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Career profile Actor

Also known as Actor, Actress, Comedian, Comic, Community Theater Actor, Ensemble Member, Narrator, Performer, Tour Actor, Voice-Over Artist

Actor

Also known as Actor, Actress, Comedian

Interests Profile
  • Artistic
  • Enterprising
  • Social
Pay Range
$10 - $64 (hourly)
Required Skills
  • Speaking
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
Knowledge Areas
  • Fine Arts
  • Communications and Media
  • Sociology and Anthropology
Core tasks
  • Collaborate with other actors as part of an ensemble.
  • Portray and interpret roles, using speech, gestures, and body movements, to entertain, inform, or instruct radio, film, television, or live audiences.
  • Work closely with directors, other actors, and playwrights to find the interpretation most suited to the role.
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What does an Actor do?

Actors play parts in stage, television, radio, video, or film productions, or other settings for entertainment, information, or instruction.

In addition, Actors

  • interpret serious or comic role by speech, gesture, and body movement to entertain or inform audience,
  • may dance and sing.

What kind of tasks does an Actor perform regularly?

Actors are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Collaborate with other actors as part of an ensemble.
  • Portray and interpret roles, using speech, gestures, and body movements, to entertain, inform, or instruct radio, film, television, or live audiences.
  • Work closely with directors, other actors, and playwrights to find the interpretation most suited to the role.
  • Perform humorous and serious interpretations of emotions, actions, and situations, using body movements, facial expressions, and gestures.
  • Study and rehearse roles from scripts to interpret, learn and memorize lines, stunts, and cues as directed.
  • Learn about characters in scripts and their relationships to each other to develop role interpretations.
  • Attend auditions and casting calls to audition for roles.
  • Sing or dance during dramatic or comedic performances.
  • Tell jokes, perform comic dances, songs and skits, impersonate mannerisms and voices of others, contort face, and use other devices to amuse audiences.
  • Work with other crew members responsible for lighting, costumes, make-up, and props.
  • Read from scripts or books to narrate action or to inform or entertain audiences, utilizing few or no stage props.
  • Promote productions using means such as interviews about plays or movies.
  • Prepare and perform action stunts for motion picture, television, or stage productions.

The above responsibilities are specific to Actors. More generally, Actors are involved in several broader types of activities:

Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Thinking Creatively
Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
Performing General Physical Activities
Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

What is an Actor salary?

The median hourly wage for an Actor is $21, and the average hourly wage is $31. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Actor hourly wage range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low wages.

Many Actors earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Actors earn less than $10 per hour, 25% earn less than $14, 75% earn less than $30, and 90% earn less than $64.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Actors is expected to change by 32.4%, and there should be roughly 8,200 open positions for Actors every year.

Median hourly wage
$21
Typical hourly wage
$10 - $64
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
32.4%

What personality traits are common among Actors?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as an Actor are usually higher in their Artistic and Enterprising interests.

Actors typically have very strong Artistic interests. Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

Also, Actors typically have moderate Enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as an Actor tend to value Relationships, Achievement, and Independence.

Most importantly, Actors very strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Actors strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Lastly, Actors moderately value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Actors must consistently demonstrate qualities such as cooperation, persistence, and initiative.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Actors, ranked by importance:

Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Persistence
Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
Initiative
Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Social Orientation
Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.

What education and training do Actors need?

Working as an Actor usually requires a high school diploma.

Actors need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Actors

  • 2.1% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 14.0% completed high school or secondary school
  • 16.5% completed some college coursework
  • 5.4% earned a Associate's degree
  • 47.9% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 13.2% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.9% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Actors

Actors may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as fine arts, communications and media, or sociology and anthropology knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Actors might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Fine Arts
Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.
Communications and Media
Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
Sociology and Anthropology
Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures, and their history and origins.
Psychology
Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

Important Abilities needed by Actors

Actors must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Actors need abilities such as oral expression, oral comprehension, and speech clarity in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Actors, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Speech Clarity
The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
Memorization
The ability to remember information such as words, numbers, pictures, and procedures.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

Critical Skills needed by Actors

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Actors frequently use skills like speaking, reading comprehension, and active listening to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Actors, ranked by their relative importance.

Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Social Perceptiveness
Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Monitoring
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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