Job type

Actor

£13k - £200k

Typical salary

16 – 47

Hours per week

Actors use speech, movement and expression to bring characters to life in theatre, film, television and radio.

More info

  • Bring characters to life on the stage, screen, or radio
  • Work in a fast-paced competitive profession
  • Work with highly creative people

DAY-TO-DAY DUTIES

  • Research your role
  • Learn lines
  • Rehearse
  • Attend fitting for costumes
  • Prepare for and go to auditions
  • Contact agents
  • Work with other professionals like make-up artists, camera operators and directors
  • For some roles you may work with the director to interpret the script.
  • Use your voice and expression to show emotions, and you may need to decide how the character will look and behave

Working for smaller theatre companies, you may also be involved in administration, publicity and staging the performance. Some actors combine performing with another job, for example, teaching, community arts or office work. If you can show an agent you have potential they may put you forward for auditions and castings.  

DAY-TO-DAY ENVIRONMENT

There is no set income for actors and only the most well-established actors earn a high salary. Most actors are self-employed and are paid a fee for each contract or performance. Equity is the UK trade union for professional performers and it sets minimum rates of pay for its members. These depend on who you're working for and where. Pay rates may differ if you work for an organisation that pays non-Equity rates. Agents usually take a fee of about 10% to 25% from your earnings.

You'll need

You'll usually need to spend time on a training course at a college, university or drama school. You could take a diploma, foundation degree, degree or postgraduate diploma in drama, or a relevant subject like: performing arts, drama, performance studies, contemporary theatre and performance, acting or musical theatre.

The Actors Centre has information and introductory courses on getting into acting and the Federation of Drama Schools can help you find courses. You'll need to pass an audition to get into a drama school. You may also be asked for A levels or a Level 3 Diploma in Performing Arts, though this is not always essential if you can show enough talent and commitment.

With luck, experience and determination you may be able to find work without training. Acting is a very competitive profession. You'll need to get as much practical experience of acting as you can. You can do this through amateur, community or youth theatre, college and university drama societies, and student drama festivals and competitions.

People with disabilities and special learning needs can get extra support from organisations like Shape Arts. Creative Choices has more information about a career in acting.

CAREER PROSPECTS

You could take further training and move into directing, scriptwriting, drama therapy or teaching.