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Actress Job Information

Updated on November 1, 2012

© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.

The term “actress” refers to the female version of the more gender-neutral term “actor.” She performs dialogue and scenes from a script under the guidance of a director. The working hours for her job are long and irregular, often occupying evenings, weekends and holidays. Full-time work is rare and schedules are typically variable.


Actresses interpret characters in movies, televisions, theater and other media. They may also work in live venues such as amusement parks. To obtain their roles, they must audition in front of directors and producers either by performing monologues or reading selections from a script. They must then memorize their lines and rehearse with other actors in front of a director. Finding work can be a struggle and many actors supplement their acting income with day jobs as waitresses or office clerks. Unemployment is common between roles. Many actors also supplement their work by teaching or by performing as “extras” who appear in the background with no lines to say.


Producers base their hiring of actresses on their auditions and previous performances. Many in the profession receive their training on the job. Nevertheless, many actresses have dramatic training, especially those who focus on theater. Classes are available from conservatories and acting schools. Universities also have bachelor’s degrees in acting. The profession requires many years of training and persistence. Many actresses start by performing in school plays and community theater productions. They may then take small roles on stage or in independent movies, before working their way up to major roles in movies and television.


As of May 2011, actresses made a mean $23.73 per hour according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The government agency could not compute an annual wage due to the irregular working hours.

  • The lowest-earning 10 percent received $7.09 per hour, while the best-paid 10 percent made over $56.67 hourly.
  • The biggest employers for the profession were the motion picture and video industries, with hourly wages of $24.74.
  • The highest paying employers were accounting and bookkeeping services that hired actresses for commercials and industrials. Pay here ran $27.51 per hour.


The BLS predicts job growth of 4 percent for actresses, which is far less than the 14 percent expected for all occupations in all professions, and also under the 16 percent forecast for all entertainers and performers. The demand will come from the motion picture industry and television, as well as from new content delivery systems such as mobile media and the Internet. Competition is intense. Even small roles usually have many actresses competing for them. In theater, a bachelor’s degree in theater can offer better prospects.


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    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 5 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Acting is quite an interesting profession. There was a time when I thought I might want to be an actress, so I took drama classes in high school and college, then I did some parts in community theater. Acting is hard work for such little pay. As fun and rewarding as it is, I discovered it is not as glamorous as people think. You paint a clear picture here for people who might be considering acting as a career.