How To Become an Actor (With Duties and Qualifications)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 16 November 2022

Published 26 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Acting can be a rewarding job that can allow you to entertain others as a profession. The right mix of skills and qualifications is necessary in order to excel at it. Learning about the steps to pursuing this career can help you score acting jobs. In this article, we discuss what acting entails and highlight the steps you can take to become an actor.

How to become an actor

The guide below highlights practical steps on how to become an actor:

1. Take a drama course in secondary school

If you discover your passion for acting as a teenager, you can take a drama course in your secondary school. This is an important step that can help you begin to develop your acting abilities. A drama course can help you learn the fundamentals of acting and hone your acting skills.

2. Attend a post-secondary acting school

After your secondary education, you can apply for admission into an acting school to gain additional acting experience. These acting schools offer subjects that help you develop practical experience. Remember that education in an acting school is not obligatory for actors.

3. Get an acting degree

Getting a higher education in acting will equip you with a solid and well-rounded foundation in a challenging environment. You will also have the opportunity to interact with talented, like-minded individuals that might develop into invaluable industry contacts. A degree from a renowned school shows that you are an actor who has undergone rigorous, high-quality training and might help you compete for roles against other actors.

4. Gain experience

Obtaining practical acting experience is important for aspiring actors. To develop your acting portfolio, consider starting your career with roles in small-scale productions. Such productions may give you a chance to appear on camera. You can also use your performance in local shows to build your credibility as an actor. Another way to gain experience is to audition and act in student films.

In addition, you can consider auditioning for television advertisements to get practical acting experience and appearances on camera. If you get frequent offers after your advertisement debut, you can easily move to the acting field.

Related: How To Become a Model in 11 Steps

5. Create your resume

After gaining considerable acting experience in local dramas and advertisements, you can start creating your acting resume. Casting directors often request acting resumes from amateur actors before giving them roles. Your acting resume can contain a summary of your acting experience, any formal acting education you have obtained, and a professional headshot. The headshot on your resume can be a high-quality photo of you that shows your face clearly. Directors use professional headshots to place actors in roles that have particular physical requirements.

Related: Should You Include a Resume Photo? A Complete Guide

6. Make a demo reel

After you gain experience on camera, you can create a demo reel. A demo reel highlights your past acting experiences to convince casting directors of your competence. Creating a demo reel can help you get acting jobs. You can keep the length of your demo reel between one and three minutes to match the standards for the industry.

Related: What Does a Film Director Do? (Plus Common Skills)

7. Get lessons from an acting coach

Next, you can continue your acting education with additional lessons. An acting coach can expose you to new career opportunities and advise you on how to advance your acting career. Acting coaches also help aspiring actors learn skills that can land them high-paying roles.

Related: What Does a Producer Do? (With Skills, Salary and FAQs)

8. Employ an acting agent

Thanks to their connections with casting directors and producers in the entertainment industry, an acting agent can help you secure prominent roles. While you focus on acting, your agent can hand out your resume and make calls to influential professionals in the industry. In return, they may take a percentage from your salary.

Related: How to Overcome 4 Common Job Search Barriers

9. Audition for acting roles

As you continue to gain experience, you can audition for acting roles. Going on auditions for top roles can prove to producers and directors that you are a skilled actor. You can keep auditioning even if you get rejected the first few times. Auditions can help reveal the inconsistencies in your performance, so you know which skills to improve.

Related: How to Become a Screenwriter in 5 Steps (Plus Career Tips)

10. Join an acting union

Once you are an established actor, consider joining acting unions like the Association of Singapore Actors. Such acting unions can expose you to larger acting roles. Joining a union can also provide you with networking opportunities with experienced actors.

11. Stay relevant

It's important to stay relevant as you develop in your acting career. You can update your social media accounts with engaging content about you to stay relevant with fans and casting directors. This may also help you achieve future roles.

Duties of an actor

Actors have duties on and off camera. They spend most of their time mastering scripts and the mannerisms of their characters. They also work with directors, singers, dancers, the camera crew and the business managers of the production studios. Actors and their agents spend time negotiating contracts to ensure they secure the best deals and receive adequate compensation for their skills and talent.

Here are other duties and responsibilities of an actor:

  • Read scripts and evaluate the roles and storyline to determine if the story piques their interest

  • Accept and reject scripts

  • Memorise the lines of their character from the script and deliver the actions and words of their character in the most believable way

  • Rehearse several scenes with co-actors before acting

  • Serve as product ambassadors for business brands

  • Become managers for rising talents

  • Work as narrators for documentaries

  • Work as anchors of live shows

  • Grant interviews and press conferences to media outfits to promote productions

  • Create voice-overs for radio shows and animations

  • Train and exercise to fit the body type of the character they play

Read more: What Does an Actor Do? Role and Job Responsibilities

Salary for an actor

Actors earn an average salary of $43,249 per year. The salary of an actor depends on the frequency and quality of work they receive. For instance, actors with impressive acting skills tend to receive numerous acting offers, while extras may only get hourly wages or appear in film productions for free. Most actors typically earn lower wages at the beginning of their careers and receive more pay as they progress. Actors can improve their acting skills as they progress in the acting world to earn higher wages.

Qualifications for an actor

Like other professions, actors can obtain certain qualifications to receive high-paying job offers and hone their acting skills. To excel in their field, actors can possess qualifications in the following areas:

Education

If you begin your career as a child actor, you may not need formal acting education to debut. However, it's best that adult actors who want to join the entertainment industry get acting education. An associate or bachelor's degree in acting or related courses is desirable for aspiring actors. You can obtain an acting degree at universities, colleges or acting schools.

Schools like the LASALLE College of the Arts, the American Acting Centre of Singapore, and the Intercultural Theatre Institute offer top training to professional actors. It may take you about three years to complete an acting course in professional acting schools. Most acting schools require their applicants to possess specific abilities before they accept them into their programme. For instance, The Intercultural Theatre Institute asks that its candidates satisfy the following criteria:

  • They must be older than 18 years

  • They must possess a GCE ‘A' level certificate, a university degree, or a polytechnic diploma

  • They must have acting experience

  • They must have proficiency in the English language

Training

You can receive training from professional acting coaches or get on-the-job training by auditioning for minor acting roles. If you attend an acting school, you can take subjects that may improve your acting skills. Training is important because it can allow you to develop and improve your abilities as an actor.

Related: How to Improve Communication Skills (With Definition and Examples)

Skills

Actors who want to be successful in their job in the entertainment industry should possess the following skills:

  • Creativity: Actors can use creative thinking skills to improvise if they forget their lines. While delivering their lines, actors can also exercise creativity when displaying the mannerisms of their characters.

  • Memorisation: An actor should also possess memorisation skills. This ability can help them remember characters' lines and stage directions.

  • Communication: Successful actors are skilled at interpreting the roles they play. When they have problems understanding a scene, they can use communication skills to convey their concerns to directors.

  • Public speaking: An actor may need to perform on a stage or address the media during press conferences. For this reason, they should be skilled at projecting their voices and speaking in public.

  • Singing and dancing: Actors can also possess voice and movement skills. For example, actors who want to perform in musicals can understand how to sing and dance in the desired style for a production.

Related: Soft Skills: Definition, Examples and Tips

Explore more articles