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Actors
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Description: what do they do?
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.
Also known as:
Actor, Actress, Comedian, Comic, Community Theater Actor, Ensemble Member, Narrator, Performer, Tour Actor, Voice-Over Artist

    What does this information tell me?

    This description is a quick overview of what workers in this career might do.

    "Also known as" shows other common names for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from an O*NET database. Learn more on the Help page.

Career video
    Transcript: Actors are entertainers. They bring a writer's words to life by portraying characters on stage, screen and radio. Though the career can be glamorous, the road to success is often long and difficult. Most actors have to compete for parts through auditions. They need to be able to handle criticism and rejection. Once hired, actors spend hours memorizing lines and rehearsing. The workdays can be very long, especially on film shoots. In addition to reciting lines, actors need to be able to impersonate a real or fictional character, often right down to particular mannerisms…even regional accents. Stage productions usually require work in the evenings, on weekends and holidays. Besides roles in movies, TV programs, and on stage, actors are employed in commercials, theme parks, and even teaching. Some roles call for singing and dancing. No formal education is required, although training at a university or dramatic arts school can refine important skills such as diction and movement. Actors can get performing experience in school or community productions, as well as in summer stock shows. Many actors struggle for years to make a living. Often they need to find other part-time work to supplement their acting income. It can be helpful to have an agent. Working on commission, talent agents promote their clients to directors and producers and may have an edge in getting an actor auditions. Although few actors ever achieve stardom, this can certainly be an exciting and financially rewarding career …what Shakespeare called the "passion to play."
View transcript
Outlook: will there be jobs?
Image. Employment outlook for this occupation
New job opportunities are likely in the future.


    What does this information tell me?

    Outlook information can tell you whether a career is expected to be in demand in the future—that is, whether there are likely to be job openings if you choose this career. Please note that this does not account for the impacts of the current pandemic. Many occupations are likely to have very different outlooks due to the rapidly changing economy. When new outlook information is developed, it will be reflected here.

    Careers can have one of three outlooks:

    • A Bright outlook means new job opportunities are very likely in the future
    • An Average outlook means that a small number of new job opportunities are likely in the future (less than an 8 percent increase)
    • A Below Average outlook means new job opportunities are less likely in the future

    You can also view local job listings in this field by clicking "Find job openings". This can help you see if local businesses are hiring—another way of looking at demand.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET Bright Outlook occupations and My Next Move career outlook designations. Note this information is only available at a national level, so even if you selected a state, you’ll see this information for the whole country.

Projected employment
N/A
2018 Employment
N/A
2028 Employment
N/A
Percent change
N/A
Annual projected job openings
United States
70,100
2019 Employment
72,200
2029 Employment
3%
Percent change
7,100
Annual projected job openings
N/A: We do not have employment projections in this state for this occupation.

    What does this information tell me?

    Projected employment shows how much employment is expected to grow in this occupation over a 10-year period. This can help you decide if this career is a good choice for future job opportunities. You can look at projected employment in your state, or in other states where you might consider living.

    You can see the total number of people employed in this occupation in 2018 (for states) or 2019 (for the United States), the number expected to be employed in 2028 (for states) or 2029 (for the United States), and rate of growth over those years.

    The projections are based on assumptions of unemployment rates and labor productivity growth rates.  While the projected numbers may not be exact, they are helpful to compare one career to another, or one location to another.

    Please note that these projections do not account for the impacts of the current pandemic. Many occupations are likely to have very different projections due to the rapidly changing economy. When revised data are available, they will be published here.

    What is the source of this information?

    State-level data come from Projections Central and each state's Labor Market Information office, 2018-28.

    National-level data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, 2019-29.

Typical wages

There is no annual wage data available for this occupation
There is no annual wage data for the location you entered (). Please enter a different location or widen your search.
There is no annual wage data for the location you entered (). Please enter a different location or widen your search.


    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you a range of how much most workers in this occupation earn per hour, in the location that you selected.

    You can select from three views of this data:

    • The Graph shows you wages at the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles. Note that the lowest (10th %ile) wage shown is not necessarily a "starting wage." Instead it means that 10 percent of all workers in this career earn less that this amount, and 90 percent earn more. However, you can assume that you might earn close to the 10th or 25th %ile wages when you start out in most careers.
    • Select "Chart" to see a visual comparison between national wages and wages in the location you selected.
    • Select "Table" to see more wage data the national and local level.

    Please note that wage data are not available at the city or ZIP code level. If you selected a city or ZIP code, you will see wage data for the regional area.

    You can learn more about wages for this and other occupations by clicking “See more wages” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    The wage information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics Program, May 2020 survey. For more detailed state wage data, please find the link to your state's wage data program in the Other Resources box.

Education and experience: to get started
People starting in this career usually have:
  • Some college, no degree
  • No work experience
  • More than 1 year on-the-job training

Programs that can prepare you:

    What does this information tell me?

