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Occupational Profile

Actor

Actors perform roles in dramatic productions on stage, radio, television, in movies and in new media arts. They also perform in television and radio commercials, and work in media narration and voice-overs (for example, video games).

  • Avg. Salary N/A
  • Avg. Wage N/A
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook N/A
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Artist

NOC & Interest Codes
The Actor is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Actors and Comedians
NOC code: 5135.1
METHODICAL

Interest in synthesizing information to develop character roles and memorize lines and cues; and in attending rehearsals, wardrobe fittings and make-up sessions

INNOVATIVE

Interest in diverting audiences by playing roles, singing, dancing and performing comedy acts in video or motion pictures, television shows, theatre productions, radio dramas, commercials and other productions; in performing narration; in performing comedy acts alone or as members of comedy troupes; and in improvising roles

directive

Interest in auditioning and rehearsing for roles

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation. 

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Apr 19, 2017

Actors' duties vary depending on the requirements of the roles they play but, in general, they:

  • spend a considerable amount of time building a network of entertainment-industry contacts including agents, casting directors and producers
  • audition for roles
  • spend hours researching and studying theirproject and their role, and rehearsing and learning lines and cues
  • work closely with directors, other actors and sometimes writers to find the interpretation they think is most suited to their role
  • learn special skills such as singing, dancing, gymnastics, juggling or stage combat, as required
  • work together with other actors in ensembles.

Stage actors may be invited by directors or playwrights to workshop new plays . In workshopping - this script-development process - actors may be asked to read a character's lines or stage all or part of the play to help directors or playwrights see the characters brought to life. Performers also may be invited to become part of a collective. Collective creation is a collaborative method of play development in which the group as a whole devises a new play.

Working Conditions
Updated Apr 19, 2017

Actors often work long, irregular hours and may work holidays and weekends. Rehearsals may vary in length depending on the medium in which the actor is working.

Weekly television shows and commercials usually are filmed in a short period of time, allowing actors  less time to prepare and rehearse. Miniseries, specials and movies take much longer to film and involve more rehearsal time.

Stage actors have longer rehearsal periods than performers on radio and television. They must be ready for opening night and be able to duplicate their performances consistently throughout the length of the play's run.

Most actors in stage productions perform 6 evenings each week and 1 or 2 matinees on weekends. Their normal day off is Monday. Plays or musicals usually run for several weeks. Some productions run for months or even years, although the casts may change.

When performing in plays or working on  films, it is common for actors to travel to other cities. They may be away from home for a few weeks or several months. Working on location may involve working in a wide variety of environments (for example, in noisy factories, underground or in severe storms).

  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Apr 19, 2017

Actors need to possess:

  • imagination and creativity
  • a talent for creating roles
  • the ability to persevere when looking for work
  • patience
  • stamina and vitality
  • self-discipline and commitment to developing and refining their skills
  • the ability to learn quickly and adapt to directors' interpretations
  • the ability to work with others in an ensemble.

They should enjoy having variety and creativity in their work, as well as the recognition and freedom their work brings.

Educational Requirements
Updated Apr 19, 2017

Actors must have performance experience. They often start their careers by appearing in amateur theatre and school productions or by working with community theatre groups.

In a talent-based occupation such as acting, related education does not guarantee success. However, versatility is a definite asset. Acting, singing, movement and dance skills increase an actor's potential for success in this highly competitive field.

Many actors also benefit from developing their skills in negotiation and business management. Since most actors are self-employed independent contractors, they operate as small businesses and often negotiate their own contracts.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

Concordia University of Edmonton

Grant MacEwan University

University of Calgary

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Theatre Alberta holds an annual audition event in Edmonton and Calgary to bring together graduates of Alberta post-secondary acting programs with the province's artistic directors, freelance directors, casting directors and talent agents. Participation is by invitation only.

Throughout their careers, professional actors continue to take speech and voice training, movement, stage combat and other specialized courses or lessons to maintain and refine their skills.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Apr 19, 2017

Getting started as an actor requires spending time preparing monologues for general auditions, reading for parts and getting to know people (and thereby becoming known) in the industry. Established actors, especially in television and film, often have agents who represent them and arrange for auditions.

Stage actors look for work by auditioning for the artistic directors of professional theatre companies. Once a year companies hold open auditions to see as many new actors as possible. Larger theatres such as the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton and Theatre Calgary send directors across Canada to audition actors. Professional theatres in Canada are permitted to hire a certain percentage of non-professional actors. This is how many new performers are hired for their first part. Being in the right place at the right time and having the right look also play a role in getting a first part.

Auditioning for film and television usually involves meeting with producers or directors who may already have seen the actor's resumé and photograph. Sometimes actors are called back 2 or 3 times to audition before a casting decision is made. Most film and television actors have agents to arrange auditions and negotiate contracts.

Many actors create their own work by developing (collectively or independently) theatre or film scripts which they then produce or direct themselves.

Professional actors usually belong to the Canadian Actors' Equity Association (for live performance) or the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA). These unions set minimum fees and working standards. Actors must gain some experience performing in equity (union) productions before they are eligible to join. It is possible to work as a professional actor without joining either union; however, most actors belong to at least 1.

Actors are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5135: Actors and Comedians. In Alberta, 88% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook (PDF) in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions)
  • size of the occupation
Wage & Salary
Updated Apr 19, 2017

An actor's life is rarely financially rewarding. Minimum wages are set by unions and maximum wages are negotiated by actors or agents. (As of October 1, 2016, the minimum wage in Alberta is $12.20 per hour for most jobs. For more information, see Alberta Employment Standards.) However, many actors accept non-equity (non-union) work or work in co-operative productions. Some actors generate their own work by creating productions for fringe festivals or other events that are open to all submissions.

Many actors must supplement their income between performances by taking part-time jobs that may be unrelated to acting. Others may work as directors, acting or voice coaches, or post-secondary drama teachers.

According to the 2013 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Actors and Comedians occupational group earned on average from $14.87 to $16.88 an hour. More recent data is not available.

Related High School Subjects
  • Fine Arts
    • Drama
  • English Language Arts
  • Media, Design and Communication Arts
    • Communication Technology
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
Other Sources of Information
Updated Apr 19, 2017

Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists website: www.actra.ca

Canadian Actors' Equity Association website: www.caea.com

Cultural Human Resources Council website: www.culturalhrc.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Dec 01, 2016. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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