What Does An Actor Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

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Actors

Actors play parts in stage, television, radio, video, or film productions, or other settings for entertainment, information, or instruction. Interpret serious or comic role by speech, gesture, and body movement to entertain or inform audience. May dance and sing.

Becoming One
Easy
Education
No degree required
Job Satisfaction
Job Growth

Personality
Interest Match





Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.Confucius

What they do

Actors play parts in stage, television, radio, video, or film productions, or other settings for entertainment, information, or instruction. Interpret serious or comic role by speech, gesture, and body movement to entertain or inform audience. May dance and sing.

  • 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.

Typical day

On a daily basis, Actors collaborate with other actors as part of an ensemble. They portray and interpret roles, using speech, gestures, and body movements, to entertain, inform, or instruct radio, film, television, or live audiences.

A typical day for an Actor will also include:

  • Sing or dance during dramatic or comedic performances.
  • Perform humorous and serious interpretations of emotions, actions, and situations, using body movements, facial expressions, and gestures.
  • Work with other crew members responsible for lighting, costumes, make-up, and props.
  • Work closely with directors, other actors, and playwrights to find the interpretation most suited to the role.
  • Study and rehearse roles from scripts to interpret, learn and memorize lines, stunts, and cues as directed.

Other responsibilities

Besides their typical day, Actors also promote productions using means such as interviews about plays or movies. They may also learn about characters in scripts and their relationships with each other to develop role interpretations.

On a weekly to monthly basis, Actors perform humorous and serious interpretations of emotions, actions, and situations, using body movements, facial expressions, and gestures. They might also tell jokes, perform comic dances, songs, and skits, impersonate mannerisms and voices of others, contort faces, and use other devices to amuse audiences.

In addition, they work with other crew members responsible for lighting, costumes, make-up, and props.

Although specific duties may vary, many of them attend auditions and casting calls to audition for roles.

To some Actors, it is also their responsibility to study and rehearse roles from scripts to interpret, learn and memorize lines, stunts, and cues as directed.

Freedom to make decisions

How much decision making freedom does this job offer?

No freedom
0%

Very little freedom
0%

Limited freedom
67%

Some freedom
21%

A lot of freedom
12%

Structured vs unstructured work

To what extent is this job structured for you versus allowing you to determine your own tasks, priorities, and goals?

No freedom
14%

Very little freedom
22%

Limited freedom
35%

Some freedom
19%

A lot of freedom
10%


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What is the job like

Job satisfaction

Very High

Is this job meaningful

High

76% said they were satisfied with their job and 67% said they found their job meaningful.


It’s definitely not a ‘normal’ existence when compared to most jobs and lifestyles. Full-time actors are essentially, consistently unemployed. So when not on a film or tv set, it’s all about preparation and readiness. For me, it’s important to keep a mindset of knowing my next job will be around the corner (similar to a … Read More


My name is Ria Patel, I am an Australian Indian Actress and Dancer, based in Los Angeles. Depending on what the call time is, let’s say 9 am, I will be on set before 9 am. They say if you’re early, you’re on time, if you’re on time, you’re late and if you’re late then … Read More


The acting bug first bit when I was cast as Rebecca Nurse in my high school’s production of The Crucible. Every acting job is different. Some cast only union members. Other calls are open. Sometimes, even though there are onset wardrobe options and stage makeup artists, we may be instructed to bring as many as … Read More


Being an actor offers me the freedom to portray characters in roles that live in ways and do things I would normally not be able to in my own life. The freedom of expression, the ability to collaborate to create art and the opportunity to meet some of the most interesting people in the world … Read More


Pros

Suitable for people who like to work with designs.

Suitable for people who value relationships between co-workers and customers and want to work in a friendly non-competitive environment.

This career is perfect for people who love to work indoors.

It is easy to get into this career. Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for this career.

Short working hours (Less than 40 hours per week).

Cons

Not suitable for people who like to solve problems mentally.

How much do they make

Average salary

$ per year

Average hourly wage

$31 per hour

Entry-level Actors with little to no experience can expect to make anywhere between $* to $* per year or $11 to $14 per hour.

