Open Forum

Salaries in theatre vs. in other fields

  • 1.  Salaries in theatre vs. in other fields

    Posted 05-28-2019 18:58
    I've been noticing something interesting recently and wanted to bring it up.

    Now and then I see a job posting here or elsewhere for a design or tech theatre teacher or staffer, and more and more of them seem to require being able to both design and do several tech jobs, including, in some cases, AutoCAD. Some even indicate a preference for a Master's degree in the field. And others want a combination TD/theatre manager, which has been the subject of several discussions here over the past few years.

    But the bulk of the postings I've seen indicate yearly salaries in the $30s to $40s.

    Yet the current national range for an architectural drafter (who doesn't design, teach, or do hands-on tech, and who typically works a 40-hour week with benefits) is $36,918 to $53,274, according to salary.com. And just this morning I noticed an ad for a drafter in a store-planning firm, and the salary indicated was $60K a year.

    I've never really looked into salaries in schools before, and granted I may be looking at only a small part of the picture, but I find this very interesting.

    ------------------------------
    George F. Ledo
    Set designer
    www.setdesignandtech.wordpress.com
    www.georgefledo.net
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Salaries in theatre vs. in other fields

    Posted 05-29-2019 10:01
    My school thinks I could get a tech director/designer to work with my program to design/build for four shows a year and help after school for only $2500 a year.  Thats all the money I am given for for an assistant.in any capacity.
    Governmental institutions just do not value the arts enough to even realize what professional artists are worth sometimes, but also the money just isn't there. :(

    --
    Brooke Phillips
    Teacher/Director of Theatre
    Millard West High School
    Co Chapter Director-Nebraska Thespians





  • 3.  RE: Salaries in theatre vs. in other fields

    Posted 05-29-2019 12:50
    I'm also curious - how much do guest technicians/artists/designers get paid when they work with you?

    Maybe split it into three categories:

    those who work at your theatre all year, as George mentions (TD, Theatre Manager, theatre technicians, other theatre staff),

    those who work with you for the full run of a show (set designer/builder, costume designer, stage manager, TD, fight/parkour coach, guest director and so on),

    those who work with you primarily for tech week(s) (lighting designer, sound engineer, projections designer, make-up artist)

    (I'm not including musical director, vocal director, etc, because typically those are the music teacher in the school...although not always...?)

    If anyone has any rates to share I'd be interested in seeing what the national average is - or should be?

    ------------------------------
    Beth Rand, EBMS
    Educational Lighting Designer
    School Theatre Operations Coach
    www.PRESETT.org

    - HIGH SCHOOL THEATRE OPERATIONS BOOKS (http://www.presett.org/helpful-books.html)
    - ION, ELEMENT, EXPRESS - ONLINE MINI COURSES coming soon! (http://www.presett.org/litt.html)
    - HIGH SCHOOL THEATRE OPERATIONS ONLINE COURSE (http://www.presett.org/tmt.html) - NEW! INDEPENDENT STUDY for those who don't have time to join a cohort!
    - THE ECLECTECH SHOPPE (http://www.presett.org/eclectech.html)

    beth@PRESETT.org
    Westminster, CO
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Salaries in theatre vs. in other fields

    Posted 05-29-2019 18:08
    What Brooke said is so often so true.

    And then you realize that you get what you pay for, and the students are often the ones who get the short end of the stick.

    ------------------------------
    George F. Ledo
    Set designer
    www.setdesignandtech.wordpress.com
    www.georgefledo.net
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Salaries in theatre vs. in other fields

    Posted 05-30-2019 09:52
    I think the lack of appreciation for technical skills is apparent in the average set design of high school theatre. Unless you have a retired professional or accomplished parent willing to do it right, you are get typical and rather uninspiring standard flats with set pieces being dragged on and off stage in blackouts. With the educational community's emphasis on STEM, there may be a new awareness of the potential for these skills in theatre but no one's willing to pay for them yet!

    ------------------------------
    Kelly Cardall
    Theatre Arts
    Health and PE Chair
    Mount de Sales Academy
    Baltimore, MD
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Salaries in theatre vs. in other fields

    Posted 05-30-2019 11:11
    As much as I hate to say it, and given there are exceptions, I have to agree with you.

    For me, and for a lot of us full-time designers, the sad reality is that very often audiences see these "uninspired" sets and automatically assume that that's what we do. I've gone through this a million times when someone asks me what I do and I tell them, and they immediately tell me that they go (or used to go) to their kid's school on Saturday to build sets, and how much fun it is. Or they ask me what school I teach at and have a hard time believing that I don't teach. Or have a really hard time accepting that I don't have a "day job."

    This isn't just my own experience. I've talked with many other designers and they report the same thing.

    I've given up trying to explain it; it's just not worth the time.

    ------------------------------
    George F. Ledo
    Set designer
    www.setdesignandtech.wordpress.com
    www.georgefledo.net
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Salaries in theatre vs. in other fields

    Posted 05-31-2019 09:05
    As an educator of Scenic Painters, the discussion of pay often comes up. There is surely a spectrum of theatre workers out there, and they would come with their various price ranges. Often what a young technician takes away of value isn't money.  The  Summer stock experience is case in point, they get not only the much needed experience of production, interaction with up and coming other professionals and time deadlines, but that most important thing of all, solid contacts and friends that are the basis of their lives in the grapevine of their freelance careers.
    Your own students and volunteer parents do it for their own personal value takeaway.
    Hiring an assistant for a small amount of money certainly could work, the much needed "experience" including resume building that their future careers will depend on would be the other value to them. You could find someone for that, or maybe they could find you. Maybe consider offering it to a current parent volunteer that you work well with.
    This does not have to be equated with other professions which are hiring full time and need to pay them cash enough to sustain their lives.
    Just my two cents...

