Become an Actress: Education and Training Requirements

The steps to becoming an actress include acting education, training, and more. Explore actress requirements in more detail and learn about actress salaries and job outlook. View article »

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  • 0:00 Should I Become an Actress?
  • 1:05 Step 1: Take Acting Class
  • 2:25 Step 2: Consider…
  • 3:36 Step 3: Attend Auditions
  • 4:30 Step 4: Gain Experience
  • 5:20 Step 5: Continue…

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Video Transcript

How to Become an Actress

An actress is a female performer. Actresses may perform in a variety of media forms, such as movies, plays, or television shows. Acting is a competitive career and it may take years before an actress can make a living in the field. The steps to becoming an actress include:

  • Education
  • Training
  • Auditioning
  • Experience

Here are these steps in more detail:

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Although a formal acting education is not required, it is common for actresses to pursue at least some postsecondary education. There are many different cities throughout the country, such as Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta, that are home to acting schools with acting courses and degree programs available.

Bachelor's degrees are fairly common among actors and actresses -- they help can make them more competitive in the field. Aspiring actresses may pursue a bachelor's degree in acting, drama, or other closely related fields, like filmmaking. Usually, these degree programs result in a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree. Students in these degree programs may take courses in areas like:

  • Voice and speech
  • Acting technique
  • Theater history
  • Costume design
  • Film studies
  • Acting for film

While master's degree programs are not usually required and are less common, there are Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Acting or Theater programs available. Students may also choose to pursue related degree programs, such as master's degree programs in film and video editing, filmmaking, or film and television.

Step 2: Pursue Training

With or without formal education, many actresses will choose to pursue long-term training by taking various actress classes. Students may continue to take acting courses at the college level or pursue various courses/training to learn a related skill. For example, actors or actresses may take some online dance courses or singing lessons to prepare for a role.

Step 3: Audition

As mentioned, acting is a competitive field and actresses must usually compete for a role through an audition process. Typically, these auditions take place with the production's director, casting director, and/or producer. Actresses may prepare for an audition by memorizing lines and considering how to interpret the character.

Step 4: Gain Experience

In order to grow her reputation, an actress must perform in as many productions as possible. Generally, actresses will begin performing in local theater productions or independent movies and may continue auditioning for larger roles.

Actress Salary and Outlook

As of August 2019, the median salary for an actor or actress was $49,988, per PayScale.com. This equated to a median hourly rate of $19.92 per hour. Another source, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), reported that most actors worked in the motion picture and video industries and made an average hourly rate of $31.38 in 2018. Of course, these numbers can vary wildly -- many actresses struggle to make a living, while others who 'make it' enjoy some of the highest salaries of any industry.

The BLS also reported a job outlook for actors of 12% from 2016 to 2026. This is thought to be due to the rise of new entertainment, streaming services and internet platforms.

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