How to Become an


The complete career guide to be an Actors: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • 9.7%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Creativity Focused
    Career Attribute
  • Get to Travel
    Career Attribute

Actors work to portray realistic characters in theater productions, television shows, and movies. They study the characters they’re playing in roles they’ve secured, and work to make those characters as realistic as possible. When not acting, they spend their time looking and auditioning for new roles.

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What is an Actors?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in actor roles:

  • Scour ads or work with an agent to find new roles to audition for
  • Attend auditions and read lines or perform monologues to try out for new roles
  • Research characters, historical periods, and other aspects of secured roles in order to best portray characters
  • Memorize lines for roles, and participate in filming sessions or act out roles in front of a live audience
  • Learn new skills as needed for roles, such as playing an instrument, dancing like a ballerina, or performing stunts

A Day in the Life

Actors and actresses are responsible for bringing characters to life. They act in theater productions—including plays and musicals—television shows, and movies. While the execution is a bit different depending on the medium they act in, actors in all roles are responsible for providing written characters with a real and believable personality. To do this, actors must often conduct research on the character, understand the history of the time period or setting, and form a persona to be called upon when acting.

A big part of acting is memorization. For live productions, actors must memorize and deliver a significant number of lines, especially if playing a main character. Actors practice these lines with other cast members in practice sessions and rehearsals, and they also practice on their own time. For theater productions, they spend a lot of time practicing and rehearsing. For movies and TV shows, they spend a lot of time filming every aspect of the work with other actors, guided by directors during the process.

When actors aren’t filming or preparing for a secured role, they’re looking for new work. Some may choose to work with agents that help find work and negotiate opportunities for them, and some look for open auditions on their own. To audition for open roles, actors may need to read lines from a script, or they may come prepared with a monologue to present. They often spend long hours at auditions, waiting for their turn to come up so that they can audition for open roles in plays and productions.

Typical Work Schedule

Actors commonly work irregular hours and have no standard schedules or shifts. Often, they work for several months on a project and are then off for some time afterwards, taking a break or auditioning for new roles. When working on a project, actors commonly work long hours and well over 40 hours a week.

Projected Job Growth

Demand for actors is expected to increase in the coming decade as movies and TV shows continue to increase in popularity. Additionally, new production companies like Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon have begun to add original programming to their offerings, providing more opportunities for actors who specialize in playing roles for television shows and movies.

Typical Employers

Actors and actresses are hired to work for television and movie production companies, for theater production companies, for theme parks, and by advertising agencies that produce commercials. Most of the time, actors are hired for a contracted period of time to fulfill the responsibilities of a role. It is rare for actors to be employed by a single employer for several years—most gigs last a few months to a year.

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How To Become an Actors

Many actors and actresses find success in the field with only a high school diploma, but that doesn’t mean their education ends after high school. In fact, whether they choose to pursue a college degree or not, most actors spend their entire life taking classes and perfecting their craft. Even highly successful actors engage in ongoing education, often needing to learn new skills in order to perfect their acting for a new role. For this reason, a college degree is optional, but it can be beneficial for your career.

Many actors pursue bachelor’s degrees in theater. As a theater major, you’ll focus on perfecting different acting skills, and you’ll also likely have opportunities to take on roles in school-sponsored theater productions. This can help you form the basis you’ll need to succeed as an actor after graduation, and it can also provide you with samples of your work to show to potential employers. You’ll also learn how to audition, how to put together a monologue, and other important aspects of acting.

Finding an agent can be helpful for aspiring actors because agents can help actors find roles that aren’t advertised elsewhere. Networking is also crucial in the role because many opportunities won’t be available unless you know someone who can recommend you for an audition. Additionally, while it’s possible to find work locally in many cases through local theaters or advertising agencies, many actors choose to move to Hollywood to be available for auditions in an area where most production occurs.

Actors Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Actors salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Actors's can make an average annual salary of ---, or $37 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make --- or $12 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #815 Nationally for All Careers

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming an Actors. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Actorss

  • 1.5%   Doctorate
  • 13.8%   Masters
  • 48.3%   Bachelors
  • 3.6%   Associates
  • 18.8%   College
  • 11.5%   High School
  • 2.5%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Actors job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 6,700 jobs for a total of 76,100 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 9.7% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #212 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Actorss

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Self-employed workers 12,700 300 0%
Theater companies and dinner theaters 9,000 400 0%
Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services 5,100 --- ---

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