Career Guide: Creative courses

A creative career can be very fullfilling, but can also be a struggle

Aisling Cassidy, graduate in Visual Merchandising, at the DIT Graduate Exhibition, LIFT OFF

Aisling Cassidy, graduate in Visual Merchandising, at the DIT Graduate Exhibition, LIFT OFF

 

For some people, creative arts is more than a career choice: it’s a vocation.

Visually-minded artistic types are spoilt for choice, although as many of the most relevant courses, for example at NCAD and the Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art Design and Technology (IADT), require a portfolio, it’s now too late for a change of mind.

Many other drama and music courses, including at DIT, UCC, Maynooth University, and the University of Limerick, are now already closed for entry, and will not be considered here.

Where to study

Royal Irish Academy of MusicLir AcademyTrinity College

Within the CAO, UCD, Trinity and Maynooth University all take more academic approaches to music, with less emphasis on performance (applications for Trinity College’s course closed last February). NUI Galway has a suite of interesting courses on offer, including a BA in arts with performing arts, a BA in drama, theatre and performance studies, and creative writing. It has a close association with Druid Theatre, in its Druid Academy.

Trinity College has the oldest and most prestigious drama studies course in Ireland which is taken as part of the arts course with another subject.

Career opportunities

There’s a cliche that drama and music graduates have been trained for a career as a waiter. But it’s as tired as it is old; these graduates have been trained to think creatively. Off-stage, many graduates move on to work in arts administration and management, teaching, marketing, production, writing or session music work.

Visual artists are mainly self-employed, and tend to combine their craft with teaching, art administration, or community arts. Product designers can have very good employment opportunities.

Salary expectations

Actors are used to living hand-to-mouth between jobs, with most earning less than € 12,000 a year. But related jobs in arts administration and teaching can be reasonably paid, although few people get into the arts to make a fortune.

Figures released in 2012 by Theatre Forum Ireland show artistic directors earn about € 55,000, while the chief executive of a festival could expect to earn € 51,185.

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