How Can I Become a Drama Teacher?

Research what it takes to become a drama teacher in a secondary or postsecondary setting. Learn about the education requirements, job outlook and salary to find out if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Teaching & Learning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Drama Teacher?

A drama teacher is someone who instructs students in the subject of drama. Like other teachers, they prepare lesson plans and must assess the progress of their students. Drama teachers may use performances by the students as part of the evaluation. They teach students about the history of drama, drama theory and how art and music may be incorporated into dramatic performances. They also typically prepare students to perform in a live production. Drama is most commonly taught at high schools and postsecondary institutions.

Secondary High School TeacherPostsecondary Drama Teacher
Degree RequiredBachelor's degree; master's degree may be preferredMaster's degree; doctorate may be preferred
Education Field of StudyDrama, theater arts, educationDrama, theater arts, education
Licensure/CertificationAll states require public school teachers to be certified or licensed; may not be for private schoolsAll states require public school teachers to be certified or licensed; may not be for private schools
Job Growth (2014-2024)6% (for all high school teachers)* 11% (for all postsecondary art, drama and music teachers)*
Median Salary (2015)$57,200 (for secondary teachers, except special education and career/technical education)*$65,340 (for all postsecondary art, music and drama teachers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Can I Become a Drama Teacher?

If you want to be a drama teacher in a public elementary, middle or secondary school in the U.S., you need to hold at least a bachelor's degree and obtain teacher certification. You can enroll in a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Drama or a B.A. in Theater Arts leading to teacher certification in either theater or theater arts. Programs provide you with training in all areas of the dramatic arts, including acting, directing, playwriting, stage designing, lighting, producing and applying makeup.

What Can I Do With My Bachelor's Degree?

If you already hold a bachelor's degree in the dramatic arts, you might enroll in a post-bachelor's teacher education program to obtain licensure necessary to teach in a public school. You have to decide what grades you wish to teach and find a program that offers the appropriate license, such as licensure to teach K-12 in dramatic arts or secondary school licensure in the dramatic arts. You will take courses in classroom management, instruction design, and child development. You'll also gain teaching experience.

Do I Need a License?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that more and more states require licensed teachers with a bachelor's degree to earn a Master of Education, making earning your license through a master's program a better choice (www.bls.gov). A Master of Education may allow you to earn initial licensure to teach drama in certain grades (i.e. preK-12 or 7-12). Other master's programs focus on currently active, licensed teachers who want to obtain additional licensing to teach theater arts.

How Do I Become Licensed?

BLS reports that you need to be licensed to teach in public schools within all states in the U.S. You may not be required to have licensure if you teach in a private school. If you are not enrolled in an alternative licensure program, licensure requirements include completing a teacher training program, which includes coursework and a teaching experience. During your student teaching experience, you explore the duties of a drama teacher, including how to create lesson plans, locate learning materials, assess student performance and teach classes. You work with a licensed teacher who keeps track of your progress and serves as a mentor throughout your internship.

Teacher certification or licensure is a process that begins with taking teacher assessment exams, which are used by state boards of education to assess your proficiency in the subject you plan to teach. Many states use the Praxis II exam. You can register to take it online and choose between an electronic or paper exam (www.ets.org). The paper exam is generally less expensive.

Once you pass the exam, you can apply for a teaching certificate. Most boards of education require you to submit college transcripts and test scores to be eligible for certification. You need to undergo a criminal background check.

Will Being Experienced Help Secure a Job?

Some institutions offer endorsement (teacher is authorized to teach that subject area) in the theater arts. If you can find an institution that offers an endorsement in theater and a teacher internship program, you may enroll if you meet the program's requirements. You must have a bachelor's in drama or theater arts and work experience (number of years varies with the institution). You will begin by taking courses in pedagogy. After completion of courses, you may obtain an intern teaching license and seek a teaching position. While teaching, you complete additional courses before applying for your initial license.

Where Can I Find Work?

If you're not interested in teaching at a high school, you could teach at the college level. Many community colleges hire teachers who hold master's degrees and have professional experience. The BLS reports that most 4-year schools require teachers to hold master's or doctorate degrees, although education requirements vary from school to school. You won't need to be a certified teacher to work at a 4-year college but you may need teaching experience.

If you would prefer a non-academic setting, you might teach drama at a community center, professional theater or performing arts center. At a community center, you would develop youth drama programs and teach classes to students of all ages. At a professional theater or performing arts center, you might teach classes and workshops to both inexperienced and professional performers.

What Is the Job Outlook and Potential Salary?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a secondary school teacher was paid a median salary of $57,200 in 2015, except for teachers of special education and career/technical areas. The job growth for 2014-2024 was predicted to be 6%.

Postsecondary teachers were expected to have a 11% growth during this time. In 2015, the median salary for postsecondary art, music and drama teachers was $65,340.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

The work that art teachers and music teachers perform is very similar to the work of drama teachers. The same level of training is required. Those who teach at the high school level need a bachelor's degree and teaching license, while those who teach at the postsecondary level need a master's or doctoral degree in their field. Like all teachers, art teachers and music teachers must prepare lessons and review the progress of their students. Like drama teachers, art and music teachers may use a student's work in the discipline as part of the evaluation. Art teachers may have students prepare work for exhibitions and music teachers may prepare students to perform in concerts. This is comparable to the work that drama teachers do to prepare students to perform dramatic presentations, such as plays.

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