Okay, so you didn’t make it to Hollywood, but there are skills that you learned while earning your fine arts degree that you can leverage elsewhere.

I Never Became an Actor, But I Don’t Regret my Fine Arts Degree

My Theatre Degree Gave Me Transferable, Money-Making Skills

CEE Standards: Earning Income

There are many students who want to pursue a degree in the arts. Unfortunately, many are discouraged from doing that because they might not “make it big.” Let this story be a help to your students who may want an arts degree.

Getting a theatre degree isn't usually known for helping people make a lot of money, but this woman shares how her degree has set her up perfectly for lucrative side hustles.When I told my dad I wanted to be a theater major, it prompted a big fight that resulted in us not talking for several hours.

He was worried that I wouldn’t be able to support myself and that I would end up like the stereotypical starving artist we always hear about. My father has been out of a job for the majority of my life, and my sense was that he didn’t want me ending up like him.

But I chose passion over profit and majored in theater, despite my father’s disapproval. In the four years I studied theater in college, I got out of my comfort zone and learned a lot about myself. Upon graduation, I realized that I didn’t want to become a famous Hollywood actor like many of my peers.

I didn’t have the heart or ego for it. But I still loved the arts and felt connected to theatrical expression.

Over the years, I’ve been able to leverage my arts degree in a variety of jobs. If you’re majoring in the arts (or thinking about it) and wondering how you can leverage your skills to make money, here are some tips:

Look at Your Transferable Skills

Having a theater degree, or any arts degree for that matter, may not be “practical,” but that doesn’t mean you didn’t acquire useful skills.

For example, my theater degree taught me:

  • How to speak in public
  • How to tell a story
  • How to manage different variables all at once
  • How to problem-solve in stressful situations (live shows can be quite the adventure)
  • How to think critically about human interactions.

These skills have helped me on the other side of the stage as an event planner, as well as helping me with my writing. So, while I may not be the actor I thought I would be, I’m still using what I learned in my theater classes to make money.

Create Your Own Platform

In today’s digital world, it’s crucial that you create your own platform. Why wait for opportunities to come to you when you can work to create opportunities yourself?

Start by creating a website that showcases your artistic skill. If you’re an artist, post high-resolution photos of your work. If you’re a musician, upload your songs to your site. If you’re an actor or filmmaker, put your reel up.

Have a “Work With Me” page and a “Contact Me” page that clearly outlines how people can connect with you. This sounds obvious, but you want to make it as easy as possible for people to know exactly what you do and how to get in touch with you.

Additionally, you can promote your work on social media. You never know how someone will find you, and having a platform can help you create your own opportunities.

Find Ways to Make Money With Your Craft

If you’re a creative type, adding money to the mix can feel dirty. It can feel like you’re tainting the process. But if you really want to make a living with your art — or at least make some money on the side — you need to find ways to monetize your craft.

Luckily there are a variety of ways you can do that:

  • Start busking. For brave performers, go play on a street corner or at public events. You may need to look into local permits or just be off the cuff and see what happens.
  • Sell your artwork on Etsy. If you’re a visual artist, consider selling your stuff on Etsy and other e-commerce sites.
  • Sell merchandise. If you’re in a band or can create fun designs, turn your stuff into T-shirts, totes, flasks, coffee mugs, and more. This can be a fun way to use your creativity.
  • Sign-up for Patreon. If you have steady fans and supporters, you can leverage that and earn money through Patreon, a crowdfunding platform that allows users to support artists through a monthly membership.
  • Network, network, network. In any profession, it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know. Connect with others in your field, as well as with your target audience.
  • Become a tutor, teacher, or coach. I worked as a theater teacher for elementary school students in an after-school program, and I loved it. It reminded me of why I fell in love with theater in the first place. You can always leverage your skills to teach others.

So if you’re majoring in fine arts or if you already have a degree, don’t feel like you’re stuck and have no options to make money. Their key is to be flexible and open to all opportunities.

Check List

  • Are you interested in a degree that is not known for “promising” that you’ll earn a good living?
  • What are the transferable skills in the degree that you are interested in pursuing?
  • Can you create your own platform? What would that look like? Do you think it would be helpful?
  • What are other ways you can make money with your degree?