    This shows you the typical level of education, work experience, and on-the-job training that most people have when they start in this career. Note that these are not requirements for entering this field, but the information can help you understand how qualified you might be.

    Interested in starting in this career? You can search for education programs in your local area by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, Education and training assignments by detailed occupation, 2019.

Typical education
How much education do most people in this career have?
Chart. Percent of workers in this field by education level attained

    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you the range of education levels that people who currently work in this field have. You can use this to see if you fit in this range. Note that this includes ALL people who work in this field and not just those getting started.

    Interested in getting qualified for this career? You can search for programs that lead to the education needed, in your local area, by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, Educational attainment for workers 25 years and older by detailed occupation, 2018.

Certifications: show your skills
Let employers know you have the skills to do well at this job.
Earning a certification can help you:
  • Get a job
  • Get a promotion

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find certifications" you'll see a list of national certifications that are related to this career. From there, you can learn how to achieve one of these certifications to help you enter or get ahead in this field.

    What is the source of this information?

    This collection of occupational certifications is collected and regularly updated by CareerOneStop. Learn more at Certification Finder Help.

Licenses: do you need one?
Some states require an occupational license to work in this career.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find license details in your state" you'll see the license name and contact information for the agency in your state that oversees licensing for this field. If you have not selected a location, you'll see a list of all state licenses for this occupation.

    What is the source of this information?

    Information on licensed occupations is gathered in each state by Labor Market Information units under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Learn more at License Finder Help.

Apprenticeships: learn on the job
Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job-training with classroom lessons.

Activities: what you might do in a day
  • Collaborate with others to prepare or perform artistic productions.
  • Entertain public with comedic or dramatic performances.
  • Practice athletic or artistic skills.
  • Study scripts to determine project requirements.
  • Audition for roles.
  • Perform music for the public.
  • Collaborate with others to determine technical details of productions.
  • Promote products, activities, or organizations.
  • Write material for artistic or entertainment purposes.
  • Inform viewers, listeners, or audiences.
  • Construct distinctive physical objects for artistic, functional, or commercial purposes.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical work activities that people in this career might do on the job. You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More activities” to see more detailed examples of activities for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these activities to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET’s Detailed Work Activities.

Knowledge
People in this career often know a lot about:
  • Fine Arts - Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • 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.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of general knowledge areas that are most commonly required for jobs in the career. Knowledge is typically gained through education and related experience.

    This list can help you learn if you are prepared for a job in this career. It can also help you decide on education or training programs that could help you prepare for the career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Knowledge descriptors.

Skills
People in this career often have these skills:
  • Reading Comprehension - Reading work-related information.
  • Speaking - Talking to others.
  • Active Listening - Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Understanding people's reactions.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list the work-related skills most commonly required for jobs in the career.

    This list can help you understand how well your current skills fit this career. It can also help you plan your education or professional development.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Skills descriptors.

Abilities
People in this career often have talent in:
  • Oral Expression - Communicating by speaking.
  • Oral Comprehension - Listening and understanding what people say.
  • Speech Clarity - Speaking clearly.
  • Memorization - Remembering words, numbers, pictures, or steps.
  • Written Comprehension - Reading and understanding what is written.
  • Originality - Creating new and original ideas.
  • Near Vision - Seeing details up close.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list of personal qualities that might influence work and are most commonly required for success in this career.

    This list can help you understand if your natural strengths and abilities are a good fit for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Abilities descriptors.

Interests
  • Enterprising - Occupations with Enterprising interests frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. Many involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
  • Artistic - Occupations with Artistic interests frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and allow for developing unique approaches to conducting the work.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of work environment-preferences that are most commonly associated with the career. It can help you understand if your natural interests are a good fit for this career.

    Click "Take an interest assessment" for a quick 30-question assessment that can help you understand your interests and see careers that might be good matches for them.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Interest descriptors.

Typical 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.
  • Work with other crew members responsible for lighting, costumes, make-up, and props.
  • Tell jokes, perform comic dances, songs and skits, impersonate mannerisms and voices of others, contort face, and use other devices to amuse audiences.
  • 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.
  • Write original or adapted material for dramas, comedies, puppet shows, narration, or other performances.
  • Introduce performances and performers to stimulate excitement and coordinate smooth transition of acts during events.
  • Dress in comical clown costumes and makeup, and perform comedy routines to entertain audiences.
  • Construct puppets and ventriloquist dummies, and sew accessory clothing, using hand tools and machines.
  • Perform original and stock tricks of illusion to entertain and mystify audiences, occasionally including audience members as participants.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical tasks that people in this career might do on the job.  You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More tasks” to see more detailed examples for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these tasks to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET‘s Tasks.

Other resources
  • Actors, Occupational Outlook Handbook

    What does this information tell me?

    These are additional online resources related to this career. You may find different or more detailed information at these sources.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information is collected and maintained by CareerOneStop.