What Are the Skills Needed to Work in Acting?

Do you want to learn how to sing, dance and perform in front of a live audience? Would you like to learn what it takes to convey emotion through your voice or movement? If so, read on to see if you have the skills necessary for a career in the field of acting. Schools offering Acting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of Careers in Acting

The life of an actor is one of constant change. With irregular work schedules and no guarantee of consistent work, actors often travel for shows or films. Actors use their skills to transform into characters for the entertainment of their audience.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Median Pay* (2018) $17.54 per hour
Job Outlook* (2016-2026) 12%
Similar Occupations Announcers, dancers and choreographers, film and video editors, camera operator, musician, singer, director, producer
Work Environment Work hours can be hectic and there is no set work schedule or workplace

Source: *US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Acting Skills

In order to effectively portray a character in a play, film, TV show or other production, you'll need to have a nuanced set of skills to communicate effectively, both to an audience and to the directors or producers you wish to work for.

Speech and Voice

If you are interested in an acting career, one of the most valuable tools you'll have at your disposal is the ability to vocalize and speak properly. You should be able to control your pitch, tempo, and volume. In an acting position, you should be able to project your voice loudly or to whisper so that you are barely audible. You'll also need to learn how to convey emotions through speech. You may benefit from learning how to sing since some acting jobs may require the ability to sing.

You could improve your speech and voice by practicing breath control or enrolling in a public speaking class. Singing instruction can help you to develop your singing voice, as well.


Since acting requires as much movement as it does vocalization, you need to be able to move in whichever manner is deemed appropriate by the script or screenplay. For example, the ability to perform dances across multiple genres and styles can add to your skill set. Other acting jobs may require you to partake in choreographed combat sequences. Similar to speech and voice, actors need to be able to portray emotion and feeling through movement.

Classes in dance, choreography or gymnastics may be helpful in gaining these types of skills and allowing you to have more control over the way your body moves. Alternatively, some schools may offer acting degrees that include courses in movement and expression.

Other Skills Needed

If you are interested in becoming an actor, you need to have a good sense of awareness and timing. Classes in improvisation may improve upon these skills However, some of the skills that are necessary to become an actor cannot be taught in a classroom.

You need to be able to take instructions and criticism well. You also need to be able to properly focus on the character and scene you are portraying during an audition, rehearsal, live on stage or when you are filming live in front of a camera. Since rehearsals and shooting can be long and exhausting, you also need to have enough physical stamina and strength to meet the demands of the schedule. Memorization is also a critical skill, as you'll be regularly expected to study scripts thoroughly and know all of your lines at a moment's notice.

Where To Acquire Acting Skills

While a degree is certainly not required to become a successful actor, an associate or bachelor's degree is becoming more common for the profession, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov).

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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