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Saturday, 25 June 2016



Get on the right path to becoming an an actor or actress.
A career in acting means overcoming a number of hurdles and developing a strong set of skills necessary to succeed both on- and off-stage. Perhaps no other profession presents a less straightforward path to success than acting, and anyone pursuing that path needs to answer several questions along the way, including: Do I need to earn a college degree or complete a formal education from a professional acting school? How do I gain real acting experience? Is it absolutely necessary to obtain the services of an agent or manager?
This guide serves as a starting point for anyone seriously interested in the world of professional acting. It includes a brief description of the real working life of actors and actresses, a rundown of the skills one must develop to succeed in this highly competitive field, and a list of steps to consider in pursuit of an acting career.


Actors typically audition for roles and then rehearse and perform according to their director’s instructions. They work in a variety of environments. Many jobs are in film, television, theater, and during live events. A large number of actors rely on working as “extras” for income.
Acting is not usually steady work so it is common for actors to audition for new roles on a regular basis. Most actors work irregular hours that include evenings, weekends and holidays. Some actors, such as those in theater, may be required to travel with a tour around the country.


Actors and actresses are generally creative individuals who work well as part of a team. As part of their education, they develop strong critical thinking skills necessary for interpreting all of the different characters they’re called on to portray. A good memory is also essential for actors because they must learn lines quickly. Actors tend to be both effective speakers and good listeners. They need to accept constructive criticism on a regular basis and be able to adjust to changing sets of expectations.


If you feel a career in acting is a good fit for you, you might be wondering what kind of income to expect. A variety of factors determine an actor’s income. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median hourly wage for actors was $20.62 in 2012. Many actors join unions such as the Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television or Radio Artists (SAG/AFTRA) or Actor’s Equity Association Union for stage actors. Joining a union can be expensive for new actors, but membership can help actors receive bigger roles for more money.
The map below shows details of the 10th, 50th, and 90th percentile earners for each state.


The career path for an actor or actress can start before high school graduation. It is important to determine early on whether an aspiring professional actor or actress has the talent and wherewithal to withstand the difficulties that are bound to lie ahead. One of the best ways to begin to learn the acting craft is to participate in a high school theater program. High school drama classes and productions allow students to develop their skills and experience what it feels like to perform in front of a large audience. They are also very important in preparing students for the inevitable countless auditions that await them once they venture into the world of professional acting or head off to a college or university drama program.
Although a college education is certainly not mandatory to succeed as a professional actor or actress, many aspiring performers can benefit greatly from a formal college or university drama degree program. Post-secondary drama programs can be found at almost every major public and private college in the United States, as well as at most community colleges. College drama programs allow actors and actresses to acquire a wide range of performance skills through classes in acting theory, theater history, stage production, dance, music, and more, as well as acting. College productions also provide aspiring professionals a chance to be seen by agents and producers who may be looking for promising new talent.
The acting profession is extremely competitive and it can take years before even the most talented and fortunate performers make a living in their chosen profession. In the meantime, it is critical that actors and actress continue to work on developing their craft. Most actors and actresses accomplish this by performing for free in local theater groups and attending regular acting classes and workshops. For many, this is where their real professional training begins. Acting workshops and small theater companies keep performers in top form by providing an environment in which they can stretch their creative muscles and work, work, work. They also provide one of most effective networking opportunities available. And a good reputation spread by word-of-mouth is possibly the best tool an aspiring actor or actress can hope for.
While not necessary to begin a career as an actor or actress, representation by an experienced and reputable agent can increase the odds of professional success. Agents are performers’ direct connection to the professional show business world. A good agent knows what parts are currently being cast, works closely with industry professionals and casting directors, and can stop you from making rookie mistakes that may cost you your “big chance.” Additionally, agents handle many of the business tasks related to an acting career so that a performer can concentrate on the actual job of acting. Locating a reputable agent can be difficult and it is crucial that an actor or actress thoroughly check out the legitimacy of an agent before signing a representation agreement. A bad agent can hurt an aspiring performer’s career as much as a good one can help it.


Earning a top-notch education is an important first step when pursuing a career as an actor. There are numerous acting programs in the U.S. that train students in the performing arts. The search tool below can help you explore the various options.
  • School:
  • State:
  • Degree Level:
  • Subject:
Total Results:1,216


In order to learn how to become an actor or actress in a degree program, it is often necessary to balance school with work and personal schedules. An online acting program provides the flexibility needed to incorporate coursework into a busy life. You will find some of the top online acting programs below.
  • School:
  • Degree Level granted:
Total Results:16
Actor or Actress Salary Comparison Tool
  • Select a state:
  • Select City 1:
  • Select City 2:
10th Perc…50th Perc…90th Perc…PhoenixTucson$0$15$30$45$60
City10th Percentile50th Percentile90th Percentile
PHOENIX 2012 MEAN PAY$19.16 per hour
TUCSON 2012 MEAN PAY$15.9 per hour


The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects growth in employment for actors and actresses to be about 4 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. A strong demand for new movies and television shows will be responsible for some job growth in the motion picture industry. Actors employed by small and medium-sized performing arts companies are not expected to see the same job opportunities as film actors, due to the funding challenges these institutions face. However, there should still be opportunities for work in large theaters.
The intense competition for acting jobs makes it challenging to pass auditions. Even auditions for minor roles attract large numbers of actors. Having a bachelor’s degree indicates professional training and can be an asset for individuals auditioning for stage roles.
Select a state to learn more about employment and job growth for actors and actresses.
  • Select a state:
  • Employed Actors or Actresses
    Employed Actors or Actresses38040042044046020202010460400
    1.41%Average Annual Job Growth15Annual Job Openings


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