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Professional Athlete Job Description, Career as a Professional Athlete, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

income athletes sports players baseball

Education and Training: College recommended

Salary: Median—$48,310 per year

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Professional athletes play sports for a living. They have achieved top standing in their chosen field through years of training. Professional athletes are people with natural talent, stamina, and competitive drive. They have excellent reflexes and coordination and are well disciplined when it comes to rigorous practice and training.

Most professional athletes have risen from the ranks of fine amateur athletes. Amateur athletes play for the joy of competing and winning and occasionally for awards such as Olympic medals. Some play for schools, colleges, or clubs or in tournaments. Unlike amateurs, however, professional athletes earn money for playing sports. They play for profit-making teams—professional football, baseball, basketball, and hockey teams to name several. In individual sports including golf, tennis, and boxing, athletes play in tournaments in which prize money is awarded to the winner.

Professional athletes must keep their bodies in excellent condition. Even those players whose sports are seasonal must be concerned about fitness all through the year. Their training intensifies before competitions: the ice hockey or basketball star who plays for twenty or thirty minutes per game may prepare for an entire week by practicing, analyzing strategy, and watching films of the opposing team.

Education and Training Requirements

In many sports from basketball to baseball to golf, a college education is invaluable. Professional players are often first noticed by scouts who are sent to watch college players. Professional athletes in most sports retire from their games when they are still fairly young, and a college education can help them advance in the careers they choose after sports. Athletic scholarships are available at many colleges in several sports, although most are given to football, basketball, and baseball players.

Training for sports includes maintaining general fitness and playing at all levels, including community, school, and club teams. Good eyesight is essential in most sports, and glasses or contact lenses may be a drawback. Professional athletes must also be able to perform under intense competitive pressure.

Professional athletes are people with natural talent, good reflexes, and good coordination who earn money for playing sports, such as baseball and football. (© Duomo/Corbis.)

Getting the Job

Prospective professional athletes must start playing sports early—in any court, field, or back lot they can find. They should try to make it onto school or club teams, especially in high school. Scouts may be watching or coaches may be looking for Olympic hopefuls. Athletes who play individual sports should try out for national amateur tournaments or competitions.

The Professional Baseball College Scholarship Plan offers scholarships to promising players. The idea behind the scholarships is to give athletes jobs in professional ball upon graduation. As time goes on, those college players who do not make the grade still receive the tuition unless they fail to attend classes or stop playing baseball. Many colleges offer football and basketball scholarships, the terms of which vary.

Methods of getting into professional athletics vary with the particular sport. For example, professional baseball and football teams draft outstanding players from colleges. In the case of baseball, players are usually sent first to the system of farm teams, which are owned by the major league teams, where they continue to try to qualify for the big league. Football players are drafted directly from colleges to the professional teams.

Getting a job in professional athletics depends on winning in amateur competition. Some sports have special avenues to pursue; for instance, outstanding amateur ice skaters can apply for auditions for a limited number of companies that put on ice shows all over the country. Some of the less established sports such as professional skateboarding or jai alai have associations and leagues that sponsor competitions for prize money.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Advancement possibilities in professional sports depend on performance. Very few athletes reach the top-paying positions in any sport. For instance, of all the players who are given a chance in one of baseball's minor league farm clubs, only about 25 percent get to play major league ball. Only a few of these major league ball players become superstars with very high salaries, but even the superstars cannot play forever. Professional athletes need to examine their employment options before their short athletic careers are over. Athletes with college training often find work in such fields as advertising and broadcasting. Some athletes go into coaching, training, or managing professional or school teams; others open restaurants or sporting goods stores or work for community recreation departments.

Employment of athletes is expected to increase about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2014. The outlook for jobs in professional sports is brightened by the growing public interest in sports of all kinds. Such sports as rugby, soccer, and ice hockey continue to gain a fan base. The large baseball and football leagues have expanded as avid sports audiences have grown. However, the competition among athletes is stiff because of the large number of people trying to enter professional sports.

Where to Go for More Information

Ladies Professional Golf Association
100 International Golf Dr.
Daytona Beach, FL 32124-1092
(386) 274-6200
http://www.lpga.com/

National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues
P.O. Box A 201
Bayshore Dr. SE
St. Petersburg, FL 33731
(727) 822-6937
http://www.minorleaguebaseball.com/

National Basketball Association
645 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10022
(212) 407-8000
http://www.nba.com/

National Football League
280 Park Ave.
New York, NY 10017
(212) 450-2000
http://www.nfl.com/

National Hockey League
1251 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
(212) 789-2000
http://www.nhl.com/

The Professional Golf Association of America
100 Avenue of the Champions
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
(561) 624-8400
http://www.pga.com/

United States Tennis Association and USTA National Junior Tennis League
70 West Red Oak Ln.
White Plains, NY 10604
(914) 696-7000
(718) 760-6200
http://usta.com/

Women's National Basketball Association
645 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10022
(212) 688-9622
http://www.wnba.com/

Working Conditions

Professional athletes face fierce competition, long hours of practice, and a great deal of travel. Constant competition can create tension for many players, so they must develop the ability to concentrate under stress. Professional athletes must be able to perform in front of huge crowds. If they play well they are cheered by their fans; if they fumble or strike out they are booed by the same fans.

Athletes may have to be away from their families when they are on the road. They travel, eat, and work with the same people for weeks or months at a time. Injuries can keep them out of games or may end their sports careers altogether. Yet most players find that the thrill of playing well and winning makes up for the hazards of playing professional sports.

Earnings and Benefits

Income varies greatly among professional athletes. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of all athletes was $48,310 in 2004, but the top performers can earn several million dollars per year. There are no set salaries in individual sports. Athletes earn their income by participating in tournaments and meets. Professional golfers may make anywhere from nothing to several hundred thousand dollars a year or more, depending on the number of tournaments they win. A boxing champion can earn well over $5 million for a single defense of a title—or far more with television receipts. Professional athletes receive many fringe benefits, and the best-known athletes usually become celebrities who earn even more money through product endorsements, television commercials, and personal appearances.

