Areas of work, specialisms and alternatives

Performing arts

22 Jun 2023, 13:18

Performing and creative arts careers for graduates: performing arts.

Close-up of a digital camera recording a blurred performer on stage, capturing live performing arts.

The performing arts offer careers for actors, dancers, musicians, producers, choreographers, and writers. You can also work behind the scenes in areas such as set design, theatre management, costume design and lighting.

The range of specialist and managerial roles include theatre manager, assistant stage manager, casting, production, box office, PR and marketing. Useful degree subjects include English and music; training in drama, theatre studies or arts management can help you get in. Involvement in amateur groups or other relevant work experience is an advantage.


A career in acting can involve working with commercial theatre companies, community theatres, and in television, radio and films.

Developing a career is notoriously difficult. Although there are no formal entry requirements, competition is fierce and formal training by means of a degree in drama is seen as an advantage.

Irish EQUITY represents actors, theatre directors, stage and set designers in Ireland and is part of SIPTU.


Musicians generally begin training at a young age and then proceed to degree-level courses.

A number of third-level institutions throughout the country have honours degrees in music. With appropriate experience graduates can gain employment as performers and composers, in vocal coaching, conducting and in private teaching.

RTÉ has an 89 piece National Symphony Orchestra and a 45-piece Concert Orchestra. It also maintains the Cork-based RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet, the RTÉ Philharmonic Choir and RTÉ Cór na nÓg. Belfast has the Ulster Orchestra. The three Army bands, located in Dublin, Cork and Athlone, employ 100 musicians while the Dublin-based Garda band involves 39 musicians. The National Youth Orchestra has 110 players: it holds a selection procedure nationally and all members must re-audition annually to keep their places. Audition applications are from 1 July to 1 October every year.

For those interested in becoming a secondary school music teacher, the Bachelor of Music Education is run jointly by the Royal Irish Academy of Music, DIT and Trinity College.

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