What does a Drama Teacher do?

Drama teachers teach courses related to theater and helm student-assisted productions of plays, musicals, and more. While almost all drama teachers teach acting, that doesn't mean they're acting teachers; drama teachers also teach courses in numerous other theatrical subjects including history of theater, stage management, and directing. Drama teachers work with students from across the spectrum of age groups and experience levels, with aims that—correspondingly—range from merely developing a student's confidence and interest in theater to producing a professional-level theater artist with broad training and experience.
Most drama teachers are experienced theater professionals—veteran actors, directors, dramaturgs, playwrights, and technical theater artists.
Lower-level theater courses might focus on theater as play, incorporating improv and theater games and exposing students to a range of theatrical experiences, from acting to playwriting. On the other hand, upper-level theater education courses tend to be highly specialized, splitting into broad subjects like acting, directing, theater history, technical theater, and playwriting. At the conservatory or coaching level, a single subject like acting might be broken into numerous courses and approaches, including speech and voice, movement, repertoire, character research, auditioning, or even holistic acting techniques such as American method, Meisner technique, or Stanislavski's system. Regardless of their specialization or the level at which they teach, almost all drama teachers are involved in leading students in staging theatrical productions—for when it comes to the performing arts, there is truly no better teacher than experience.

At a Glance

Career Path

Whether they set their theater career aside or continue it alongside teaching as teaching artists, most drama teachers are experienced theater professionals—veteran actors, directors, dramaturgs, playwrights, and technical theater artists. While almost all drama teachers possess bachelor's degrees, usually only those who work at the college, university, or conservatory level are required to have master's degrees. Successful drama teachers can go on to become the director of the school's drama program, or enter the more lucrative field of high-level acting coaching, specializing in fields such as voice and accent coaching or movement coaching. Those who deeply appreciate the way theater changes and improves lives might be suited to careers as a nonprofit artist or drama therapist.

Finding Work

Drama teachers typically work for primary schools, secondary schools, high schools, colleges and universities, conservatories, and private acting schools. Those with a special license may work for nurseries, day cares, preschools, or kindergartens as early childhood arts educatorsNonprofit artists might teach in nontraditional settings like hospitals, prisons, community centers, homeless shelters, and foreign countries. Experienced actors and teachers might also work for television and film companies as professional coaches—or be self-employed.

Professional Skills
  • Acting
  • Teaching
  • Directing
  • Theater history
  • Creating a curriculum
  • Classroom management
  • Attention to detail
Interpersonal Skills

Drama teachers must possess sharp attention to detail, leadership skills, and enormous patience, persistence, and creativity. Compassion and empathy go a long way to helping drama teachers better understand the mindset of their students and how to increase their mastery of the material. Additionally, teachers should be familiar with a wide variety of literature and possess the analytical skills to dissect scripts and provide notes to students.

Work Life

Schoolteachers tend to have consistent daily schedules that may include after-school assignments, leading student clubs, and rehearsing for productions. Private acting teachers and on-set coaches have more unpredictable work schedules, including last-minute sessions with students facing an impending audition, or directors in need of assistance while already in production.

The Berklee Boost

Employers look for skills learned in the following Berklee programs.