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Find Jobs
Home Career Profiles and Employment Projections Actors: Career, Salary and Education Information
Actors
Career, Salary and Education Information
Go to: What They Do | Work Environment | How to Become One | Pay | Job Outlook | Related Careers
What They Do[About this section] [To Top]
Actors express ideas and portray characters in theater, film, television, and other performing arts media. They also work at theme parks or other live events. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.

Duties
Actors typically do the following:

Read scripts and meet with agents and other professionals before accepting a role
Audition in front of directors and producers
Research their character’s personal traits and circumstances to portray them more authentically to an audience
Memorize their lines
Rehearse their lines and performance, including movement on stage or in front of the camera, with other actors
Discuss their role with the director and other actors to improve the overall performance of the show
Perform the role, following the director’s directions
Most actors struggle to find steady work, and few achieve recognition as stars. Some work as “extras”—actors who appear on screen with no lines to deliver. Some do voiceover or narration work for animated features, audiobooks, or other electronic media.

In some stage or film productions, actors sing, dance, or play a musical instrument. For some roles, an actor must learn a new skill, such as horseback riding or stage fighting.

Most actors have long periods of unemployment between roles and often hold other jobs to make a living. Some actors teach acting classes as a second job.

Work Environment[About this section] [To Top]
Actors held about 79,800 jobs in 2012. Most work under pressure and are often under the stress of having to find their next job. Work assignments are usually short, ranging from 1 day to a few months, and actors often hold another job to make a living.

While working on location for a movie or television show and sometimes in a studio, actors may perform in unpleasant conditions, such as in bad weather or while wearing an uncomfortable costume.

Work Schedules
Work hours for actors are long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. Few actors work full time, and many have variable schedules. Those who work in theater may travel with a touring show across the country. Film and television actors may also travel to work on location.

How to Become One[About this section] [To Top]
Many actors enhance their skills through formal dramatic education, and long-term training is common.

Education
Get the education you need: Find schools for Actors near you!

Many actors enhance their skills through formal dramatic education. Many who specialize in theater have bachelor’s degrees, although a degree is not required.

Although some people succeed in acting without getting a formal education, most actors acquire some formal preparation through an acting conservatory or a university drama or theater arts program. Students can take college classes in drama or filmmaking to prepare for a career as an actor. Classes in dance or music may help as well.

Actors who do not have a college degree may take acting or film classes to learn their craft. Community colleges, acting conservatories, and private film schools typically offer these classes. Many theater companies also have education programs. A bachelor’s degree in theater is becoming more common among stage actors.

Important Qualities
Creativity. Actors interpret their characters’ feelings and motives in order to portray the characters in the most compelling way.

Memorization skills. Actors memorize many lines before filming begins or a show opens. Television actors often appear on camera with little time to memorize scripts, and scripts frequently may be revised or written moments before filming.

Persistence. Actors may audition for many roles before getting a job. They must be able to accept rejection and keep going.

Physical stamina. Actors should be in good enough physical condition to endure heat from stage or studio lights and the weight of heavy costumes. They may work long hours, including acting in more than one performance a day, and they must do so without getting overly tired.

Reading skills. When looking for a new role, actors read many scripts and must be able to interpret how a writer has described their character.

Speaking skills. Actors—particularly stage actors—must be able to say their lines clearly, project their voice, and pronounce words so that audiences understand them.

In addition to these qualities, actors usually must be physically coordinated to perform predetermined, sometimes complex movements with other actors to complete a scene.

Training
It takes many years of practice to develop the skills needed to be successful as an actor, and actors never truly finish training. They work to improve their acting skills throughout their career. Many actors continue to train through workshops or mentoring by a drama coach.

Every role is different, and an actor may need to learn something new for each one. For example, a role may require learning how to sing or dance, or an actor may have to learn to speak with an accent or to play a musical instrument or sport.

Many aspiring actors participate in high school, college, and local community plays. In television and film, actors usually start out in smaller roles or independent movies and work their way up to bigger productions.

Advancement
As an actor’s reputation grows, he or she may work on bigger projects or in more prestigious venues. Some actors become producers and directors.

Pay [About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]
The median hourly wage for actors was $20.26 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.92, and the top 10 percent earned more than $90.00 in May 2012.

Work hours for actors are long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. Few actors work full time, and many have variable schedules. Those who work in theater may travel with a touring show across the country. Actors in movies may also travel to work on location.

Union Membership
Compared with workers in all occupations, actors had a higher percentage of workers who belonged to a union in 2012. Many film and television actors join Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), whereas many stage actors join the Actors’ Equity Association. Union membership can help actors receive bigger parts for more money, although dues can be expensive for actors who are beginning their careers.

While these unions generally determine minimum salaries, any actor or director may negotiate for a salary higher than the minimum. Some well-known actors—stars—earn well above the minimum; their salaries are many times the figures cited, creating the false impression that all actors are highly paid. For example, of the more than 160,000 SAG-AFTRA members, only about 50 might be considered stars. The average income that SAG-AFTRA members earn from acting—less than $5,000 a year—is low because employment is sporadic. Therefore, most actors must supplement their incomes by holding jobs in other occupations.

Job Outlook[About this section] [To Top]
Employment of actors is projected to grow 4 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Job growth in the motion picture industry will stem from continued strong demand for new movies and television shows. However, employment is not expected to keep pace with that demand.

Production companies are experimenting with new content delivery methods, such as video on demand and online television, which may lead to more work for actors in the future. However, these delivery methods are still in their early stages, and it remains to be seen how successful they will be.

Actors who work in performing arts companies are expected to see slower job growth than those in film. Many small and medium-size theaters have difficulty getting funding. As a result, the number of performances is expected to decline. Large theaters, with their more stable sources of funding, should provide more opportunities.

Job Prospects
Actors face intense competition for jobs. Most roles, no matter how minor, have many actors auditioning for them. For stage roles, actors with a bachelor’s degree in theater may have a better chance than those without one.

Employment projections data for Actors, 2012-22
Occupational Title Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22
Percent Numeric
SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Actors

79,800 83,000 4 3,300
Related Careers[About this section] [To Top]
Announcers

Announcers present music, news, and sports and may provide commentary or interview guests about these topics or other important events. Some act as masters of ceremonies (emcees) or disc jockeys (DJs) at weddings, parties, or clubs.

Dancers and Choreographers

Dancers and choreographers express ideas and stories, using dance. There are many types of dance such as ballet, tango, modern dance, tap, and jazz.

