Actor Vs Stagehand Comparison

Actors and stagehands often work in close proximity, and they are both involved in creating a successful live or filmed production, but their responsibilities are very different. however. Learn more about job duties, median salary and employment projection.

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Comparing Actors to Stagehands

Actors embody roles in plays, films and other mediums. Stagehands contribute to the work that actors and musical performers do by creating set pieces for productions and assembling them. The table below contains important details about these two careers.

Job Title Educational Requirements Hourly Median Salary Job Outlook (2014-2024)*
Actor Postsecondary training recommended $18.70 (2016)* 10%
Stagehand High school diploma and on-the-job training $17.43 (2017)** 6% (for all carpenters)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **

Responsibilities of Actors vs. Stagehands

Stagehands are often the unsung heroes of productions. They play an important role in creating the set designs for live theater or film productions. During live productions they may need to change out items quickly, and their work involves a lot of lifting. Actors memorize lines and pretend to be a character, or a number of characters, in order to help tell a story to an audience.


Actors use their creative talents to portray both fictional and biographical roles. They may work in theater and perform in front of a live audience, or they may act for film productions. In some cases, an actor may have short-term roles such as playing a character in a commercial. Other actors may play the same roles for a number of years and appear in television show episodes or films. This is a competitive career field and the work hours are based on the production the actor is employed by. Travel may be necessary to film on location, and actors may also have to do public appearances to promote their work.

Job responsibilities of an actor include:

  • Discussing possible roles with agents
  • Meeting producers and other professionals involved with a production
  • Auditioning for roles
  • Practicing their lines
  • Learning about the character they are playing


Stagehands typically work on live stage performances, including plays and musical events, as well as closed film and television sets. They are in charge of constructing items that will be used to create the background scenery or decoration for a production. Stagehands may also work on music productions where they're required to assist with setting up audio and visual equipment. They do not necessarily need any formal postsecondary training, although they must be strong enough to be able to move set pieces, and they may find they have increased job prospects if they have experience with contracting. Their hours can vary widely and include evening and weekend work.

Job responsibilities of a stagehand include:

  • Moving materials to and from the stage
  • Working with the director or other professionals to determine the right design plan for scenes
  • Checking on the set appearance and adjust pieces as needed
  • Ensuring equipment is placed properly on the stage
  • Reading blueprints
  • Practicing assembling and disassembling sets

Related Careers

Those interested in acting may also be interested in directing, where they can work with actors and production crews to produce films. Those considering working as a stagehand may also be interested in an audio visual technician career, in which professionals specialize in working with sound systems that are used to amplify the performances of actors and musicians.

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