Actor Vs Musician Comparison

Actors and musicians are talented individuals who perform for others. Read about the similarities and differences between these careers along with other career information.

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Comparing Actors to Musicians

Actors and musicians both perform using their skills for an audience. Actors take on roles as characters and improvise or perform from scripts while musicians play instruments or sing for an audience. Here you can learn more about these two performance careers and see how they relate and differ.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Actor No formal degree is needed, experience is recommended $18.70 per hour 10%
Musician No formal degree is needed, training is recommended $25.14 per hour 3% (All musicians and singers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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  • Piano and Organ
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Responsibilities of Actors vs. Musicians

Actors and musicians use their specific talents to entertain or inform an audience; however, they do this very differently. An actor represent a character in a script and bring it to life for an audience to see. A musician often plays one or more instruments or sings to entertain groups of people with his or her music. The types of audiences actors have are typically looking to watch a play, television show, or movie, while a musician's audience usually attends concerts or listens to recorded music. In order to perform professionally, both actors and musicians must practice their part, whether it is words from a script or sheet music.


Actors typically have a talent for performing. They take on a role, learn lines, and perform based on different ideas or a script. Actors may work in theaters, movies or television productions. Their job is to take on a character's role, so they must be able to learn new skills, such as singing and dancing. Actors must possess good reading and speaking skills to effectively use the script to portray their character. Actors work a variety of hours, which can mean they are working during the day or night and for extended periods of time.

Job responsibilities of an actor include:

  • Auditioning
  • Researching the script and character
  • Practicing, memorizing, and reciting lines
  • Working with producers, directors, and other actors
  • Perform various roles


Musicians may play instruments in an orchestra, small group, or a band. They typically have a specialized talent whether it is vocally or with a specific instrument. Musicians take on a style of music, such as classical, rock, opera, or hip-hop. They must be available to travel as their work often requires attending recording sessions or performing in concerts. The hours for a musician can vary as well, as they might rehearse during the day and perform at night.

Job responsibilities of a musician can include:

  • Practicing and performing with their group
  • Participating in photo shoots and interviews
  • Auditioning for different opportunities
  • Marketing themselves

Related Careers

Actors might also be interested in careers as movie producers and guide the script rather than being a character in the script. Those interested in being musicians may also like careers as music directors. As a music director, one would take on a leadership role for musical groups instead of actually performing in a group.

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