How to Become an Actor
Actor Careers & Degrees

The first impression a person may have of an Actor is that the majority of people in this profession are rich and famous.

However, individuals who want to become an Actor can also look for opportunities in mediums that are not strictly located in Hollywood.

Although Actors based out of Hollywood, CA have the highest earning potential, Actors who perform in other mediums can also make a living out of acting.

Actors on television or on the big screen are the most visible, yet more likely to be closed off.

Because of this, many individuals don’t realize the sacrifice and hard work needed to attain that level of success.

Individuals who want to become an Actor need a combination of talent, patience and tenacity in order to make a career in acting.

Education Requirements to Become an Actor

There are many paths an individual can take in order to become an Actor.

There is no specific path an individual needs to take in order to be successful in this profession.

However, an aspiring actor has plenty of opportunities to work on their skills in order to get better in their craft.

Opportunities to gain experience in Acting can range from taking extracurricular classes, begin taking acting courses in high school or also study acting in a post-secondary institution such as a college or university.

An individual can study acting or a related field at the college level in order to gain experience and enhance their skill set to succeed in this field.

There is no specific major an individual needs to focus on, although taking certain classes and getting a degree in an acting related field will help with one’s acting resume.

An individual can focus on theater arts or a drama degree to build their craft.

Taking classes in film, drama, dance or music can also help individuals develop a well-rounded skill set as well as preparing students for the entertainment industry as a whole.

Actor Job Description

The main duties for an Actor include reading and interpreting scripts or plays in order to gain an understanding of the character they have been hired to enact.

Through acting, individuals perform a variety of expressions in order to fully portray the role of a character.

Through expression, Actors will also communicate ideas and emotions developed through a written character.

They will also interpret the written script for entertainment purposes.

Successful Actors oftentimes hire professionals known as agents.

These agents have connections to production companies and serve as the middle person in helping an Actor attain an acting job.

Because Actors experience a lot of down time during acting jobs, up and coming or entry level Actors will spend a lot of their time looking for and auditioning for acting roles.

For Actors who find consistent work, they will spend their time between acting jobs researching characters, learning about the circumstances and eras portrayed in the script and memorizing their lines and script.

The will also perform rehearsals to make the production more smooth and meet with directors and other professionals working on the set of films or theater productions.

Actor Salary and Career Path

The median hourly wage for Actors was $20.26 in 2012.

There is a large discrepancy between lower earning and higher earning Actors in which lower earning Actors made less than $8.92 per hour in 2012 while the higher paid Actors made more than $90 an hour during the same year.

Individuals focusing on an acting career should expect a 4 percent increase in job opportunities for acting jobs in all mediums.

This increase is expected to last through 2022 and is considered a small increase when compared to other careers as a whole.

Being a successful Actor is more than glitz, glam and fame that we are accustomed to seeing on Hollywood red carpets.

Professionals in this field are also hard working individuals who work on perfecting their craft and network with various professionals in the acting industry.

With the perfect combination of talent, strong work ethic and a talented agent, an individual will have endless opportunities working as an Actor in film, television or Broadway.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$*
$K
$K
$K
$K
$K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Arizona- NA -
California- NA -
Colorado- NA -
Connecticut- NA -
District of Columbia- NA -
Florida- NA -
Georgia- NA -
Hawaii- NA -
Illinois- NA -
Indiana- NA -
Louisiana- NA -
Maryland- NA -
Massachusetts- NA -
Michigan- NA -
Minnesota- NA -
Mississippi- NA -
Missouri- NA -
Nebraska- NA -
Nevada- NA -
New Mexico- NA -
New York- NA -
North Carolina- NA -
Ohio- NA -
Oklahoma- NA -
Oregon- NA -
Pennsylvania- NA -
Rhode Island- NA -
South Carolina- NA -
South Dakota- NA -
Tennessee- NA -
Texas- NA -
Vermont- NA -
Virginia- NA -
Washington- NA -
Wisconsin- NA -

The top earning state in the field is Arizona, where the average salary is $.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Arizona - $
Rhode Island - $
New York - $
North Carolina - $
Ohio - $
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Actors, OCC Code 27-2011, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat is an actor?

Actors portray characters in theater, film or television productions.

They use a script to express ideas and entertain the audience.

An actor’s work includes auditioning in front of directors and producers and meeting with agents, and other professionals in the field before accepting a role.

In order to authentically portray a character in front of an audience, actors need to thoroughly research the character’s personality and circumstances.

Actors also memorize lines and participate in many rehearsals.

If you want to become an actor, you should be aware of the fact that most actors struggle to find work and many of them never become famous.

Actors may have long periods of unemployment between roles and many have to take on other jobs to make ends meet.

Some theater or movie productions also require actors to sing or dance, so taking some singing and dancing classes may give you access to more roles.

QuestionHow much does an actor make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for actors was $17.54 as of May 2018.

Salaries vary depending on many factors, including the employer and the actor’s portfolio and level of experience.

Some actors earn less than $10 an hour, while others earn more than $60/hr.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become an actor?

Although there are no formal educational requirements for this profession, many actors take acting classes and some also earn a bachelor’s degree in the field.

The fees for acting classes vary depending on the coach and the school you choose.

An acting instructor typically charges between $30-$60 per session.

Bachelor’s degree programs in acting are also available at many colleges and cost, on average, around $40,000 a year.

QuestionWhat is the demand for actors?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of actors is projected to show little or no change in the next years.

However, there are many streaming services that produce their own shows and movies and this leads to additional job opportunities for actors.

Work opportunities should also appear in musicals or plays produced by large theaters.

Small theaters, on the other hand, have difficulty in finding funding and are sometimes forced to reduce the number of performances.

This is a highly competitive profession and you may have to participate in many auditions before getting a role.

QuestionHow long does it take to become an actor?

There is no one-fits-all recipe for becoming an actor.

If you want to build a career in this field, you should start by taking some acting classes.

You could learn your skills from an acting coach or by attending an undergraduate program.

Four-year bachelor’s degree programs are available at many colleges.

The best way to perfect your skills is by actually performing in real plays, videos or movies.

Some actors start by taking on smaller parts in order to build a portfolio.

You should be ready to participate in many auditions before getting a role in a movie, play or television production and you should be aware of the fact that many actors never become famous.

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