Career Education - Learn about all careers, career pay salary, job outlook

What Actors Do

Actors express ideas and portray characters in theater, film, television, and other performing arts media. They also work at theme parks or for other live events. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.


Actors typically do the following:

Most actors struggle to find steady work, and few achieve recognition as stars. Some work as “extras,” actors who appear on screen with no lines to deliver. Some do voiceover or narration work for animated features, audiobooks, or other electronic media.

In some stage or film productions, actors sing, dance, or play a musical instrument. For some roles, an actor must learn a new skill, such as horseback riding or stage fighting.

Most actors have long periods of unemployment between roles and often hold other jobs to make a living. Some actors teach acting classes in high schools, university drama departments, or community programs as a second job. For more information on workers who teach acting classes, see the profiles on self-enrichment teachers, high school teachers, and postsecondary teachers.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition