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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).

Also Known As

Artist, Performer

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 5135.1: Actors and Comedians

2006 NOC-S

  • F035: Actors and Comedians

2011 NOC

  • 5135: Actors and comedians

2016 NOC

  • 5135: Actors and comedians

2021 NOC

  • 53121: Actors, comedians and circus performers

2023 OaSIS

  • 53121.01: Actors and comedians
Updated May 14, 2021

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 their project 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.

Voice actors lend their vocal performances to commercials, video game or film projects. Because there is no physical performance, vocal actors need to project a character solely through their voice.

Motion Capture (MoCap) actors lend their physical performances to computer gaming or animated characters. They project a character through their body movements. The same actor may also do the vocal performance, or another actor may do it.

Working Conditions
Updated May 14, 2021
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg

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. 12-hour workdays are common in television and film. Actors may be required to shoot scenes that are dependant on time of day or weather.

Stage actors have longer rehearsal periods than performers on radio, television, or similar settings. They must be ready for opening night and be able to duplicate their performances consistently throughout the length of the play's run. Many plays can run up to 2 hours in length, so  actors must remember all their lines and perform them correctly every time.

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).

Voice actors have less preparation time than stage or film actors do. These actors read their scripts in sound recording booths. Sometimes they need to match their performance to other audio tracks or video recordings.

Motion capture (MoCap) actors perform in an area enclosed by special walls or screens. Special sensors are placed on key objects and the body joints of the performer, who wears a special suit for this purpose. The sensors then feed data to computers, which transfer the actor’s motions into 3D models to achieve realistic performances by the game or animation characters. MoCap actors may be required to repeat the same actions many times until the performance data is acceptable, which can be physically demanding.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Actors and Comedians

2006 NOC: 5135.1

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

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


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


Interest in auditioning and rehearsing for roles

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated May 14, 2021

Actors need:

  • Imagination, confidence and creativity
  • A talent for creating roles
  • An understanding of emotions and ways to portray them
  • 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 May 14, 2021
  • Minimum Education Varies

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.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

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.

Certification Requirements
Updated May 14, 2021
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated May 14, 2021

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 resume 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.

Voice actors typically present demo audio recordings of themselves to directors, or commercial agencies.

Game developers and computer animation developers look for motion capture actors based on their body proportions and movement abilities. Developers also look for facial features and expressiveness if facial performance capture is needed. A resume detailing body dimensions and any specialties in physical performance (such as dance, gymnastics, acrobatics, stunt or fight choreography) helps identify good matches to the character to be animated.

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.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 5135: Actors and comedians occupational group, 90.9% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 5135: Actors and comedians occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.6% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 39 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2019-2023 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Wage & Salary
Updated May 14, 2021

An actor's life is rarely financially rewarding. Minimum wages are set by unions and maximum wages are negotiated by actors or agents. 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.

As of June 26, 2019, the minimum wage in Alberta is $15.00 per hour for most workers. For more information, see Minimum Wage.

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
Other Sources of Information
Updated May 14, 2021

Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists website:

Black Actors and Film Guild Canada website:

Canadian Actors' Equity Association website:

Cultural Human Resources Council website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2021. 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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