Actors Vs Performers Comparison

Entertainers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from formal actors to diverse types of performers. This article gives information about the education and responsibilities of these professionals.

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Comparing Actors to Performers

Actors and performers enjoy the time they spend entertaining audiences, whether it's on a stage, screen or street. Performers come in a variety of guises, like singers, dancers, jugglers and clowns. Actors play rehearsed roles as characters in plays, films or television programs, while performers present an expertly-honed skill to entertain. Below is some vital information about acting and performance careers.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Actor Formal dramatic education or a bachelor's degree $18.70 (hourly) 10%
Performer High School Diploma $17.34 (hourly) 7%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Actors vs. Performers

The most important thing about both of these career fields is the need to entertain. Actors will get training from universities or formal dramatic schools and are responsible for a variety of areas involved in their craft, including movement, character building, dialects and stagecraft techniques. They may practice and present method acting, character work, and mime to bring written characters alive. Performers, on the other hand, master one specialized style or form of performance. They are more often solo acts and perform for a set period, usually less than an hour at a time. Performers could include dancers, magicians, or clowns; their routines may involve improvisation, but usually their performances are the public culmination of extensive skill practice. While actors work on stages or for recorded mediums like film, performers can be found anywhere, including horse arenas, sporting events, or even in the streets.


Actors commonly immerse themselves in a role for live or recorded performances, such as theater, television, or film. Actors are expected to learn dialogue, participate in rehearsals, and be available for makeup and costume meetings. They also study for each role, learning about the character they will portray. They get their early training and practice usually in university or community theater plays. Most actors will earn a bachelor's degree.

Job responsibilities of an actor include:

  • Follow the supervision of the director
  • Read scripts submitted by agents
  • Audition for various roles
  • Memorize lines and learn blocking
  • Rehearse with other actors


Performers tend to focus less on character study and more on the unqiue skills required for their type of performance. Performers could work in a variety of entertainment areas: dance troops, circus acts, or comedy circuits, to name a few. These entertainers also find a variety of ways to learn their art. Many learn their craft through formal classes, whereas others might seek out internships with masters of the craft in areas like comedy, juggling, contortion, and sword swallowing.

Job responsibilities of a performer include:

  • Spend hours and hours in practice
  • Sign with a booking agent
  • Travel for performances
  • Make appearances on stage or arenas or stadiums
  • Be able to take direction if working with a group

Related Careers

Entertainers who choose to be actors or performers may also wish to consider work as television announcers or producers. Being a television announcer requires acting and performance skills, particularly those related to the voice. Television producers could work on live local news shows, sporting events or special programming; this may involve organizing and managing other actors and performers.

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