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate images that entertain or inform an audience.

Multimedia Artists and Animators

Multimedia artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media.

Musicians and Singers

Musicians and singers play instruments or sing for live audiences and in recording studios.

Producers and Directors

Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, and other performing arts productions. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.



*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Used by permission. Find Jobs
Home Career Profiles and Employment Projections Actors: Career, Salary and Education Information
Actors
Career, Salary and Education Information
Go to: What They Do | Work Environment | How to Become One | Pay | Job Outlook | Related Careers
What They Do[About this section] [To Top]
Actors express ideas and portray characters in theater, film, television, and other performing arts media. They also work at theme parks or other live events. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.

Duties
Actors typically do the following:

Read scripts and meet with agents and other professionals before accepting a role
Audition in front of directors and producers
Research their character’s personal traits and circumstances to portray them more authentically to an audience
Memorize their lines
Rehearse their lines and performance, including movement on stage or in front of the camera, with other actors
Discuss their role with the director and other actors to improve the overall performance of the show
Perform the role, following the director’s directions
Most actors struggle to find steady work, and few achieve recognition as stars. Some work as “extras”—actors who appear on screen with no lines to deliver. Some do voiceover or narration work for animated features, audiobooks, or other electronic media.

In some stage or film productions, actors sing, dance, or play a musical instrument. For some roles, an actor must learn a new skill, such as horseback riding or stage fighting.

Most actors have long periods of unemployment between roles and often hold other jobs to make a living. Some actors teach acting classes as a second job.

Work Environment[About this section] [To Top]
Actors held about 79,800 jobs in 2012. Most work under pressure and are often under the stress of having to find their next job. Work assignments are usually short, ranging from 1 day to a few months, and actors often hold another job to make a living.

While working on location for a movie or television show and sometimes in a studio, actors may perform in unpleasant conditions, such as in bad weather or while wearing an uncomfortable costume.

Work Schedules
Work hours for actors are long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. Few actors work full time, and many have variable schedules. Those who work in theater may travel with a touring show across the country. Film and television actors may also travel to work on location.

How to Become One[About this section] [To Top]
Many actors enhance their skills through formal dramatic education, and long-term training is common.

Education
Get the education you need: Find schools for Actors near you!

Many actors enhance their skills through formal dramatic education. Many who specialize in theater have bachelor’s degrees, although a degree is not required.

Although some people succeed in acting without getting a formal education, most actors acquire some formal preparation through an acting conservatory or a university drama or theater arts program. Students can take college classes in drama or filmmaking to prepare for a career as an actor. Classes in dance or music may help as well.

Actors who do not have a college degree may take acting or film classes to learn their craft. Community colleges, acting conservatories, and private film schools typically offer these classes. Many theater companies also have education programs. A bachelor’s degree in theater is becoming more common among stage actors.

Important Qualities
Creativity. Actors interpret their characters’ feelings and motives in order to portray the characters in the most compelling way.

Memorization skills. Actors memorize many lines before filming begins or a show opens. Television actors often appear on camera with little time to memorize scripts, and scripts frequently may be revised or written moments before filming.

Persistence. Actors may audition for many roles before getting a job. They must be able to accept rejection and keep going.

Physical stamina. Actors should be in good enough physical condition to endure heat from stage or studio lights and the weight of heavy costumes. They may work long hours, including acting in more than one performance a day, and they must do so without getting overly tired.

Reading skills. When looking for a new role, actors read many scripts and must be able to interpret how a writer has described their character.

Speaking skills. Actors—particularly stage actors—must be able to say their lines clearly, project their voice, and pronounce words so that audiences understand them.

In addition to these qualities, actors usually must be physically coordinated to perform predetermined, sometimes complex movements with other actors to complete a scene.

Training
It takes many years of practice to develop the skills needed to be successful as an actor, and actors never truly finish training. They work to improve their acting skills throughout their career. Many actors continue to train through workshops or mentoring by a drama coach.

Every role is different, and an actor may need to learn something new for each one. For example, a role may require learning how to sing or dance, or an actor may have to learn to speak with an accent or to play a musical instrument or sport.

Many aspiring actors participate in high school, college, and local community plays. In television and film, actors usually start out in smaller roles or independent movies and work their way up to bigger productions.

Advancement
As an actor’s reputation grows, he or she may work on bigger projects or in more prestigious venues. Some actors become producers and directors.

Pay [About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]
The median hourly wage for actors was $20.26 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.92, and the top 10 percent earned more than $90.00 in May 2012.

Work hours for actors are long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. Few actors work full time, and many have variable schedules. Those who work in theater may travel with a touring show across the country. Actors in movies may also travel to work on location.

Union Membership
Compared with workers in all occupations, actors had a higher percentage of workers who belonged to a union in 2012. Many film and television actors join Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), whereas many stage actors join the Actors’ Equity Association. Union membership can help actors receive bigger parts for more money, although dues can be expensive for actors who are beginning their careers.

While these unions generally determine minimum salaries, any actor or director may negotiate for a salary higher than the minimum. Some well-known actors—stars—earn well above the minimum; their salaries are many times the figures cited, creating the false impression that all actors are highly paid. For example, of the more than 160,000 SAG-AFTRA members, only about 50 might be considered stars. The average income that SAG-AFTRA members earn from acting—less than $5,000 a year—is low because employment is sporadic. Therefore, most actors must supplement their incomes by holding jobs in other occupations.

Job Outlook[About this section] [To Top]
Employment of actors is projected to grow 4 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Job growth in the motion picture industry will stem from continued strong demand for new movies and television shows. However, employment is not expected to keep pace with that demand.

Production companies are experimenting with new content delivery methods, such as video on demand and online television, which may lead to more work for actors in the future. However, these delivery methods are still in their early stages, and it remains to be seen how successful they will be.

Actors who work in performing arts companies are expected to see slower job growth than those in film. Many small and medium-size theaters have difficulty getting funding. As a result, the number of performances is expected to decline. Large theaters, with their more stable sources of funding, should provide more opportunities.

Job Prospects
Actors face intense competition for jobs. Most roles, no matter how minor, have many actors auditioning for them. For stage roles, actors with a bachelor’s degree in theater may have a better chance than those without one.

