in stage, radio, television, video, or motion pictures. Most actors
work hard to find steady work. Only a few become famous "stars."
Some well-known, skilled actors may be in supporting roles. Others
work as "extras," with no lines or only one or two lines. They
also teach in high school or college drama departments, acting
conservatories, or public programs.
under constant pressure. Many face stress from the need to find
their next job. Actors need patience.
jobs only last a short period of time—from 1 day to a few months—which
means that they can have a long time between jobs. Actors must
have extra jobs in order to make enough money.
long hours. They may do one show at night and another during the
day. They also might travel with a show. Evening and weekend work
is a regular part of an actor's life.
be in good physical condition. They must endure heat from bright
lights. They get water breaks so they will not get tired or sick
from heat or thirst.
|How do you get ready to be an actor?
many paths. They should love acting and entertaining others. Most
new actors play a part in high school and college plays, work
in college radio stations, or act with local groups. Some have
local experience and work in summer plays, on cruise lines, or
in theme parks. This helps many young actors sharpen their skills
and earn needed credits for membership in one of the actors' unions.
Union membership and work experience in smaller communities may
lead to work in larger cities, mainly New York or Los Angeles.
Actors usually work their way up to larger parts and productions.
train at an acting school or in a college program. However, some
people enter the field without it. Those who want a bachelor's
degree take classes in radio and television broadcasting, communications,
film, theater, drama, or dramatic literature. Many continue their
college training and get a master's degree in fine arts. Training
may have classes in stage speech and movement, directing, playwriting,
and design, as well as acting workshops.
work with a drama coach. They research their roles so they can
understand the story's setting and background. Sometimes they
learn a foreign language or train with a coach to develop a certain
accent to make their characters realistic.
a lot of talent in order to play different parts. Skills such
as singing, dancing, skating, or juggling may be important. Actors
must have self control and be able to follow directions. Modeling
experience also may be helpful. Physical appearance, such as the
right size, weight, or facial look, often determines who gets
selected for certain roles.
have agents or managers who find work, deal with contracts, and
plan their careers. Agents earn a part of the pay in an actor's
contract. Other actors try out for parts on their own.
a movie extra, an actor usually must be with a casting agency.
Actors only get small parts when more people are needed to perform
in a particular movie. Very few actors actually get parts this
|How much does this job pay?
half of all actors made between $15,320 and $53,320 in 2002. The
lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $13,330, and the highest-paid
10 percent earned more than $106,360.
The most famous
actors earn much more.
In 2002, actors
held 63,000 jobs. Many jobs are in New York and Los Angeles, but
they work all over the country.
of actors is expected to grow about as fast as the average for
all occupations through 2012. Competition for jobs will be tough
because many highly trained and talented people are trying to
become actors. Many actors leave this job because the hours are
long and they can't earn enough money. Only a few actors become
|Are there other jobs like this?
Outlook Handbook -- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics
|Where can you find more information?
about actors, producers, and directors can be found in the careers