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Drama and acting can be seen as a trade like any other. A certain amount of aptitude is necessary, but training and hard work are hugely important.

Successful actors have a combination of talent, personality, and dedication. Many drama students dream of making their Oscar acceptance speech, or working with famous directors. However, a great many actors make a decent living without ever being recognised when walking down the street.

For those who love pretending to be someone else, and who can handle the hardships as well as the successes, a career treading the boards could be an excellent choice.


There are a number of degree courses in Acting Studies, Drama, Film, Literature & Drama and Drama & Theatre Studies to choose from, as well as the higher-certificate course at DIT. It is also possible to take Drama as a major subject in an Arts degree.

Third-level Drama teaches a combination of practical dramatic arts and performance skills, along with more theoretical subjects. Subject you will study include Voice & Speech, Acting for the Camera, Improvisation, Writing, Singing and Dance as well as gaining a thorough knowledge of Classical drama, Shakespeare and contemporary Irish drama. Students may also take classes in useful business and teaching subjects.

Drama students play roles in various productions as part of their course. That will encompass everything from Greek tragedies to contemporary comedies. Most also become involved in college drama societies.

Options after Qualification

There is no single direct path to success in an acting career. Some people go straight from college productions to major films. Most spend their time auditioning or in small roles before they become established.

Young actors also need to acquire Equity cards. To gain provisional Equity membership, you will need to prove that you have had some professional acting experience.

The Work

Working as an actor isn’t all about glamour. If you are working on a TV drama, you could be waiting around for hours before they film your two-minute scene. Actors’ lives can be divided between time when they have acting work, and time when they don’t. Many graduates spend years in other jobs – whether bartending or waitressing, teaching or helping with youth drama groups – while awaiting their big break. Securing a good agent can be very important for making progress.

However, it has to be said that acting can be a tremendously enjoyable and fulfilling profession. Being an actor is closer to a vocation than a career. A small percentage of actors do become rich and famous, while many others get real satisfaction from their jobs, even if the material rewards aren’t fantastic.

Personal Qualities & Work Environment

Getting up on stage or in front of the camera can be a difficult and stressful way to make a living, and a good quantity of self-belief and ambition is useful for a career in drama or dance. The hours can be highly irregular and people often have to travel a lot, which can affect your personal and family life.


Classical Drama: Ancient Greek and Roman plays, usually comedies or tragedies

Take: Acting out a scene or part of a scene. There are usually several takes before a director is happy with a scene

Did you know?

The actor James Caan, probably best known for his role in The Godfather, has twice received ‘Italian-American of the year’ awards despite having no Italian heritage.

Further Resources

Irish Equity


Whichcollege.ie is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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