How to Become Actor

This article provides in-depth information into What is Actor? What Actor do? Degrees for Actor, Steps to become Actor and much more.

What does an actor do?

An Actor's job is to portray the character they play and connect with the audience while conveying a story in a movie, play, theater or a television show.

An actor or actress must be persistent and consistent with the efforts they put towards building his career.

They represent the character in a realistic way to express and convey the emotions involved. They usually research about the character’s interest, hobbies and the style to depict the same on the frame. It is also important to have good physical appearance as actors and actresses usually undergo physical transformations to make the character look real. 

Steps to become an Actor

The path to become an actor is not as clear cut as other professions,however here are some of the steps you must follow to be to reach the ultimate goal,

Step 1- Theater in High school

Your journey to an acting career can initially begin by participating at high school theater events, plays and music. Students get exposure as they perform in plays, write their own scripts, design costumes and develop skills by enacting in front of large audience. You also learn to face  preliminary auditions that enhance your confidence for countless auditions in the professional world. This also helps you to figure out if the acting career is right for you.

Step 2- Gain experience

Auditioning for roles for a play at the local area or theaters could add up your skills. Even a small role could help you gain experience behind the curtains and the various methods of acting. This is essential for the long run. 

Step 3- Get an education

A formal college education is not mandatory to be a successful actor or actress,  however college education aspires performers to develop skills in acting, technicality about the profession and  behind the scenes. You can choose the post-secondary programs for drama in most public and private colleges in the United States including the community colleges to learn about the acting skills, how the business dealing works and contracts. Production programs sponsored by college helps producers to hunt for new young talent.

An art academy could motivate you better towards your profession.

Step 4- Practice for Perfection: effective resume

Acting requires perfection in the role you play and this is achieved by rigorous practice.Practicing on your acting skills will help you get an hands on experience to become a professional. It is advised to gain as much experience to express better. Small playhouses, theaters and workshops give a great environment for performers to practice their talent. 

Networking plays a vital role in this profession and joining a theater team makes way to build contacts with people.

Step 5- Build a Resume

Building an effective resume for an acting career is important, it could give you a great start. Its details about the various roles you played and the experience at theaters, music videos, a commercial. 

Step 6- Hire an agent

As you enter the professional world, it's time you hire an experienced agent. An agent helps you to build a good network, avoid mistakes, get you more opportunities for vivid roles and auditions. Agent helps you to become a successful actor or actress at a higher level with less time.

Types of degrees to pursue an acting profession

Acting is a diverse profession and you must have perseverance to excel in this profession. The educational background is also vast and you must choose the right path to reach your career goal. Here are some degree programs to succeed in the acting industry,

Associate degree in Acting and Theater: Students can choose Acting and Theater as a core topic who pursue an associate degree. The course is for a period of two years and targets the classes for acting students with general education. It is a stepping stone for actors and some courses offered are general communication, history,literature. Courses like the Fundamental of Acting include characterisation, memorising dialogues, improvisation.

Bachelor's degree in Acting and Theaters: Bachelor's degree for students interested in acting and fine arts is a liberal program to motivate students towards their passion. This is a four year program that offers general education with the fine arts program.  Some courses under it are theater history, acting skills, and dramatic techniques.

Master’s degree in Acting and Theater: A Master’s program in Acting helps students to specialize in a particular topic of their choice such as writing, directing,acting or design(stage, costume or lighting). This program takes about two to three years to complete. Some of the courses for your interests are American theater, scene designing, scripting and business on stage.

PhD in Theaters and Art: Most students prefer the PhD programs in acting over the master's degree program. It usually takes six years to study the program with flexible courses and credits. This program offers specific topics of the theater for the interested students such as the history of theater and the various roles. PhD is best for students who want to master a particular area or an acting style. Some of the courses offered under this program are Cultural influence, Humor in tragedy, ancient theater.

Concentrations to be considered to be an actor

Academic concentrations: The various academic concentrations that a student pursuing acting must consider at various degree level are:

Associate degree in Theater

 This degree is a stepping stone for your acting career, here are some courses for you,

History of cinema

This is a course offered to understand the evolution of the films  from 1896 to present days. It also concentrates on the appreciation of cinemas, themes, genres and more. 

Skills acquired:

  • Understanding the history and making of cinemas
  • Analysis the basics of film
  • The narrative structure 
  • Learns about the various film making techniques
  • Relation between the film and literature
  • Analyse about the behind-the-scene roles

Basic costume construction

Course offered to introduce costume designing and the basic principle of theoretical designing and psychology of clothing. Research on designing appropriate costumes to add production value.

Skills acquired:

  • Practical and theoretical knowledge on designing costume
  • Learns stitching and sewing work
  • Costume construction
  • Operation of machines

Entertainment career

Students are given wide exposure to various career options to enhance their performing skills.

Skills acquired:

  • Effective resume building 
  • Portfolio preparation
  • Audition and interview techniques 
  • Different method of acting

Acting fundamentals

His course provides the basic vocabulary of acting with various approaches to create a character. Students also learn to improvise the character at circumstances and action. It is also a foundational course for theater minor and majors. 

Skills acquired:

  • Exploring and observe the character to play
  • Acting techniques
  • Expressing and interacting through the lens
  • Memorising the script and improvising the character.

Bachelor's degree in theaters

Some of the courses offered according to the interest of the students for the duration of 4 years are,

Dramatic technique

This helps students to be creative, expressive with the physical coordination, postures, communication skills, voice modulation during dialogue delivery and other practical training in this course.

