This how to become a drama teacher guide can help launch your future by nurturing acting talent. Learn what education and training you should pursue, mentoring insight from a seasoned drama teacher, and regional salary estimates.
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What Does a Drama Teacher Do?
A drama teacher is also involved in leading students through the production of a class show, especially if they run the theater department. They train students in theater, acting, stage presence, set design and construction, costumes, stage makeup, directing, dance and stage choreography, singing and diction.
Drama teachers educate elementary, middle and high school students, primarily working in public or private schools, from early childhood and up to grade 12. They also can be found in colleges and universities and can also find work with a local theater troupe, a summer camp, a large church or a children’s museum.
Some common drama teacher duties and responsibilities include:
Creating lesson plans per a student's needs and abilities.
Teaching students about plays and the history of drama.
Organizing and managing the learning environment.
Helping to develop competencies and skills in students so they can function successfully in society.
Technical tasks such as assisting students in assembling and managing sets and lighting.
Improving confidence, public speaking and self-expression.
Teach students how to effectively communicate character lines, stage directions or suggested changes.
Helping students with child and adolescent development.
Adjust lesson plans to incorporate learning differences.
How Do You Become a Drama Teacher?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for secondary school teachers — including drama teachers — is increasing as the population grows. This projected 12% growth will amount to an annual 132,600 job openings through 2031, although many may go to professionals who teach more standardized subjects, such as math and English.
With states like California passing guaranteed funding for the performing arts, these simple steps on how to become a drama teacher can help you apply for these supportive jobs.
Join your school’s drama club or class.
A drama teacher's most important qualification is stage or theater experience. Join your school’s or community’s local drama club, class or theater troupe to develop valuable stage skills.
Earn your high school diploma or GED.
Whether you pursue a volunteer drama teacher job opening or a full-time teaching gig, most hiring managers require a minimum high school diploma or GED in addition to existing drama experience.
Volunteer at local community theater troupes or free classes.
Working, acting, directing and volunteering for a community theater, churches and community center theater productions can give you an edge when landing a job. So the more work experience you have, typically with young children, tweens and teens, the more appealing you will be during the hiring process.
Apply for teacher certification or bachelor’s degree program.
Elementary, middle, and high school drama teachers must meet local state requirements to teach public school students. You’ll need to earn a teaching certificate at an accredited community college or university. Some states may require a minimum bachelor’s degree in Education — confirm your local requirements by checking your state’s board of education checklist.
Consider earning a doctorate in theater to teach at the college level.
If you’re interested in teaching drama students at the collegiate level, you’ll need additional training and experience. Apply for your Ph.D. in theater or a similar degree in the performing arts.
Start applying for open drama teaching positions.
As you look for open teaching gigs, use these drama teacher resume samples to see how your fellow instructors describe their stage and teaching styles. Once your resume is in order, search for jobs online for drama teacher opportunities. As you look for openings, leverage your professional network, including people you met at former volunteer jobs and school drama clubs.
If you’re struggling with your application materials, consider using a professional Resume Builder. This tool relies on expertly written text templates, professional resume templates, and a detailed questionnaire to craft a resume draft based on your theatrical experience in just minutes.
Drama Teacher Skills
Being a drama teacher means working with students of all ages. As such, drama teachers should be patient and understanding, especially when a student is not living up to her potential. Since drama teachers help out in all stages of a school production, they must know how to juggle many tasks and manage stress.
Some important duties of drama teachers include:
Flexible with student schedules and simultaneous commitments.
An endless well of creativity.
Communication and interpersonal skills.
Ability to work in a fast-paced environment.
Conflict resolution related to working with students who might become rowdy and unmanageable.
Ability to pivot and address any stage or production task.
Multitask directing students, maintaining a safe theater environment and managing a class.
How Much Do Drama Teachers Get Paid?
Secondary School Teachers, including Drama Teachers, are typically paid an annual salary, with the median annual wage in the United States being $57,200. The lowest-paid Drama Teachers makes about $37,800, while the highest-paid can earn more than $91,000.
Top 10 States for Drama Teacher Salary
Drama Teachers in the following states make the highest median annual wage in the U.S.
Drama Teacher Resources
We put together this list of additional resources to help you as you continue to explore a career as a Drama Teacher.
The Educational Theatre Association (EdTA)
A national nonprofit organization with a mission to shape lives through theatre education
American Alliance for Theatre and Education
An organization made up K-16 educators and theatre professionals dedicated to the promotion of theatre education
Association for Theatre in Higher Education
The professional membership organization for higher education theatre programs and the individuals working in them
Arts Education Partnership
Provides information and updates about current and emerging arts education policies, issues, and events at the national, state, and local levels
On the Web
Lesson plans for Drama Teachers
Aims to share ideas for teaching drama to young children from the age of three to eight
The Drama Teacher
Packed with resources for drama and theatre teachers at all levels of education
Drama Teacher Books
Teaching Drama: The Essential Handbook
A resource with 16 ready-to-go lesson plans that will provide teachers with the tools they need to build their kids into incredible actors
The Drama Teacher's Survival Guide: A Complete Handbook for Play Direction
Provides detailed, step-by-step information, examples and suggestions about how to direct a school drama program
The Drama Teacher's Survival Guide #2
Activities, exercises, and techniques for the theatre classroom. This is follow up to the wildly popular Drama Teacher's Survival Guide.