    ------------------------------
    [Rachel] [Keebler]
    [Director, Owner]
    [Cobalt Studios]
    [White Lake] [NY]
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Salaries in theatre vs. in other fields

    Posted 05-31-2019 11:11
    You're absolutely correct, Rachel, in that school and summer stock work can be great, and that money isn't the bottom line here. I did summer stock at a well-known program many years ago, and it was a wonderful experience for everyone involved.

    But going back to my original point, there isn't all that much professional theatre in the U.S. outside of a few large metropolitan areas, so many people's concept of theatre is what they see in schools (mostly when their kids or friends are involved) or, to a possibly lesser extent, in amateur community theaters. These two groups judt don't have the resources that professional or regional groups do, and often for good reasons. However, I would like to think that schools that offer theatre programs are doing what their academic and sports programs are doing: training students for the world they will encounter when they graduate. To do that, they need to approach subjects as they are in the world outside school.

    When I was in college, our schools often brought in professional actors, directors, designers, and others as an educational experience for the students. I can remember Gale Sondergaard in "Anastasia," Jon Voight in "Hamlet," and many others. These people were paid -- not their usual "star" fees, but enough to convince them to work with us. A local college has brought me in as a designer several times for that very reason, and the students tell me they really enjoyed it.

    Your Cobalt Studios, Rachel, is doing a great job of teaching professional scenic painting (I looked thru your web site and have read comments from people here who attended). I would like to think that people who take your courses and go into painting as a career (or as part of the services they offer) are recognized for the skills they possess and can command an adequate fee for their work.

    ------------------------------
    George F. Ledo
    Set designer
    www.setdesignandtech.wordpress.com
    www.georgefledo.net
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Salaries in theatre vs. in other fields

    Posted 05-31-2019 17:56
    Funny you should mention this topic… I was just reading the June 2019 issue of Stage Directions magazine (which, for those who don't know of it, is a free tech theatre publication – you can subscribe at stage-directions.com)… and the publisher's, Terry Lowe's, comments this issue was titled "Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!".  He mentioned that in the July issue they will be releasing the results of their "Entertainment Technology Jobs and Salary Survey".  So check it out!

    ------------------------------
    Beth Rand, EBMS
    Educational Lighting Designer
    School Theatre Operations Coach
    www.PRESETT.org

    - HIGH SCHOOL THEATRE OPERATIONS BOOKS (http://www.presett.org/helpful-books.html)
    - ION, ELEMENT, EXPRESS - ONLINE MINI COURSES coming soon! (http://www.presett.org/litt.html)
    - HIGH SCHOOL THEATRE OPERATIONS ONLINE COURSE (http://www.presett.org/tmt.html) - NEW! INDEPENDENT STUDY for those who don't have time to join a cohort!
    - THE ECLECTECH SHOPPE (http://www.presett.org/eclectech.html)

    beth@PRESETT.org
    Westminster, CO
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Salaries in theatre vs. in other fields

    Posted 05-31-2019 18:16
    Don't be shy, step right up.  As I posted in #3, I actually really am curious about how much your guest technicians/artists/designers get paid when they work with you.  In fact, I'm more than curious, I'm actually researching this at this time, so I really could use your help.

    But, I understand that you may not be comfortable sharing actual figures with the whole world (even if it is just our educational theatre world), so if you have a bit of spare time (haha) to help me out could you please e-mail me directly at beth@presett.org.

    I'd like to know about three general categories:

    ·       those who work at your theatre all year, as George mentions (TD, Theatre Manager, theatre technicians, other theatre staff),

    ·       those who work with you for the full run of a show (set designer/builder, costume designer, stage manager, TD, fight/parkour coach, guest director and so on),

    ·       those who work with you primarily for tech week(s) (lighting designer, sound engineer, projections designer, make-up artist)

    (I'm not including musical director, vocal director, etc, because typically those are the music teacher in the school...although not always...?)

    But, in your response I don't need anything more detailed than something like:
    TD – all year - $ _______
    Costume designer/builder – run of show - $________
    Lighting Designer – tech weeks - $_______
    That sort of thing - I don't need names or any personal information, just position, time commitment and pay rate.

    Thanks in advance if you have time to help me out!

    ------------------------------
    Beth Rand, EBMS
    Educational Lighting Designer
    School Theatre Operations Coach
    www.PRESETT.org

    - HIGH SCHOOL THEATRE OPERATIONS BOOKS (http://www.presett.org/helpful-books.html)
    - ION, ELEMENT, EXPRESS - ONLINE MINI COURSES coming soon! (http://www.presett.org/litt.html)
    - HIGH SCHOOL THEATRE OPERATIONS ONLINE COURSE (http://www.presett.org/tmt.html) - NEW! INDEPENDENT STUDY for those who don't have time to join a cohort!
    - THE ECLECTECH SHOPPE (http://www.presett.org/eclectech.html)

    beth@PRESETT.org
    Westminster, CO
    ------------------------------