Actor: what they do, how to become one, and where to study

Author: ProfGuide
Actor: what they do, how to become one, and where to study

Lights, camera, action! The world of acting is a captivating and exhilarating profession that has the power to transport audiences into different realms and touch their emotions. The life of an actor is filled with creativity, dedication, and the pursuit of bringing stories to life on stage or screen. In this article, we'll delve into the fascinating world of acting, exploring its specializations, tasks and responsibilities, pros and cons, demand in various countries, salary ranges, work environments, important qualities of a successful actor, the step-by-step career path, how to become an actor, and where to pursue this profession in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia. By the way, recently the ProfGuide career guidance center has developed a precise career orientation test, which will tell you which professions are suitable for you, provide a conclusion about your personality type and intelligence.



Acting is a diverse field with various specializations that allow performers to showcase their talents in different mediums. Some actors specialize in stage acting, honing their craft in live theater productions, while others thrive in front of the camera, acting in films, television shows, or commercials. Additionally, actors may choose to specialize in voice acting, lending their voices to animated characters in movies, TV series, video games, or audiobooks. Each specialization requires unique skills and techniques, but all share the common goal of captivating audiences through convincing performances.

Tasks and Responsibilities

As an actor, your tasks and responsibilities will vary depending on the project and medium. Here are some common tasks and responsibilities you may encounter:

  1. Memorizing lines and scripts to accurately portray a character's dialogue.
  2. Studying and analyzing scripts to understand character motivations and objectives.
  3. Rehearsing scenes to develop chemistry with other actors and perfect performances.
  4. Collaborating with directors and other members of the production team to bring the script to life.
  5. Incorporating feedback and direction from directors to enhance performances.
  6. Expressing emotions, gestures, and body language to convey the character's personality.
  7. Adapting performances to different mediums, such as adjusting for the stage or camera.
  8. Continuously developing acting skills through workshops, classes, and practice.

Pros and Cons

Like any profession, acting has its share of advantages and challenges. Here are some pros and cons to consider:


  1. Creative fulfillment: Acting allows you to express your creativity and immerse yourself in diverse characters and stories.
  2. Impactful storytelling: Actors have the power to move and inspire audiences, evoking emotions and sparking conversations.
  3. Variety of roles: The acting profession offers the opportunity to portray a wide range of characters, from heroes to villains, and explore different genres and time periods.
  4. Networking opportunities: Working on sets or in theaters exposes actors to industry professionals, opening doors for future collaborations and career advancement.
  5. Global reach: Acting provides a platform to reach a wide audience, making a name for yourself and potentially gaining recognition worldwide.


  1. Competitive industry: The acting world is highly competitive, with numerous talented individuals vying for limited roles and opportunities.
  2. Uncertainty and instability: Acting can be unpredictable, with periods of unemployment and financial instability between projects.
  3. Rejection and criticism: Actors must develop resilience to handle rejection during auditions and navigate feedback, both positive and negative, to improve their craft.
  4. Irregular working hours: Actors often work long and irregular hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays, to accommodate production schedules.
  5. Emotional demands: Immersing oneself in intense and emotionally challenging roles can take a toll on an actor's mental and emotional well-being.


The demand for actors varies across countries. Here's a glimpse into the demand for actors in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia:

  • United States: The U.S. entertainment industry, centered in Hollywood, creates a high demand for actors, with opportunities in film, television, theater, and other forms of media. Major cities like Los Angeles and New York City offer a plethora of casting opportunities and production companies.
  • Canada: Canada has a thriving film and television industry, particularly in cities like Toronto and Vancouver. The country's generous tax incentives and diverse shooting locations make it an attractive destination for film and TV productions, leading to increased demand for actors.
  • United Kingdom: The United Kingdom boasts a rich theatrical tradition and a vibrant film and television industry. London's West End is renowned for its stage productions, while cities like Manchester and Glasgow also offer acting opportunities. Additionally, the UK is a popular location for international film and TV productions, further contributing to the demand for actors.
  • Australia: Australia has a thriving entertainment industry, with Sydney and Melbourne being the main hubs for acting opportunities. The country has gained international recognition for its film and TV productions, making it a sought-after destination for actors.

