Each month we take a look at one of the 650 career pathways featured within Indigo. This month, we explore the role of an Actor.

Actor Adam Lloyd-James shares his insight into a career working as an actor with this video career profile from the Indigo Careers module.

So what is an Actor?

Actors perform in front of audiences and this can sometimes include dancing and singing as part of the role. There are opportunities for parts in dramatic plays, comedies and musicals on stage as well as on TV and in films.

You will research your characters, rehearse lines and attend auditions.

You will also attend costume fittings and make-up sessions.


Your hours will be long and irregular, including evenings and weekends. 


You will work mainly indoors, in theatres, halls and sometimes studios.

You could have to travel to different venues for your performances where you might spend time waiting for your part in the performance. 

Type of work

You will work closely with other actors and members of the production team.

Things to consider

Low earnings or unstable income
Sometimes work can be irregular so you will not necessarily have a stable income.

Potential for knock-backs
The nature of the work means that you will experience a lot of rejection which may be hard to take. 

It is a tough, demanding career to enter and to stay in, but once you get regular work it can be very satisfying. 

Very competitive
Acting is a very competitive area so you should be truly dedicated to this career path. 

Little progression opportunity

Prospects for success an an actor depend on talent, hard work and a bit of luck. 

Most people have an undergraduate degree and you will need previous experience/passion for the field

Although there are no specific academic requirements to enter this profession and there is a variety of different routes into the industry, it is still incredibly competitive and a lot of actors have taken some formal training in order to hone their skills and prepare for the demands of the job. Acting degrees are offered at both drama schools and universities. Entry to these courses is by audition, and A levels/H grades or a BTEC Level 3 in Performing Arts are often required. Further study, such as a master’s degree or postgraduate diploma in acting, is also available and can offer more opportunities to make contacts and develop your skills.

Students on performing arts courses who are legally entitled to work in the UK are eligible for Equity student membership. This can be upgraded to full membership on completion of the course.

Salary progression
Basic rates of pay depend on experience and reputation. It is important to join Equity – the union for the world of entertainment – as this can help you negotiate fair rates of pay, terms and conditions. Union-negotiated pay scales are on the Equity website.

The minimum pay for performers (as set by Equity) is £483 per week although this can increase if the actor has to relocate. The salary in the West End tends to be higher. The wages for TV and film work vary considerably and are dependent on how well known you are as an actor. As you become a recognised name your income could be quite considerable, but it may take many years and continuous employment is uncommon.

Although there are a few (very famous) actors who earn huge salaries, the majority of actors have to take on second employment to support themselves and raise their income. Only a small proportion of actors receive more than £30,000.

Top Tip

Networking is extremely important as a lot of actors secure roles through contacts they have made.

Click here to explore the full library of over 650 career profiles, including multimedia content and LMI data for students to interpret and discuss.