Employment projections data for Actors, 2012-22
Occupational Title Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22
Percent Numeric
SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Actors

79,800 83,000 4 3,300
Related Careers[About this section] [To Top]
Announcers

Announcers present music, news, and sports and may provide commentary or interview guests about these topics or other important events. Some act as masters of ceremonies (emcees) or disc jockeys (DJs) at weddings, parties, or clubs.

Dancers and Choreographers

Dancers and choreographers express ideas and stories, using dance. There are many types of dance such as ballet, tango, modern dance, tap, and jazz.

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate images that entertain or inform an audience.

Multimedia Artists and Animators

Multimedia artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media.

Musicians and Singers

Musicians and singers play instruments or sing for live audiences and in recording studios.

Producers and Directors

Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, and other performing arts productions. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.



*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Used by permission.

Explore more careers: View all Careers or Browse Careers by Category

Employers: Post Job Find Jobs
Home Career Profiles and Employment Projections Actors: Career, Salary and Education Information
Actors
Career, Salary and Education Information
Go to: What They Do | Work Environment | How to Become One | Pay | Job Outlook | Related Careers
What They Do[About this section] [To Top]
Actors express ideas and portray characters in theater, film, television, and other performing arts media. They also work at theme parks or other live events. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.

Duties
Actors typically do the following:

Read scripts and meet with agents and other professionals before accepting a role
Audition in front of directors and producers
Research their character’s personal traits and circumstances to portray them more authentically to an audience
Memorize their lines
Rehearse their lines and performance, including movement on stage or in front of the camera, with other actors
Discuss their role with the director and other actors to improve the overall performance of the show
Perform the role, following the director’s directions
Most actors struggle to find steady work, and few achieve recognition as stars. Some work as “extras”—actors who appear on screen with no lines to deliver. Some do voiceover or narration work for animated features, audiobooks, or other electronic media.

In some stage or film productions, actors sing, dance, or play a musical instrument. For some roles, an actor must learn a new skill, such as horseback riding or stage fighting.

Most actors have long periods of unemployment between roles and often hold other jobs to make a living. Some actors teach acting classes as a second job.

Work Environment[About this section] [To Top]
Actors held about 79,800 jobs in 2012. Most work under pressure and are often under the stress of having to find their next job. Work assignments are usually short, ranging from 1 day to a few months, and actors often hold another job to make a living.

While working on location for a movie or television show and sometimes in a studio, actors may perform in unpleasant conditions, such as in bad weather or while wearing an uncomfortable costume.

Work Schedules
Work hours for actors are long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. Few actors work full time, and many have variable schedules. Those who work in theater may travel with a touring show across the country. Film and television actors may also travel to work on location.

How to Become One[About this section] [To Top]
Many actors enhance their skills through formal dramatic education, and long-term training is common.

Education
Get the education you need: Find schools for Actors near you!

Many actors enhance their skills through formal dramatic education. Many who specialize in theater have bachelor’s degrees, although a degree is not required.

Although some people succeed in acting without getting a formal education, most actors acquire some formal preparation through an acting conservatory or a university drama or theater arts program. Students can take college classes in drama or filmmaking to prepare for a career as an actor. Classes in dance or music may help as well.

Actors who do not have a college degree may take acting or film classes to learn their craft. Community colleges, acting conservatories, and private film schools typically offer these classes. Many theater companies also have education programs. A bachelor’s degree in theater is becoming more common among stage actors.

Important Qualities
Creativity. Actors interpret their characters’ feelings and motives in order to portray the characters in the most compelling way.

Memorization skills. Actors memorize many lines before filming begins or a show opens. Television actors often appear on camera with little time to memorize scripts, and scripts frequently may be revised or written moments before filming.

Persistence. Actors may audition for many roles before getting a job. They must be able to accept rejection and keep going.

Physical stamina. Actors should be in good enough physical condition to endure heat from stage or studio lights and the weight of heavy costumes. They may work long hours, including acting in more than one performance a day, and they must do so without getting overly tired.

Reading skills. When looking for a new role, actors read many scripts and must be able to interpret how a writer has described their character.

Speaking skills. Actors—particularly stage actors—must be able to say their lines clearly, project their voice, and pronounce words so that audiences understand them.

In addition to these qualities, actors usually must be physically coordinated to perform predetermined, sometimes complex movements with other actors to complete a scene.

Training
It takes many years of practice to develop the skills needed to be successful as an actor, and actors never truly finish training. They work to improve their acting skills throughout their career. Many actors continue to train through workshops or mentoring by a drama coach.

Every role is different, and an actor may need to learn something new for each one. For example, a role may require learning how to sing or dance, or an actor may have to learn to speak with an accent or to play a musical instrument or sport.

Many aspiring actors participate in high school, college, and local community plays. In television and film, actors usually start out in smaller roles or independent movies and work their way up to bigger productions.

Advancement
As an actor’s reputation grows, he or she may work on bigger projects or in more prestigious venues. Some actors become producers and directors.

Pay [About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]
The median hourly wage for actors was $20.26 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.92, and the top 10 percent earned more than $90.00 in May 2012.

Work hours for actors are long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. Few actors work full time, and many have variable schedules. Those who work in theater may travel with a touring show across the country. Actors in movies may also travel to work on location.

Union Membership
Compared with workers in all occupations, actors had a higher percentage of workers who belonged to a union in 2012. Many film and television actors join Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), whereas many stage actors join the Actors’ Equity Association. Union membership can help actors receive bigger parts for more money, although dues can be expensive for actors who are beginning their careers.

While these unions generally determine minimum salaries, any actor or director may negotiate for a salary higher than the minimum. Some well-known actors—stars—earn well above the minimum; their salaries are many times the figures cited, creating the false impression that all actors are highly paid. For example, of the more than 160,000 SAG-AFTRA members, only about 50 might be considered stars. The average income that SAG-AFTRA members earn from acting—less than $5,000 a year—is low because employment is sporadic. Therefore, most actors must supplement their incomes by holding jobs in other occupations.

Job Outlook[About this section] [To Top]
Employment of actors is projected to grow 4 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Job growth in the motion picture industry will stem from continued strong demand for new movies and television shows. However, employment is not expected to keep pace with that demand.

