Performance for Stage/Screen

Performing Arts students combine creativity with analytical/critical ability and a range of practical skills. Many students who study performing arts are aiming for a specific career within the industry such as acting or directing. However, your degree will help you develop skills and qualities sought after by a wide range of employers.  

Career options

  • Performing arts careers such as Actor, Director, Producer. As these are competitive areas it is often necessary to get other work whilst building up your performing arts career. Self-employment is very common and work is often insecure and unpredictable.
  • Related careers such as Arts Administration, Dramatherapy and Teaching. 
  • There is lots of careers advice and job profiles from the theatre industry on Creative Choices.
  • Wider careers; many employers recruit graduates from all disciplines and your degree will help you develop a range of transferable skills.

Self-employment and freelance work

  • According to the sector skills council, Creative and Cultural Skills, graduates need to develop the skills to make a job as well as look for one.
  • Start your own venture; this could be a theatre company, or something completely different! Raquel Bent is a Performance and Professional Practice graduate from SHU who has benefited herself from gaining work experience and has now set up her own social enterprise 'NowSheffield' to enable other young people to get experience. Read more of her story here
  • Feeling inspired? There is support available with this from the SHU Enterprise Team, whilst you are studying and for up to 5 years after you graduate. There is also some great insight on the Employability blog entry 'So you want to be an Artist?', which sums some advice from some local theatre professionals.


Some of the skills developed as part of you degree that are valued by employers include:

  • creativity and adaptability 
  • communication
  • confidence and self presentation
  • teamwork and collaboration
  • time management and organisational skills
  • self-awareness and self-discipline
  • the ability to give, receive and learn from feedback and criticism
  • analytical, critical and research skills
  • stamina

Getting experience

Get as much as experience as possible as early as possible to increase your chances of success. Student and wider amateur dramatics, volunteering at a theatre or community arts group, working as a runner. Doing paid bar/ushering work at a theatre or entertainment venue such can also help you show your passion for  performing arts. There are LOTS of opportunities on your doorstep and beyond! The SHU student union has eight performance related societies, an Arts&Culture programme, and wider volunteering opportunities. You can also get involved with Sheffield Theatres and sign up to their 'Making Room' mailing list so you don't miss any opportunities or events across Yorkshire and the North West. 

Building on your experience to maintain contacts/develop networks and build a reputation is crucial to success. You could also start to build a local network in the wider creative industries through the Sheffield Creative Guild.




 Employment trends in the creative industries

  • the majority of the workforce is located in London and the South East, but opportunities do exist nationwide
  • most workers are freelance or self-employed
  • 'portfolio careers' are common; workers manage a number of part time contracts at the same time - these could be all related to performing arts, or incorporate other types of work

Marketing yourself and job search

  • The main way that you will find work in this field is to network. If you aspire to professional acting, you will also probably want to get yourself an agent. You can get advice on this from Spotlight here.
  • You can  look for adverts in specialist publications such as The Stage. Many of the suggested links on the right hand side of this page also advertise jobs.
  • There is through advice about CVs, applications and interviews here. Performance CVs are very different from conventional CVs; the main differences being they are one page and include a photo. Have a look at the template on the bottom right hand side of this page (Useful Files) and also the advice on Actor Hub
  • Utilising social media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn professionally can also be useful for networking and a good way to keep up with relevant news and opportunities. There is advice about this here. Joining the SHU Stage and Screen alumni group on LinkedIn is invaluable.  
Last modified: 
Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 10:51