Skills acquired:

  • Stronger teacher-student relationship
  • Inherit proper  physical postures and characters of the role
  • Project voice to mass
  • Implementing physical movements of the character to bring it to life.

Shakespeare text

This course aims at making students comfortable with the Shakespeare text and demands of the performance.

Skills acquired:

  • Conveying the story clearly
  • Spontaneity in acting
  • Analysing the scripts from literature to spoken words

Performance projects

This course gives students a topic and the performance is practiced within their own scripts, production, costumes and other. This helps students to grasp the historical and practical skills on the play they enact.

Skills acquired:

  • Take responsibility and teamwork
  • Stage management
  • Practical knowledge on cultural subjects.
  • Casting and directing for the performance.

Audition workshop

These workshops are organized to strengthen the skills of the students for professional careers. This helps the students to analyze their strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvisation.

Skills acquired:

  • How to interact during the audition
  • Improvisation based on the character requirements
  • Interaction with the camera
  • Express better through the lens

Master’s degree in Theaters

The master's level program for an acting student gives flexible courses and credit hours, here are some courses,

Traditions in American theater

This course deals with the historical survey of theaters in America from the colonial period of the 21st century. It also specifies about the lectures and discussion of the award winning plays and actors.

Skills acquired:

  • Learning the history and culture of American theaters
  • Connecting the present theaters with the history of the theater
  • New techniques for the theater 

Bringing scripts to life

This course guides students about the method of writing a good script. Scripts are the mode of conveying the story during their performance and can bring the character to life.

Skills acquired:

  • Drafting same scripts with various approaches
  • Experimenting with the sentences

Dramatic interpretation

Students are taught about how to create a perfect scene for play or a song and interpret the real emotions to be conveyed to the audience. This helps in getting a good performance over all.

Skills acquired

  • Interpreting a scene in various techniques
  • Working on improvising a scene
  • Picturising the scene to make it more appealing to the audience, directors.

Practical business on the stage

This course is to give practical knowledge of the business of the stage, this includes the production, business dealing, contract. It is basically a course to deal with the technicality behind the stage.

Skills acquired:

  • Understanding the business contracts
  • Approaching the agents
  • Technical support system off stage

PhD degree for Theaters

 Courses offered in this degree program is to specialize on the subject of your interest,Some are,

Celebrity and theories of performance

This course is to combine the acting skills with cognitive science to make it better through the eyes of the audience. This focuses on psychology and the influence a celebrity brings to the role.

Skills acquired:

  • Design elements of the theater
  • Expertise in theoretical literature
  • Analyse the psychology of the audience

Cross influencer of theater

This course trains students about how to influence the audience according to various cultures. A play performed in China is different from the same play performed in the United States. This is due to cultural changes.

Skills acquired:

  • Understanding the psychology of audience based on social culture
  • Analyse the international aesthetics

Cognitive approaches to the arts

To make students understand the importance of strengths and weakness of the performance by researching and exploring the script of a play. This helps in improvising and investigating those weaknesses.

Skills acquired:

  • Researching about the strength and weak spots
  • Analyse the approaches for improvising to seek a broad audience.

Use of humor in tragedy

Adding humor at a tragic scene is an out-of-the-box element. This course helps students to know about the importance of adding humor to a tragic play and how this method shines over the years while conveying sorrow.

Skills acquired:

  • Learning the balance between the sorrow and humor
  • Importance of laughter

Job concentration

Educating yourself in the theaters doesn't only fetch you the job of an actor or actress but also other career concentrations such as,

Acting coach

An acting coach is a well versed person who trains and mentors the performers with various methods and techniques of acting. He helps the performers bring the character to life and improvise their role. An acting coach could earn about $28,000 to $40,000 per year.

Set designer

From the courses taken by theater students, they could also be a set designer who  is responsible for creating the theater, film or television scenery. A set designer works closely with the director and producer and works towards the architecture and aesthetics of the set.

The average annual income of the set designer is about $43,000.


A director is one who directs the making of a film. He visualizes the screenplay of the various aspects of film and guides the technical crew and actors to fulfill that vision.

The annual income of a director is about  $60,000 per year for a fresher.


A Producer is one who handles the financial flow and budget of a film, he manages the aspects such as selecting the script, Arranging finance, editing  and other creative decisions.

A producer can be independent or from a production company and the average salary ranges from $40,000 to $90,000 annually.

Stand Out skills for an actor

Actors work hard to become successful in their profession. It takes genuine effort to develop skills and professionalism. An actor must possess certain outstanding skills to excel at his career and here are some skills listed, 

Skillful communication: Communication is an important aspect of acting to express and connect with the audience. Excellent verbal and non-verbal communication drags the audience towards his talent.

Creative nature: With great imagination and creativity in this profession an actor can easily stand out. The flow of artistic ideas in writing, dancing talking, how the character can be improvised, all comes under his own creativity

Memorization skills: Memorizing the long scripts to have an unbroken scene is the skills required for an actor and this is acquired from continuous practices. This gives him a hands on good dialogue delivery.

Good Physical stamina: Acting profession requires hours long practice and many rehearsal sessions. Hence, you must be enthusiastic and have a good physical stamina to support your dream. While you perform on a live stage, you must have stamina to act for several hours on stage without losing your stamina.

Perseverance: It is the key for an actor. He must be persistent with the roles and opportunities he gets.  A consistent effort is required and actors must keep trying for their betterment. 

Actors must also develop skills such as spontaneity, adaptability, dedication and self confidence to be successful in their career.