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 2018 was $17.54 (www.bls.gov). Wages ranged from $9.05 or less for the bottom 10% of workers to $61.74 or more for the top 10% of workers. Employment for this occupation was projected by the BLS to grow at a faster-than-average pace of 12% between 2016 and 2026.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Required Education Some college or other formal education is helpful, though not required
On-the-Job Training Continuous throughout a 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 2018 included California, New York, Georgia, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, according to the BLS. Arizona and California were the top-paying states for this occupation, with average hourly wages of $36.60 and $34.74, respectively. Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and Tennessee were other high-paying states that offered actors average wages between $28.80 and $30.13 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 the museum and historical sites made a low average wage of $14.12 per hour as of May 2018. Actors who worked in film industries, on the other hand, had a much higher hourly wage average of $31.38. Actors associated with performing arts companies earned a mean wage of $24.40 per hour in 2018, while accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services actors averaged $33.34 per hour, per the BLS. Those employed in advertising, public relations, and related services earned the highest mean salary of $39.75 in that same period, per BLS.

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