Production companies are experimenting with new content delivery methods, such as video on demand and online television, which may lead to more work for actors in the future. However, these delivery methods are still in their early stages, and it remains to be seen how successful they will be.

Actors who work in performing arts companies are expected to see slower job growth than those in film. Many small and medium-size theaters have difficulty getting funding. As a result, the number of performances is expected to decline. Large theaters, with their more stable sources of funding, should provide more opportunities.

Job Prospects
Actors face intense competition for jobs. Most roles, no matter how minor, have many actors auditioning for them. For stage roles, actors with a bachelor’s degree in theater may have a better chance than those without one.

Employment projections data for Actors, 2012-22
Occupational Title Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22
Percent Numeric
SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Actors

79,800 83,000 4 3,300
Related Careers[About this section] [To Top]
Announcers

Announcers present music, news, and sports and may provide commentary or interview guests about these topics or other important events. Some act as masters of ceremonies (emcees) or disc jockeys (DJs) at weddings, parties, or clubs.

Dancers and Choreographers

Dancers and choreographers express ideas and stories, using dance. There are many types of dance such as ballet, tango, modern dance, tap, and jazz.

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate images that entertain or inform an audience.

Multimedia Artists and Animators

Multimedia artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media.

Musicians and Singers

Musicians and singers play instruments or sing for live audiences and in recording studios.

Producers and Directors

Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, and other performing arts productions. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.



*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Used by permission.

Explore more careers: View all Careers or Browse Careers by Category

Employers: Post JobsJ Find Jobs
Home Career Profiles and Employment Projections Actors: Career, Salary and Education Information
Actors
Career, Salary and Education Information
Go to: What They Do | Work Environment | How to Become One | Pay | Job Outlook | Related Careers
What They Do[About this section] [To Top]
Actors express ideas and portray characters in theater, film, television, and other performing arts media. They also work at theme parks or other live events. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.

Duties
Actors typically do the following:

Read scripts and meet with agents and other professionals before accepting a role
Audition in front of directors and producers
Research their character’s personal traits and circumstances to portray them more authentically to an audience
Memorize their lines
Rehearse their lines and performance, including movement on stage or in front of the camera, with other actors
Discuss their role with the director and other actors to improve the overall performance of the show
Perform the role, following the director’s directions
Most actors struggle to find steady work, and few achieve recognition as stars. Some work as “extras”—actors who appear on screen with no lines to deliver. Some do voiceover or narration work for animated features, audiobooks, or other electronic media.

In some stage or film productions, actors sing, dance, or play a musical instrument. For some roles, an actor must learn a new skill, such as horseback riding or stage fighting.

Most actors have long periods of unemployment between roles and often hold other jobs to make a living. Some actors teach acting classes as a second job.

Work Environment[About this section] [To Top]
Actors held about 79,800 jobs in 2012. Most work under pressure and are often under the stress of having to find their next job. Work assignments are usually short, ranging from 1 day to a few months, and actors often hold another job to make a living.

While working on location for a movie or television show and sometimes in a studio, actors may perform in unpleasant conditions, such as in bad weather or while wearing an uncomfortable costume.

Work Schedules
Work hours for actors are long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. Few actors work full time, and many have variable schedules. Those who work in theater may travel with a touring show across the country. Film and television actors may also travel to work on location.

How to Become One[About this section] [To Top]
Many actors enhance their skills through formal dramatic education, and long-term training is common.

Education
Get the education you need: Find schools for Actors near you!

Many actors enhance their skills through formal dramatic education. Many who specialize in theater have bachelor’s degrees, although a degree is not required.

Although some people succeed in acting without getting a formal education, most actors acquire some formal preparation through an acting conservatory or a university drama or theater arts program. Students can take college classes in drama or filmmaking to prepare for a career as an actor. Classes in dance or music may help as well.

Actors who do not have a college degree may take acting or film classes to learn their craft. Community colleges, acting conservatories, and private film schools typically offer these classes. Many theater companies also have education programs. A bachelor’s degree in theater is becoming more common among stage actors.

Important Qualities
Creativity. Actors interpret their characters’ feelings and motives in order to portray the characters in the most compelling way.

Memorization skills. Actors memorize many lines before filming begins or a show opens. Television actors often appear on camera with little time to memorize scripts, and scripts frequently may be revised or written moments before filming.

Persistence. Actors may audition for many roles before getting a job. They must be able to accept rejection and keep going.

Physical stamina. Actors should be in good enough physical condition to endure heat from stage or studio lights and the weight of heavy costumes. They may work long hours, including acting in more than one performance a day, and they must do so without getting overly tired.

Reading skills. When looking for a new role, actors read many scripts and must be able to interpret how a writer has described their character.

Speaking skills. Actors—particularly stage actors—must be able to say their lines clearly, project their voice, and pronounce words so that audiences understand them.

In addition to these qualities, actors usually must be physically coordinated to perform predetermined, sometimes complex movements with other actors to complete a scene.

Training
It takes many years of practice to develop the skills needed to be successful as an actor, and actors never truly finish training. They work to improve their acting skills throughout their career. Many actors continue to train through workshops or mentoring by a drama coach.

Every role is different, and an actor may need to learn something new for each one. For example, a role may require learning how to sing or dance, or an actor may have to learn to speak with an accent or to play a musical instrument or sport.

Many aspiring actors participate in high school, college, and local community plays. In television and film, actors usually start out in smaller roles or independent movies and work their way up to bigger productions.

Advancement
As an actor’s reputation grows, he or she may work on bigger projects or in more prestigious venues. Some actors become producers and directors.

Pay [About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]
The median hourly wage for actors was $20.26 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.92, and the top 10 percent earned more than $90.00 in May 2012.

Work hours for actors are long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. Few actors work full time, and many have variable schedules. Those who work in theater may travel with a touring show across the country. Actors in movies may also travel to work on location.

Union Membership
Compared with workers in all occupations, actors had a higher percentage of workers who belonged to a union in 2012. Many film and television actors join Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), whereas many stage actors join the Actors’ Equity Association. Union membership can help actors receive bigger parts for more money, although dues can be expensive for actors who are beginning their careers.

