What Is the Salary Range for Actors?

Working as an actor can involve both fame and struggle. Very few actors achieve high-profile status, but this job field comes with the potential to earn a highly lucrative salary. Keep reading to learn more about your earning potential as an actor. Schools offering Acting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job and Salary Overview for Actors

Although well-known actors make large sums of money, the majority of actors earn fairly low wages and face steep competition for roles. As an actor, you might find yourself working on individual projects for short periods of time and, as a result, you could be out of work frequently. Because of the unpredictability of the job field, actors often have to work a second job to supplement their income.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median hourly wage for actors as of May 2014 was $19.82 (www.bls.gov). The bottom ten percent of actors earned $9.00 per hour or less, while the top 25% of wage earners made an hourly wage of $49.70 or higher. Employment for this occupation was projected by the BLS to grow at a faster-than-average pace of ten percent between 2014 and 2024.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Required Education Some college or other formal education is helpful, though not required
On-the-Job Training Continuous throughout career
Key Skills Memorization, speaking, and reading skills; physical stamina, creativity and persistence
Work Environment Studio setting or on location
Similar Occupations Announcer, dancer, singer, musician, director

Salary Based on Location

Although acting jobs are available throughout the country, states with the highest levels of employment as of May 2014 included California, Louisiana, Illinois, Florida, and Pennsylvania, according to the BLS. New York and Washington were the top-paying states for this occupation, with average hourly wages of $46.41 and $43.43, respectively. New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Nevada were other high-paying states that offered actors average wages between $27 and $29 per hour.

Salary Based on Industry

You can choose to pursue acting jobs in a variety of entertainment industries, including stage and theatre, theme parks, motion pictures, and television. These fields all can provide actors with varying salaries. For example, the BLS reported that actors employed at amusement parks and arcades made a low average wage of $24.97 per hour as of May 2014. Actors who worked in film, on the other hand, had a much higher hourly wage average of $40.85. Actors associated with performing arts companies earned a mean wage of $28.50 per hour in 2014, while accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services actors averaged $51.02 per hour, per the BLS.

Collective Bargaining Agreements and Contracts

Professional acting associations, such as the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), negotiate minimum salary guidelines and work conditions for actors. For example, because of an established negotiation between SAG and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists in July 2013, all unionized television and motion picture performers with speaking parts can expect to earn $859 per day or $2,979 for an entire work week. Stage actors also have a negotiating union called the Actors Equity Association.

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