career: Theatre

What's it all about

Working in theatre could potentially mean a number of different roles. You might immediately be thinking of what happens on stage – but in reality there are a lot of other crucial elements to keeping a theatre running. What the audience doesn’t see is what goes on backstage, and before a show has even begun.

For example, the wardrobe masters, make-up artists, prop makers, stage hands, lighting technicians, sound technicians, follow spotters and many more. There are even career opportunities before you enter the auditorium, in the front of house and box office.


What careers are available?

  • Front of house management
  • Box office staff
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Lighting
  • Sound
  • Set design
  • Prop making
  • Stage management

Routes in

You might be surprised to hear that a lot of these jobs don’t require you to have attended university. Front of house staff like ushers and box office are often a great way to earn some money part time in a gap year, or while you’re studying. However, it’s fairly common to begin as a part time usher and work your way up to front of house management as a career path.

Back stage, there are even more opportunities for school leavers to get involved. The technical side of a production is no doubt complex and require skill. However, it doesn’t just have to be taught through higher education. There are many different apprenticeships and training schemes for young people looking to get hands-on experience and on-the-job training.


Theatres often have waiting lists for things like ushers and stewards, and due to the fact that many theatres operate on a zero-hour contract for these positions they’re often looking for new recruits. In terms of the back stage aspect to a job in theatre, there are a couple of ways to go about it.

First of all, you could look around your local theatres and see if they are looking to train a new apprentice, or hire stage hands than can work their way up.

The other option would be to research local colleges and see if any of them are training providers for that type of course. Some colleges offer training on-campus only, where you then move on to work in an actual theatre after you’ve gained the qualification. Other courses might involve a day release where you get on-the-job training throughout the course and potentially a position at the end of it.

We’re still on the hunt for a fabulous case study to show us how it’s done. Are you #DoingItWithoutADegree in this field? Then get in touch by emailing hattie@unisnotforme.com to find out how you can inspire our ambitious school leavers.


Perhaps one of the better known theatres in London is The National Theatre. Famous for its wide range of shows, plays, musicals and events, it also offers some amazing apprenticeship programmes.

“We currently have nine apprentices and trainees in post across a variety of departments. All are supported by mentors from both within their departments, and from the wider NT community, and regularly work together on a specifically designed TheatreWorks programme, aimed at developing their soft skills and thus their employability and confidence.”



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