While these unions generally determine minimum salaries, any actor or director may negotiate for a salary higher than the minimum. Some well-known actors—stars—earn well above the minimum; their salaries are many times the figures cited, creating the false impression that all actors are highly paid. For example, of the more than 160,000 SAG-AFTRA members, only about 50 might be considered stars. The average income that SAG-AFTRA members earn from acting—less than $5,000 a year—is low because employment is sporadic. Therefore, most actors must supplement their incomes by holding jobs in other occupations.

Job Outlook[About this section] [To Top]
Employment of actors is projected to grow 4 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Job growth in the motion picture industry will stem from continued strong demand for new movies and television shows. However, employment is not expected to keep pace with that demand.

Production companies are experimenting with new content delivery methods, such as video on demand and online television, which may lead to more work for actors in the future. However, these delivery methods are still in their early stages, and it remains to be seen how successful they will be.

Actors who work in performing arts companies are expected to see slower job growth than those in film. Many small and medium-size theaters have difficulty getting funding. As a result, the number of performances is expected to decline. Large theaters, with their more stable sources of funding, should provide more opportunities.

Job Prospects
Actors face intense competition for jobs. Most roles, no matter how minor, have many actors auditioning for them. For stage roles, actors with a bachelor’s degree in theater may have a better chance than those without one.

Employment projections data for Actors, 2012-22
Occupational Title Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22
Percent Numeric
SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Actors

79,800 83,000 4 3,300
Related Careers[About this section] [To Top]
Announcers

Announcers present music, news, and sports and may provide commentary or interview guests about these topics or other important events. Some act as masters of ceremonies (emcees) or disc jockeys (DJs) at weddings, parties, or clubs.

Dancers and Choreographers

Dancers and choreographers express ideas and stories, using dance. There are many types of dance such as ballet, tango, modern dance, tap, and jazz.

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate images that entertain or inform an audience.

Multimedia Artists and Animators

Multimedia artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media.

Musicians and Singers

Musicians and singers play instruments or sing for live audiences and in recording studios.

Producers and Directors

Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, and other performing arts productions. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.



*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Used by permission.

Explore more careers: View all Careers or Browse Careers by Category

Employers: Post JobsJob Search Advice: Careers Resumes Intervi Find Jobs
Home Career Profiles and Employment Projections Actors: Career, Salary and Education Information
Actors
Career, Salary and Education Information
Go to: What They Do | Work Environment | How to Become One | Pay | Job Outlook | Related Careers
What They Do[About this section] [To Top]
Actors express ideas and portray characters in theater, film, television, and other performing arts media. They also work at theme parks or other live events. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.

Duties
Actors typically do the following:

Read scripts and meet with agents and other professionals before accepting a role
Audition in front of directors and producers
Research their character’s personal traits and circumstances to portray them more authentically to an audience
Memorize their lines
Rehearse their lines and performance, including movement on stage or in front of the camera, with other actors
Discuss their role with the director and other actors to improve the overall performance of the show
Perform the role, following the director’s directions
Most actors struggle to find steady work, and few achieve recognition as stars. Some work as “extras”—actors who appear on screen with no lines to deliver. Some do voiceover or narration work for animated features, audiobooks, or other electronic media.

In some stage or film productions, actors sing, dance, or play a musical instrument. For some roles, an actor must learn a new skill, such as horseback riding or stage fighting.

Most actors have long periods of unemployment between roles and often hold other jobs to make a living. Some actors teach acting classes as a second job.

Work Environment[About this section] [To Top]
Actors held about 79,800 jobs in 2012. Most work under pressure and are often under the stress of having to find their next job. Work assignments are usually short, ranging from 1 day to a few months, and actors often hold another job to make a living.

While working on location for a movie or television show and sometimes in a studio, actors may perform in unpleasant conditions, such as in bad weather or while wearing an uncomfortable costume.

Work Schedules
Work hours for actors are long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. Few actors work full time, and many have variable schedules. Those who work in theater may travel with a touring show across the country. Film and television actors may also travel to work on location.

How to Become One[About this section] [To Top]
Many actors enhance their skills through formal dramatic education, and long-term training is common.

Education
Get the education you need: Find schools for Actors near you!

Many actors enhance their skills through formal dramatic education. Many who specialize in theater have bachelor’s degrees, although a degree is not required.

Although some people succeed in acting without getting a formal education, most actors acquire some formal preparation through an acting conservatory or a university drama or theater arts program. Students can take college classes in drama or filmmaking to prepare for a career as an actor. Classes in dance or music may help as well.

Actors who do not have a college degree may take acting or film classes to learn their craft. Community colleges, acting conservatories, and private film schools typically offer these classes. Many theater companies also have education programs. A bachelor’s degree in theater is becoming more common among stage actors.

Important Qualities
Creativity. Actors interpret their characters’ feelings and motives in order to portray the characters in the most compelling way.

Memorization skills. Actors memorize many lines before filming begins or a show opens. Television actors often appear on camera with little time to memorize scripts, and scripts frequently may be revised or written moments before filming.

Persistence. Actors may audition for many roles before getting a job. They must be able to accept rejection and keep going.

Physical stamina. Actors should be in good enough physical condition to endure heat from stage or studio lights and the weight of heavy costumes. They may work long hours, including acting in more than one performance a day, and they must do so without getting overly tired.

Reading skills. When looking for a new role, actors read many scripts and must be able to interpret how a writer has described their character.

Speaking skills. Actors—particularly stage actors—must be able to say their lines clearly, project their voice, and pronounce words so that audiences understand them.

In addition to these qualities, actors usually must be physically coordinated to perform predetermined, sometimes complex movements with other actors to complete a scene.

Training
It takes many years of practice to develop the skills needed to be successful as an actor, and actors never truly finish training. They work to improve their acting skills throughout their career. Many actors continue to train through workshops or mentoring by a drama coach.

Every role is different, and an actor may need to learn something new for each one. For example, a role may require learning how to sing or dance, or an actor may have to learn to speak with an accent or to play a musical instrument or sport.

Many aspiring actors participate in high school, college, and local community plays. In television and film, actors usually start out in smaller roles or independent movies and work their way up to bigger productions.

Advancement
As an actor’s reputation grows, he or she may work on bigger projects or in more prestigious venues. Some actors become producers and directors.