Salary by experience Annual Hourly
Highest (Top 10%) $* $65
Senior (Top 25%) $* $30
Median $* $22
Junior (Bottom 25%) $* $14
No experience (Bottom 10%) $* $11

This table shows the top 10 highest paying industries for Actors based on their average annual salary.

Salary by industry Annual Hourly
Scientific Research and Development Services $ $22.09
Museums, Historical Sites, and Similar Institutions $ $14.37
Other Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services $ $16.89
Amusement Parks and Arcades $ $17.53
Employment Services $ $29.91
Other Amusement and Recreation Industries $ $12.93
Travel Arrangement and Reservation Services $ $*
Traveler Accommodation $ $16.54
Elementary and Secondary Schools $ $17.36
Junior Colleges $ $17.13

View more salary by industries here.

Where can they work

Where can Actors work? Here is a table showing the top 10 largest employers of Actors including the average salary in that industry.

Employers Total Employed Annual Salary Hourly Wages
Motion Picture and Video Industries 25480 $ $32.99
Performing Arts Companies 5730 $ $29.36
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools 2700 $ $26.35
Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers 2690 $ $36.21
Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping, and Payroll Services 2150 $ $39.57
Promoters of Performing Arts, Sports, and Similar Events 340 $ $26.73
Radio and Television Broadcasting 180 $ $*
Scientific Research and Development Services 170 $ $22.09
Other Schools and Instruction 130 $ $28.78
Sound Recording Industries 80 $ $*

What is the work day like

Working hours

Less than 40 hours
84%

40 hours
13%

More than 40 hours
3%

Working schedule

5%

79%

15%

Work with group or team

How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?

Not important at all
0%

Fairly important
0%

Important
0%

Very important
0%

Extremely important
100%

Deal with external customers

How important is it to work with customers in this job?

Not important at all
0%

Fairly important
23%

Important
17%

Very important
32%

Extremely important
28%

Manage or lead others

How important is it to coordinate or lead others in completing work activities in this job?

Not important at all
4%

Fairly important
34%

Important
25%

Very important
18%

Extremely important
19%

Email

How often do you use email in this job?

Once a week
19%

Every day
77%

Telephone

How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?

Once a week
56%

Every day
8%

Group discussions

How often do you have group discussions in this job?

Once a week
3%

Every day
68%

Public speaking

How often does this job require you to do public speaking?

Never
0%

Once a year
0%

Once a month
21%

Once a week
4%

Every day
75%

Frequency of conflict situations

How often are there conflict situations in this job?

Never
18%

Once a year
39%

Once a month
3%

Once a week
38%

Every day
3%

Dealing with angry people

How often do you have to deal with angry, unpleasant, or discourteous individuals in this job?

Never
36%

Once a year
17%

Once a month
7%

Once a week
26%

Every day
14%

Dealing with physically aggressive people

How often do you have to deal with physically aggressive people in this job?

Never
82%

Once a year
3%

Once a month
1%

Once a week
14%

Every day
0%

Level of competition

How much competitive pressure is in this job?

Not competitive at all
0%

Slightly competitive
2%

Moderately competitive
1%

Highly competitive
68%

Extremely competitive
29%

Repetition in this job

How important is repeating the same type of task over and over in this job?

Not important at all
24%

Fairly important
32%

Important
5%

Very Important
39%

Extremely Important
0%

Impact of decisions on co-workers or company results

What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the reputation or financial resources of your employer?

No impact
1%

Minor impact
1%

Moderate impact
79%

Important impact
5%

Very important impact
13%

Frequency of decision making

How frequently do you have to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the reputation of the company?

Never
4%

Once a year
1%

Once a month
51%

Once a week
18%

Every day
26%

Responsibility for others’ health and safety

How much responsibility is there for the health and safety of others in this job?

No responsibility
1%

Limited responsibility
54%

Moderate responsibility
19%

High responsibility
1%

Very high responsibility
24%

Responsibility for outcomes and results

How much responsibility is there for the work outcomes and results of other workers?

