Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Louise Mc Donald from Defence Forces to give some advice for people considering this job:

Louise Mc Donald

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Defence Forces

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Louise Mc Donald
I would advise them to get themselves physically fit and to maintain it. I would also say that a sense of humour is very important and the ability to laugh at themselves. They should have self discipline and be prepared to accept imposed discipline. Punctuality is very important as is respect for others. If they had sporting interests that would be a help.

Enterprising people like situations that involve using resources for personal or corporate economic gain. Such people may have an opportunistic frame of mind, and like commerce, trade and making deals. Some are drawn to sales and marketing occupations. Many will eventually end up owning their own business, or managing a section in larger organisations. They tend to be very goal-oriented, and work best when focused on a target. Some have an entrepreneurial inclination.
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Entertainment & Performing Arts

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At a Glance... header image

Entertainment & Performing Arts

The Entertainment and Performing Arts sector includes the careers and occupations associated with activities that have the specific intention of captivating an audience.

For centuries, audiences have watched, cheered and clapped for all kinds of performances, from athletics to gladiators, musicians to dancers, and storytelling to drama. Invention and innovation has resulted in the development of a whole host of additional ways to captivate audiences, leading to lots of new occupations and career paths: still and moving image projection; recorded sound; cinema; radio; television, the telephone - all have their origins over a hundred years ago, and throughout the 20th century, have undergone a continuous cycle of reinvention and change.

careers in entertainment and performance

Television, theatre, circus, amusement and theme parks, tourist attractions, museums, galleries, restored historical sites and buildings - all have developed for their entertainment value, becoming increasingly elaborate over time in the interest of maximising audiences and increasing spectator numbers.

Consumer demand for entertainment brought huge growth in this area. Today, the entertainment sector is vast and has grown to include several new sub-sectors, all with the common goal of captivating audiences and be paid for doing so!

Opportunities with Irish in this Sector
Drama & Theatre header image

Ireland has a thriving drama and theatre world. It has achieved major honours, producing four winners of the Nobel Prize (GB Shaw, WB Yeats, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney), in the 20th Century alone. New works by modern playwrights such as Marina Carr, Martin McDonagh l or Conor McPherson are as likely to be premiered in New York or London, as they are in Dublin! 


Video: Getting into Theatre … A career in the Performing Arts

What do you need to know about getting a career in the performing arts? Ten people, with careers spanning across the industry, talk about how they got into theatre and how you can too.

Drama and theatre are becoming important elements in our educational system while broadcasting, film and television also offer new career opportunities to Irish graduates.

As well as actor or playwright, careers in this area include Stage manager, Casting director, Artistic director, Choreographer, Technical designer, Set designer, Costume designer; Make-up artist; Lighting technician; Stage manager; Pyrotechnician; Theatre critic; Theatre manager, or Drama coach.

There are are a wide range of related courses available from acting to theatre performance. Explore the Education and Training menu on this page.

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Music header image

Those who choose to study Music have a wide range of career choices. Employment can be found in many professionally related areas from teaching and producing, composing and performing, to managerial, administrative and legal services:
  • Teaching - at all levels; Vocal coach; Music therapist;
  • Performing - Pop, Opera, Jazz, Classical; Orchestra;

  • Creative - writing and arranging songs; music scores; overtures; commissions; instrument production;
  • Directing - choral director, conductor; church organist/director of music,
  • Producing - radio producer; record producer; theatre/video/film production; broadcasting (DJ); sound engineering; 
  • Multimedia - music publicity; recording;
  • Music industry - concert promotion; retail music; music distribution; legal and copyright;

  • Arts administration - development; management; advertising and promotion; 
  • Music librarian and information services
  • Music journalism 
Explore these and related careers in detail in the Occupations Menu on this page.

There are are a wide range of music related courses available from music production to voice and popular music. Explore the Education and Training menu on this page.
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Dance header image

The international success of Riverdance is a good example of the massive opportunities on a world stage for those who study dance.

Dancers can find opportunities to perform with musical productions, opera, musical theatre, television, movies, music videos, commercials and other various settings where singing and acting may also to required.

As well as Irish dance, styles include folk, ethnic, tap, jazz, ballet and modern among others.

Dancers typically work with a choreographer, who puts together brand new routines and dances or creates new versions of existing dances.

