwriting or theatre/set design. If you are more practical, you may want to consider roles such as lighting technician, music technician or stage manager.

Roles can be competitive and once you have your foot in the door, many of the positions involve freelance work. To find out more about freelancing or running your own business, check out our Self-employment and Freelancing page.

Due to the variety of transferable skills that you will gain from studying the performing arts, you could hone your skills to attract audiences and promote shows by working as a marketing officer or marketing manager.

You could also use your creative skills to inspire others and work as a teacher (i.e., primary, secondary, or in further education) or higher education lecturer. Teaching opportunities are also available outside of a traditional classroom setting and you could consider using your artistic flair to engage with people as a Community Arts Practitioner. If you believe in the power of theatre to help improve and transform people’s lives – such as those of individuals who are facing mental or physical health difficulties – you could consider training as a dramatherapist. Dramatherapists work in a variety of settings, including the NHS, schools, prisons and charities.

When considering your options, remember that having an online digital presence (e.g., Instagram or a website) is essential to presenting your experience to potential employers and evidencing your skills.

It is worth remembering that many performing arts graduates take the skills that they have learnt elsewhere and find their way into less directly-related graduate professions, including marketing, the civil service and the charity sector.

Researching your career options

With such a wide range of careers open to you as a performing arts graduate, it is important to make sure you explore and research your options thoroughly so that you can make informed decisions about your future.  

Take a look at the following websites for inspiration:

Employment Opportunities

Below is a snapshot of what some University of Plymouth graduates told us they were doing six months after graduation. For some graduates, these jobs serve as ‘stepping stones’ to other roles by providing relevant workplace experience.

  • Theatre practitioner
  • Gymnastics coach
  • Drama specialist at a primary school
  • Company dancer
  • Dance teacher
  • Freelance dance practitioner
  • Assistant stage manager
  • Theatre actor
  • Gymnastics coach
  • Freelance dance instructor
  • Dance practitioner intern

Employers to consider

Further study

Some of the careers chosen by performing arts graduates will require or benefit from further study, so this should be considered carefully. The University of Plymouth offers the following postgraduate study options related to acting and drama:  

You should consider the financial implications of further study as well as selecting a programme that suits your interests, learning style and future career direction. The following websites are a good starting point for exploring postgraduate options, but you may also benefit from talking to a careers consultant about your particular situation.

Some useful websites to help you find a suitable postgraduate programme:  

Careers service support

Accessing support from the Careers Service couldn’t be easier: come along to the Careers Service Helpdesk in the Student Hub or access our 24/7 online resources.

A wide range of support is available from skills workshops to events, placements and internships advice, 1-2-1 appointments and help getting started with LinkedIn.

Our bite-sized Skills Workshops can give your career the boost it needs. Choose from a range of topics:

  • effective career planning
  • job hunting techniques
  • finding part-time work
  • CVs and interviews
  • mastering LinkedIn
  • and more.

Workshops are delivered by the Careers Service but they are also an opportunity to learn from your peers, share experiences and ask questions. Visit myCareer to see the full range of activities and to book your place.

Connect with graduates

Build your network and job sector knowledge using LinkedIn’s alumni tool. This will allow you to see the career journeys of graduates from your programme, the qualifications they completed, the skills they developed and the employers they worked for. You can then ‘connect’ with people of interest.

  • Search LinkedIn for ‘University of Plymouth’
  • click on ‘Alumni’
  • filter the results by subject, sector, company or location.
For more information about the alumni tool, click on the LinkedIn alumni tool guide. If you are looking for help to set up or learn how to make the most out of your LinkedIn profile, click on the LinkedIn guide for students or come to one of our workshops.

Gaining work experience

Undertaking work experience in your first and second years will help you stand out from the crowd when the time comes for you to complete applications for graduate employment and further study. Work experience develops valuable skills and qualities that employers are looking for and is essential for many roles. It can also help you to confirm or rule out particular career choices. Furthermore, experience in the workplace can bring you into contact with people who may be able to assist you at the beginning of your career.

You have plenty of options open to you. You could apply for a placement, work part-time around your studies, undertake volunteering or approach organisations directly to negotiate short periods of work experience. Some organisations offer paid internships over the summer or of one year’s duration. If you want to get into the theatre then, during your studies, get involved in as many shows as possible at the university or within your local community. You should also think about volunteering as a stage crew member; this will give you a great introduction to the wide range of roles available.

The University of Plymouth Students’ Union also offers a wide range of volunteering opportunities.


Clubs and societies

Participating in a sport or society shows employers you are engaged and can seek out opportunities. It also helps you improve your teamwork, communication and negotiation skills. Committee members can develop leadership, diplomacy and organisational skills and will gain experience of meetings, handling funds and society promotion

You may choose to join a society that is specifically linked to acting and drama, such as UPAD, or take the opportunity to explore the university’s wide range of clubs, societies and sports, all of which can help you to broaden your horizons and explore new interests.


Tutor and academic support

Your tutor and other academic staff are an excellent source of support for your career development. They will have experience and contacts across industry and academia, so please approach them for advice and insights into careers you are considering. Your tutor will ultimately be writing references for your employment or further study applications, so establishing a positive relationship with this person is invaluable.