Pay [About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]
The median hourly wage for actors was $20.26 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.92, and the top 10 percent earned more than $90.00 in May 2012.

Work hours for actors are long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. Few actors work full time, and many have variable schedules. Those who work in theater may travel with a touring show across the country. Actors in movies may also travel to work on location.

Union Membership
Compared with workers in all occupations, actors had a higher percentage of workers who belonged to a union in 2012. Many film and television actors join Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), whereas many stage actors join the Actors’ Equity Association. Union membership can help actors receive bigger parts for more money, although dues can be expensive for actors who are beginning their careers.

While these unions generally determine minimum salaries, any actor or director may negotiate for a salary higher than the minimum. Some well-known actors—stars—earn well above the minimum; their salaries are many times the figures cited, creating the false impression that all actors are highly paid. For example, of the more than 160,000 SAG-AFTRA members, only about 50 might be considered stars. The average income that SAG-AFTRA members earn from acting—less than $5,000 a year—is low because employment is sporadic. Therefore, most actors must supplement their incomes by holding jobs in other occupations.

Job Outlook[About this section] [To Top]
Employment of actors is projected to grow 4 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Job growth in the motion picture industry will stem from continued strong demand for new movies and television shows. However, employment is not expected to keep pace with that demand.

Production companies are experimenting with new content delivery methods, such as video on demand and online television, which may lead to more work for actors in the future. However, these delivery methods are still in their early stages, and it remains to be seen how successful they will be.

Actors who work in performing arts companies are expected to see slower job growth than those in film. Many small and medium-size theaters have difficulty getting funding. As a result, the number of performances is expected to decline. Large theaters, with their more stable sources of funding, should provide more opportunities.

Job Prospects
Actors face intense competition for jobs. Most roles, no matter how minor, have many actors auditioning for them. For stage roles, actors with a bachelor’s degree in theater may have a better chance than those without one.

Employment projections data for Actors, 2012-22
Occupational Title Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22
Percent Numeric
SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Actors

79,800 83,000 4 3,300
Related Careers[About this section] [To Top]
Announcers

Announcers present music, news, and sports and may provide commentary or interview guests about these topics or other important events. Some act as masters of ceremonies (emcees) or disc jockeys (DJs) at weddings, parties, or clubs.

Dancers and Choreographers

Dancers and choreographers express ideas and stories, using dance. There are many types of dance such as ballet, tango, modern dance, tap, and jazz.

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate images that entertain or inform an audience.

Multimedia Artists and Animators

Multimedia artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media.

Musicians and Singers

Musicians and singers play instruments or sing for live audiences and in recording studios.

Producers and Directors

Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, and other performing arts productions. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.



*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Used by permission.

Explore more careers: View all Careers or Browse Careers by Category

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Home Career Profiles and Employment Projections Actors: Career, Salary and Education Information
Actors
Career, Salary and Education Information
Go to: What They Do | Work Environment | How to Become One | Pay | Job Outlook | Related Careers
What They Do[About this section] [To Top]
Actors express ideas and portray characters in theater, film, television, and other performing arts media. They also work at theme parks or other live events. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.

Duties
Actors typically do the following:

Read scripts and meet with agents and other professionals before accepting a role
Audition in front of directors and producers
Research their character’s personal traits and circumstances to portray them more authentically to an audience
Memorize their lines
Rehearse their lines and performance, including movement on stage or in front of the camera, with other actors
Discuss their role with the director and other actors to improve the overall performance of the show
Perform the role, following the director’s directions
Most actors struggle to find steady work, and few achieve recognition as stars. Some work as “extras”—actors who appear on screen with no lines to deliver. Some do voiceover or narration work for animated features, audiobooks, or other electronic media.

In some stage or film productions, actors sing, dance, or play a musical instrument. For some roles, an actor must learn a new skill, such as horseback riding or stage fighting.

Most actors have long periods of unemployment between roles and often hold other jobs to make a living. Some actors teach acting classes as a second job.

Work Environment[About this section] [To Top]
Actors held about 79,800 jobs in 2012. Most work under pressure and are often under the stress of having to find their next job. Work assignments are usually short, ranging from 1 day to a few months, and actors often hold another job to make a living.

While working on location for a movie or television show and sometimes in a studio, actors may perform in unpleasant conditions, such as in bad weather or while wearing an uncomfortable costume.

Work Schedules
Work hours for actors are long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. Few actors work full time, and many have variable schedules. Those who work in theater may travel with a touring show across the country. Film and television actors may also travel to work on location.

How to Become One[About this section] [To Top]
Many actors enhance their skills through formal dramatic education, and long-term training is common.

Education
Get the education you need: Find schools for Actors near you!

Many actors enhance their skills through formal dramatic education. Many who specialize in theater have bachelor’s degrees, although a degree is not required.

Although some people succeed in acting without getting a formal education, most actors acquire some formal preparation through an acting conservatory or a university drama or theater arts program. Students can take college classes in drama or filmmaking to prepare for a career as an actor. Classes in dance or music may help as well.

Actors who do not have a college degree may take acting or film classes to learn their craft. Community colleges, acting conservatories, and private film schools typically offer these classes. Many theater companies also have education programs. A bachelor’s degree in theater is becoming more common among stage actors.

Important Qualities
Creativity. Actors interpret their characters’ feelings and motives in order to portray the characters in the most compelling way.

Memorization skills. Actors memorize many lines before filming begins or a show opens. Television actors often appear on camera with little time to memorize scripts, and scripts frequently may be revised or written moments before filming.

Persistence. Actors may audition for many roles before getting a job. They must be able to accept rejection and keep going.

Physical stamina. Actors should be in good enough physical condition to endure heat from stage or studio lights and the weight of heavy costumes. They may work long hours, including acting in more than one performance a day, and they must do so without getting overly tired.

Reading skills. When looking for a new role, actors read many scripts and must be able to interpret how a writer has described their character.

Speaking skills. Actors—particularly stage actors—must be able to say their lines clearly, project their voice, and pronounce words so that audiences understand them.

In addition to these qualities, actors usually must be physically coordinated to perform predetermined, sometimes complex movements with other actors to complete a scene.

Training
It takes many years of practice to develop the skills needed to be successful as an actor, and actors never truly finish training. They work to improve their acting skills throughout their career. Many actors continue to train through workshops or mentoring by a drama coach.