Dance is strenuous and demands a lot from the body, so most dancers end their performing careers by their late thirties. Some continue their careers in dance as choreographers, dance instructors and coaches, or artistic directors. Others may go into administration, such as managing.

Long hours go into rehearsing and dancers performing in family entertainment, such as musical productions, or pantomime, are on the road for much of the time.

Opportunities also exist to perform in nightclubs or on cruise ships.

As well as dancers, singers, and musicians this area of entertainment and the performing arts has created a diverse range of specialist and managerial roles such as management, casting, production, box office, PR and marketing.

There are are a wide range of related courses available from dance studies to dance techniqiue and performance. Explore the Education and Training menu on this page.
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Sound & Stage Production header image

The distinguishing feature of 'performing arts' is that the work almost always takes place in front of an audience - in other words, it is live.  For as long as there is written history there has been evidence of performance - the ancient Greeks wrote and performed their own plays!. Today, the performing artist can opt for a career in drama, music, dance, or any of the sub-sectors that have developed from these primary areas. 

Careers include dance, acting, comedy, composing, writing, music, singing, directing, producing and so on. They can roughly be divided into Onstage careers and Offstage careers:

Onstage Careers - these include all 'performers' - musicians, singers, dancers, actors, stand-up comedians, magicians etc. Onstage careers are the one’s that typically grab the media attention - the international rock stars, the Hollywood actors and the American or Australian sitcom successes.

Becoming a successful performer, whether you choose singing, acting or music, takes a lot of hard graft along with outstanding talent and a certain amount of luck. For every successful band such as ‘Snowpatrol’ or solo artists such as Rhianna, there are a hundred others that may look and sound as good as them, but never make it to the big-time. 

Offstage Careers - Behind every film, song or theatre production is a multitude of support personnel and services. This team of professionals is driven by the same love of the industry. Offstage careers are far more numerous: directors, producers, sound technicians, lighting technicians, video technicians, set designers, prop managers, builders and agents are all critical to this sector.

The work patterns of these personnel mirrors the fortunes of the singers, actors and musicians they support - a mad frenzy of work prior to and during a show or production, followed by periods of inactivity and possibly no work, and potentially, no pay.

[Audiovisual activities overlap with Media and Publishing. Careers in Film, TV, Animation, New Media etc are presented in our Media & Publishing Sector.]

The entertainment sector has consistently been a growth industry in Ireland and the number of courses supporting and training those committed to this work is expanding. Artists require a lot more than talent to 'make it' in what has become an increasingly competitive arena. Professional training has never been more important - equipping yourself with knowledge of the industry, the business, and accessing further support routes into the real world of showbiz.

It is only fair to issue a health warning at the outset! For every famous and successful singer, dancer, actor or musician we see, there are many more behind the scenes struggling to find work and make a decent living, just waiting for that 'big break' that may never come.

If you have a talent that you want to pursue, the satisfaction of displaying it may far outweigh the security of a 'regular job'. Ireland has always had an excellent success rate in producing world-class performers, and this success encourages and promotes high expectations for many in the profession.

Taking part-time work to make ends meet is commonplace among performers, but even the most modestly successful artist or actor will say that the sheer thrill and adrenalin rush from performing beats any nine to five job.

There are are a wide range of related courses available from sound engineering to production design. Explore the Education and Training menu on this page.

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26/27 Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1
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2 - 5 Warrington Place, Dublin 2
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The Old Milking Parlour, Ballymurrin Lr., Kilbride, Co. Wicklow
086 6084020
The Administrator, The College of Dance, Knox Hall, Monkstown, Co. Dublin
(01) 230 4115
The Samuel Beckett Centre, Trinity College Dublin, College Green, Dublin 2
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The Mill Theatre, Dundrum Town Centre, Dundrum, Dublin 16
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(0044) 20 7292 7330, The Courtyard, Ardmore Studios, Bray, Co Wicklow
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Irish Equity, Liberty Hall, Dublin, 1.
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SOLAS Head Office, 27-33 Upper Baggot St., Dublin 4
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Temple Bar Music Centre, Curved Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
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TG4, Baile na hAbhann, Co. Galway
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36-38, Westland Row, Dublin, 2.
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TV3, Westgate Business Park, Ballymount, Dublin 24
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69 Sth Great George's Street, Dublin, 2
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