Salary Ranges

Actors' salaries can vary greatly depending on their experience, reputation, and the nature of the project. Here are some approximate salary ranges for actors in the mentioned countries:

  • United States: The salary range for actors in the U.S. varies significantly. Entry-level or lesser-known actors may earn around $20,000 to $40,000 per year, while established actors can command higher salaries ranging from $100,000 to several million dollars per project.
  • Canada: In Canada, the salaries for actors can range from approximately $20,000 to $100,000 per year. However, top-tier actors working on major productions may earn significantly more.
  • United Kingdom: Actors in the UK can expect salaries ranging from around £15,000 to £50,000 per year for entry-level or less prominent roles. Established actors working in film, television, or the theater may earn significantly higher salaries.
  • Australia: The salary range for actors in Australia can vary widely. Less experienced actors may earn around AUD 30,000 to AUD 80,000 per year, while successful and well-established actors can earn several hundred thousand dollars per project.

Where do Actors Work?

Actors work in a variety of settings, including:

  1. Film and Television Sets: Actors can be seen working on movie sets, television studios, or even outdoor locations, bringing characters to life for the camera.
  2. Theaters: Stage actors perform in theaters, both large and small, engaging live audiences with their theatrical prowess.
  3. Voice Recording Studios: Voice actors lend their voices to animated characters, video games, commercials, and audiobooks in dedicated recording studios.
  4. Rehearsal Spaces: Actors spend time rehearsing scenes, practicing lines, and refining their performances in rehearsal spaces and acting studios.
  5. Audition Rooms: Actors attend auditions, showcasing their talent and versatility in front of casting directors and production teams.

Acting is a profession that is needed to entertain, educate, and inspire audiences. Through their performances, actors play a crucial role in storytelling, helping to bring characters and narratives to life. Their ability to embody different personas and evoke emotions allows audiences to connect with the stories being told, fostering empathy and understanding.

Important Qualities of a Successful Actor

To excel as an actor, certain qualities are essential. Here are some important qualities:

  1. Versatility: A successful actor should be able to portray a wide range of characters convincingly, adapting their performances to suit different genres, styles, and mediums.
  2. Emotional Intelligence: Understanding and effectively conveying the emotions and motivations of a character is crucial for creating compelling performances.
  3. Creativity: Actors often need to think outside the box, finding unique interpretations and approaches to bring their characters to life.
  4. Dedication and Resilience: The acting profession requires perseverance and resilience to handle the challenges and rejections that come with auditions and the competitive nature of the industry.
  5. Adaptability: Actors must be adaptable to work in different environments, collaborate with diverse teams, and adjust their performances based on the requirements of the project.
  6. Continuous Learning: Successful actors understand the importance of ongoing training and development. They seek opportunities to enhance their skills, whether through acting classes, workshops, or studying the works of other actors.
  7. Strong Work Ethic: Acting requires discipline and hard work. Actors must be dedicated to honing their craft, putting in the time and effort required for rehearsals, performances, and self-improvement.

Who is Suitable and Who is Not Suitable for this Profession?

Acting is a profession that appeals to individuals with a passion for performance and storytelling. It may be suitable for those who:

  • Enjoy being in the spotlight and crave creative expression.
  • Thrive on challenges and are willing to take risks.
  • Have a natural talent for acting, including the ability to empathize with others and understand human emotions.
  • Are resilient and can handle the unpredictable nature of the industry.

On the other hand, acting may not be suitable for individuals who:

  • Are uncomfortable with public speaking or being in front of an audience.
  • Struggle with handling rejection and criticism.
  • Are unwilling to put in the time and effort required for continuous learning and development.
  • Prefer stable and predictable career paths.

Step-by-Step Career Path

The path to becoming a successful actor may vary for individuals, but here is a general step-by-step outline:

  1. Gain Experience: Begin by participating in school or community theater productions, student films, or local acting workshops to gain practical experience and develop skills.
  2. Training and Education: Consider pursuing formal training in acting by enrolling in acting schools, conservatories, or university theater programs. These provide structured education, performance opportunities, and exposure to industry professionals.
  3. Build a Portfolio: As you gain experience, start building your acting portfolio. This includes your headshot, resume, and showreel or demo reel showcasing your acting abilities.
  4. Auditions and Networking: Attend auditions for acting opportunities, both big and small. Network with industry professionals, attend industry events, and join acting associations to expand your connections and increase your chances of landing roles.
  5. Continual Improvement: Keep honing your craft by taking acting classes, attending workshops, and seeking feedback from mentors and industry professionals. This ongoing training helps you refine your skills and stay updated with industry trends.
  6. Representation: Consider seeking representation from a talent agent or manager who can help you navigate the industry, secure auditions, and negotiate contracts on your behalf.
  7. Professional Engagements: Once you start booking acting gigs, whether in theater, film, or television, give your best performances and build a reputation for professionalism and reliability.
  8. Career Growth: With each successful project, aim to diversify your roles and expand your acting repertoire. Continued success will lead to more significant opportunities and the potential for higher-profile projects.