Every role is different, and an actor may need to learn something new for each one. For example, a role may require learning how to sing or dance, or an actor may have to learn to speak with an accent or to play a musical instrument or sport.

Many aspiring actors participate in high school, college, and local community plays. In television and film, actors usually start out in smaller roles or independent movies and work their way up to bigger productions.

Advancement
As an actor’s reputation grows, he or she may work on bigger projects or in more prestigious venues. Some actors become producers and directors.

Pay [About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]
The median hourly wage for actors was $20.26 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.92, and the top 10 percent earned more than $90.00 in May 2012.

Work hours for actors are long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. Few actors work full time, and many have variable schedules. Those who work in theater may travel with a touring show across the country. Actors in movies may also travel to work on location.

Union Membership
Compared with workers in all occupations, actors had a higher percentage of workers who belonged to a union in 2012. Many film and television actors join Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), whereas many stage actors join the Actors’ Equity Association. Union membership can help actors receive bigger parts for more money, although dues can be expensive for actors who are beginning their careers.

While these unions generally determine minimum salaries, any actor or director may negotiate for a salary higher than the minimum. Some well-known actors—stars—earn well above the minimum; their salaries are many times the figures cited, creating the false impression that all actors are highly paid. For example, of the more than 160,000 SAG-AFTRA members, only about 50 might be considered stars. The average income that SAG-AFTRA members earn from acting—less than $5,000 a year—is low because employment is sporadic. Therefore, most actors must supplement their incomes by holding jobs in other occupations.

Job Outlook[About this section] [To Top]
Employment of actors is projected to grow 4 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Job growth in the motion picture industry will stem from continued strong demand for new movies and television shows. However, employment is not expected to keep pace with that demand.

Production companies are experimenting with new content delivery methods, such as video on demand and online television, which may lead to more work for actors in the future. However, these delivery methods are still in their early stages, and it remains to be seen how successful they will be.

Actors who work in performing arts companies are expected to see slower job growth than those in film. Many small and medium-size theaters have difficulty getting funding. As a result, the number of performances is expected to decline. Large theaters, with their more stable sources of funding, should provide more opportunities.

Job Prospects
Actors face intense competition for jobs. Most roles, no matter how minor, have many actors auditioning for them. For stage roles, actors with a bachelor’s degree in theater may have a better chance than those without one.

Employment projections data for Actors, 2012-22
Occupational Title Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22
Percent Numeric
SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Actors

79,800 83,000 4 3,300
Related Careers[About this section] [To Top]
Announcers

Announcers present music, news, and sports and may provide commentary or interview guests about these topics or other important events. Some act as masters of ceremonies (emcees) or disc jockeys (DJs) at weddings, parties, or clubs.

Dancers and Choreographers

Dancers and choreographers express ideas and stories, using dance. There are many types of dance such as ballet, tango, modern dance, tap, and jazz.

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate images that entertain or inform an audience.

Multimedia Artists and Animators

Multimedia artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media.

Musicians and Singers

Musicians and singers play instruments or sing for live audiences and in recording studios.

Producers and Directors

Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, and other performing arts productions. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.



*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Used by permission.

Explore more careers: View all Careers or Browse Careers by Category
Find Jobs
Home Career Profiles and Employment Projections Actors: Career, Salary and Education Information
Actors
Career, Salary and Education Information
Go to: What They Do | Work Environment | How to Become One | Pay | Job Outlook | Related Careers
What They Do[About this section] [To Top]
Actors express ideas and portray characters in theater, film, television, and other performing arts media. They also work at theme parks or other live events. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.

Duties
Actors typically do the following:

Read scripts and meet with agents and other professionals before accepting a role
Audition in front of directors and producers
Research their character’s personal traits and circumstances to portray them more authentically to an audience
Memorize their lines
Rehearse their lines and performance, including movement on stage or in front of the camera, with other actors
Discuss their role with the director and other actors to improve the overall performance of the show
Perform the role, following the director’s directions
Most actors struggle to find steady work, and few achieve recognition as stars. Some work as “extras”—actors who appear on screen with no lines to deliver. Some do voiceover or narration work for animated features, audiobooks, or other electronic media.

In some stage or film productions, actors sing, dance, or play a musical instrument. For some roles, an actor must learn a new skill, such as horseback riding or stage fighting.

Most actors have long periods of unemployment between roles and often hold other jobs to make a living. Some actors teach acting classes as a second job.

Work Environment[About this section] [To Top]
Actors held about 79,800 jobs in 2012. Most work under pressure and are often under the stress of having to find their next job. Work assignments are usually short, ranging from 1 day to a few months, and actors often hold another job to make a living.

While working on location for a movie or television show and sometimes in a studio, actors may perform in unpleasant conditions, such as in bad weather or while wearing an uncomfortable costume.

Work Schedules
Work hours for actors are long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. Few actors work full time, and many have variable schedules. Those who work in theater may travel with a touring show across the country. Film and television actors may also travel to work on location.

How to Become One[About this section] [To Top]
Many actors enhance their skills through formal dramatic education, and long-term training is common.

Education
Get the education you need: Find schools for Actors near you!

Many actors enhance their skills through formal dramatic education. Many who specialize in theater have bachelor’s degrees, although a degree is not required.

Although some people succeed in acting without getting a formal education, most actors acquire some formal preparation through an acting conservatory or a university drama or theater arts program. Students can take college classes in drama or filmmaking to prepare for a career as an actor. Classes in dance or music may help as well.

Actors who do not have a college degree may take acting or film classes to learn their craft. Community colleges, acting conservatories, and private film schools typically offer these classes. Many theater companies also have education programs. A bachelor’s degree in theater is becoming more common among stage actors.

Important Qualities
Creativity. Actors interpret their characters’ feelings and motives in order to portray the characters in the most compelling way.

Memorization skills. Actors memorize many lines before filming begins or a show opens. Television actors often appear on camera with little time to memorize scripts, and scripts frequently may be revised or written moments before filming.

Persistence. Actors may audition for many roles before getting a job. They must be able to accept rejection and keep going.

Physical stamina. Actors should be in good enough physical condition to endure heat from stage or studio lights and the weight of heavy costumes. They may work