Actors: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Education Required
Many actors enhance their skills through formal dramatic education. Many who specialize in theater have bachelors degrees, but a degree is not required.
Training Required
It takes many years of practice to develop the skills needed to be a successful actor, and actors never truly finish training. They work to improve their acting skills throughout their career. Many actors continue to train through workshops, rehearsals, or mentoring by a drama coach.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 12% (Faster than average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
As an actors reputation grows, he or she may work on bigger projects or in more prestigious venues. Some actors become producers and directors.
Median pay: How much do Actors make?
$18.70 per hour

Actors express ideas and portray characters in theater, film, television, and other performing arts media. They interpret a writers script to entertain or inform an audience.

What do Actors do?

Actors typically do the following:

  • Read scripts and meet with agents and other professionals before accepting a role
  • Audition in front of directors, producers, and casting directors
  • Research their characters personal traits and circumstances to portray the characters more authentically to an audience
  • Memorize their lines
  • Rehearse their lines and performance, including on stage or in front of the camera, with other actors
  • Discuss their role with the director, producer, and other actors to improve the overall performance of the show
  • Perform the role, following the directors directions

Most actors struggle to find steady work, and few achieve recognition as stars. Some work as extrasactors who have no lines to deliver but are included in scenes to give a more realistic setting. Some actors do voiceover or narration work for animated features, audiobooks, or other electronic media.

In some stage or film productions, actors sing, dance, or play a musical instrument. For some roles, an actor must learn a new skill, such as horseback riding or stage fighting.

Most actors have long periods of unemployment between roles and often hold other jobs in order to make a living. Some actors teach acting classes as a second job.

Careers for Actors

  • Actor understudies
  • Actresses
  • Dramatic readers
  • Elocutionists
  • Monologists
  • Vaudeville actors
  • Voice-over artists

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