No responsibility
17%

Limited responsibility
21%

Moderate responsibility
21%

High responsibility
31%

Very high responsibility
11%

What is the work environment like

Office-style environment

Indoors in an environmentally controlled condition

Never
0%

Once a year or more
3%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
36%

Every day
61%

Warehouse-style environment

Indoors in a non-controlled environmental condition such as a warehouse

Never
46%

Once a year or more
35%

Once a month or more
1%

Once a week or more
18%

Every day
0%

Outdoors

Outdoors exposed to all weather conditions

Never
58%

Once a year or more
14%

Once a month or more
21%

Once a week or more
7%

Every day
0%

Outdoors – Under Cover

Outdoors but under cover (e.g. structure with roof but no walls)

Never
63%

Once a year or more
14%

Once a month or more
19%

Once a week or more
4%

Every day
0%

How to become one

Difficulty to become one

Easy
You may need some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience. Most careers in this difficulty category usually don’t require a degree. However, you will need a few months of on-the-job training with experienced employees. Similar careers include Customer Service Representatives, Security Guards, and Bank Tellers.

Required level of education

What level of education do you need to perform the job?

Less than a High School Diploma
45%

High School Diploma or equivalent
16%

Post-Secondary Certificate
4%

Some College Courses
0%

Associate’s Degree or similar
0%

Bachelor’s Degree
21%

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate
0%

Master’s Degree
0%

Post-Master’s Certificate
0%

First Professional Degree
14%

Doctoral Degree
0%

Post-Doctoral Training
0%

Relevant work experience

How much related work experience do you need to get hired for the job?

None
54%

1 month
0%

1 to 3 months
0%

3 to 6 months
0%

6 months to 1 year
8%

1 to 2 years
6%

2 to 4 years
31%

4 to 6 years
0%

6 to 8 years
0%

8 to 10 years
1%

Over 10 years
0%

On The Job Training

How much on the job training do you need to perform the job?

None or short demonstration
8%

1 month
14%

1 to 3 months
48%

3 to 6 months
0%

6 months to 1 year
14%

1 to 2 years
2%

2 to 4 years
14%

4 to 10 years
0%

Over 10 years
0%

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Artist

People with this personality likes to work with designs and patterns. They prefer activities that require self-expression and prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.

The Builder
38%

People with The Builder personality type likes practical and hands-on work. They prefer working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.


The Thinker
19%

People with The Thinker personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.


The Artist
95%

People with The Artist personality likes to work with designs and patterns. They prefer activities that require self-expression and prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.


The Helper
43%

People with The Helper personality type likes to work with people and in teams. They prefer work that allows them to build relationships with others.


The Leader
67%

People with The Leader personality likes to start and work on projects. They also like leading people and making many decisions.


The Organizer
24%

People with The Organizer personality type likes to follow set procedures and routines. They prefer working with data and details more than with ideas.


You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tend to like working with forms, designs, and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

They also like starting up and carrying out projects. They like leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk-taking and often deal with business.

Take this quiz to see if this is the right career for you.

Work Values

Which values are the most important to a person’s satisfaction for this job?

Achievement
81%

You are someone who is results oriented. You prefer work that allows you to utilize your skills and abilities while at the same time giving you a sense of accomplishment.

Working Conditions
60%

You are someone who values job security, steady employment, and good working conditions. You also prefer work that keeps you busy all the time with something different to do every day.

Recognition
67%

You are someone who values job advancement and leadership roles. You prefer work that receives recognition for the work you do and jobs that are looked up to by others in the company and your community.

Relationships
86%

You are someone who likes to provide a service to others. You prefer a work environment where you can work with your co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Support
29%

You are someone who values a company that stands behind their employees. You prefer a work environment where everyone is treated fairly and is being supported by the company.

Independence
67%

You are someone who likes to work on your own and make your own decisions. You prefer work that requires little supervision and are allowed to try out your own ideas.

FAQ


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