The Visual and Performing Arts

If you enjoy drawing or dancing in your spare time and like to attend theatrical performances or watch movies, a program and career in the visual and performing arts may be right for you. Read on to learn more about degree programs and salaries for aspiring actors, artists, dancers and filmmakers.

Are Visual and Performing Arts for Me?

Career Overview

The visual and performing arts encompass the creation and enactment of artistic works within disciplines like painting, sculpture, dance, theater and cinematography. Other artistic and humanistic subjects, such as music and literature, influence the visual and performing arts. Your personal preferences would determine your educational and professional picks. You might specialize in one art form or combine several crafts.

If you decide to pursue studies within the visual and performing arts, your degree program may include topics in art history, discipline-specific art techniques and theories, graphic design, literary theory and aesthetics. If you want to succeed, you'll need skills, talent and a passion for the craft. You must be able to endure the challenges this field can present to you and have the capacity to deal with rejection.

Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the visual and performing arts fields are quite competitive. Although you might be extremely successful, you should be prepared to supplement your income with a second job. As reported by the BLS in May 2013, the median hourly wage for dancers was $14.87, while actors earned $22.15. Producers and directors earned a median hourly wage of $33.40, while fine artists were paid $20.48 an hour (

How Can I Work in Visual and Performing Arts?

Educational Options

Although a formal education is not necessary to work in this field, it can help you refine your techniques and explore additional career options. There are visual and performing arts degree programs at the associate's, bachelor's and graduate levels. An undergraduate degree program will help you build your portfolio or resume, and the credentials will improve your job prospects. A graduate degree program can teach you advanced technological skills and other techniques. If you earn a bachelor's degree and a teaching certificate, you'll be qualified to teach the visual and dramatic arts at the elementary and secondary levels, while earning a master's degree in the performing arts or the visual arts can allow you to teach at the postsecondary level.

Information for Fine Artists

If you wish to become a sculptor, glassblower, illustrator, painter or other type of professional artist, entering a degree program in visual or fine arts can provide you with the artistic knowledge and skills required by the field. You could learn sketching techniques, color theory and graphic design fundamentals.

Information for Dancers

Are you a dancer? Training usually begins early in life and involves many hours of daily practice. You might specialize in a certain dance type such as ballet, jazz or modern dance. You may not need a formal education to begin your career, but it can help if you want to continue working in this field throughout your life. Degree programs can teach you more about dance interpretation, movement analysis and body expression. They can prepare you for a career in teaching this art form after you stop dancing professionally.

Information for Filmmakers

If a career related to movie making is what you would most like to pursue, you have several options. Drama degree programs can help refine the aspiring actor's talents. Your knowledge of the field will be increased through training in acting methods, literary analysis, theatre history and staging. If you want to become a movie director or producer, you might want to consider a program focused on film studies or filmmaking. These programs can teach you the fundamental theories, practices and skills required in such an occupation. Studying film from artistic and business perspectives can improve your job prospects.

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