How to Become an Actor

The path to becoming an actor may not necessarily require a specific degree, but formal training and education in acting can greatly enhance your skills and chances of success. In the United States, the duration of study can vary depending on the program and the level of education pursued. Bachelor's degree programs in acting typically span four years, while master's programs may take an additional two to three years to complete. It is important to research and select reputable acting schools or universities that offer comprehensive training in acting techniques, voice, movement, and other relevant disciplines.

While higher education can provide a solid foundation, practical experience and networking are equally essential in the acting industry. Participating in local theater productions, student films, or independent projects can help you gain real-world experience and build your acting portfolio.

In addition to formal education, many aspiring actors also choose to complete residencies or graduate programs focused on acting. These programs provide intensive training, mentorship, and performance opportunities that can further develop your skills and help you establish connections within the industry.

It's important to note that while education and training are valuable, success in the acting profession often relies on a combination of talent, hard work, dedication, and luck. Building a strong professional network, attending auditions, and continuously improving your craft are essential steps to pursue a career as an actor.

Where to Become an Actor (in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia)

When considering where to pursue a career as an actor, there are several cities and regions known for their thriving entertainment industries. Here are five examples for each country:

United States:

  1. Los Angeles, California: Hollywood's center, renowned for film and television production
  2. New York City, New York: A hub for theater, Broadway productions, and independent filmmaking
  3. Atlanta, Georgia: A growing film and television production center with numerous casting opportunities
  4. Chicago, Illinois: Known for its vibrant theater scene and opportunities in film and television
  5. New Orleans, Louisiana: A city that has seen significant growth in film and television production, offering various acting opportunities


  1. Toronto, Ontario: Canada's largest city, known for its film and television industry
  2. Vancouver, British Columbia: A major production center for film, television, and animation
  3. Montreal, Quebec: A city with a thriving film and theater industry, offering bilingual acting opportunities
  4. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Known for its film and television production, particularly in the maritime region
  5. Calgary, Alberta: A city with a growing film industry and opportunities for actors

United Kingdom:

  1. London: The capital city, famous for its West End theater district and film and television production
  2. Manchester: A vibrant city with a thriving theater scene and growing television and film industry
  3. Glasgow: Known for its rich cultural heritage and offering opportunities in theater, film, and television
  4. Cardiff: The capital city of Wales, with a developing film and television industry and a range of acting opportunities
  5. Belfast: The capital city of Northern Ireland, with a burgeoning film and television industry and acting opportunities


  1. Sydney, New South Wales: Australia's largest city, known for its thriving film, television, and theater industries
  2. Melbourne, Victoria: A city with a vibrant arts scene, offering diverse acting opportunities in film, television, and theater
  3. Brisbane, Queensland: A city with a growing film and television industry, providing actors with various opportunities
  4. Adelaide, South Australia: Known for its festivals and theater scene, offering acting opportunities in stage productions
  5. Perth, Western Australia: A city with a developing film and television industry, providing actors with growing opportunities

Can You Enter the Profession with a Different Degree?

While a degree in acting or a related field can provide a solid foundation and enhance your chances of success as an actor, it is not the only path to enter the profession. Many actors have pursued different degrees before transitioning into acting. The skills and experiences gained through other fields of study can be valuable assets in acting. Additionally, actors can receive training through acting workshops, intensive programs, or private coaching.

It's important to note that acting is primarily a performance-based profession, and practical experience, talent, and dedication are crucial factors in building a successful acting career. While a different degree may not directly qualify you as an actor, it does not necessarily exclude you from pursuing a career in acting. Many successful actors have come from various educational backgrounds and have found success through passion, determination, and continuous learning.

In conclusion, the profession of an actor is a thrilling and dynamic journey that requires talent, dedication, and perseverance. It offers the opportunity to bring characters to life, inspire audiences, and contribute to the art of storytelling. By understanding the specializations, responsibilities, demands, and important qualities of actors, individuals can embark on a step-by-step career path that involves training, experience, networking, and continuous growth. Whether in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, or Australia, there are various cities and regions that offer acting opportunities. While a degree in acting can be beneficial, it is not the only path to enter the profession, and individuals from diverse educational backgrounds can pursue a career in acting with passion, commitment, and the willingness to learn and grow.

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