About Actors' Salaries and Cost of Studying Acting

QUESTION:

How much will I be paid yearly as an actor and how much will acting school cost?

ANSWER:

I'm afraid there is no straight answer to either of these questions because actors' salaries vary immensely and so does the cost of tuition at different acting schools.

In terms of salary, all I can say is that there are no guarantees. Movie stars make millions of dollars of course, but their income is not representative of what a regular actor makes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "the median hourly wages of actors were $16.59 in May 2008". That being said, most SAG actors – actors that work in union film and television jobs – make less then $7,500 a year. That's not much. Of course, that's because jobs can be few and far between. Pay scales start at $782 a day right now on SAG films an TV shows, and that doesn't include residuals, which is the money an actor makes every time a film, TV show or commercial is viewed. Residuals can add up over the years and be a nice passive income for performers. Union theater jobs has different pay scales depending on the size and status of each theater. For example, Broadway salaries start at around $1,500 weekly while small showcase productions may not offer any pay. Non-union jobs usually pay less then union jobs and while you build your resume as a beginning actor, you may not get any pay at all.

Acting school rates also vary wildly. You can browse our acting school listings to get an idea of what tuition can cost. You will find that it ranges anywhere from $30,000 a year for tuition only at a prestigious acting university to a few hundred dollars for a short term acting class.

Bottom line? Studying acting can be a huge investment and you are not guaranteed a high-paying acting job when you come out of school. There is more competition in the performing arts then in most other fields. Starting an acting career is a leap of faith. You will be taking a risk, but if you take the time to choose the right drama school for you, you'll be able to make an educated decision about which school to go to so you don't spend thousands of dollars on a program that won't give you the best chances of success.

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