How to Become an Actor in 3 Simple Steps

What is an Actor

If you’re interested in acting, whether it’s on the stage, TV, the internet, or movies, you first need to know how to become an actor. The good news is, there is always a demand for actors and specific roles can call for anyone of age, look, level of experience, and more. It is however a competitive industry, so gaining the qualifications that help is a huge advantage.

Most of us think of famous movie stars in blockbuster movies. However, some actors have a successful career on the live stage, and some in small parts in films without ever becoming famous. You don’t need to hit the ‘big time’ to have a successful and fulfilling career, these actors make up a very small amount of the acting population.

What Do Actors Do?

Actors portray characters as written and directed by the screenplay writer and director. The goal of an actor is to convince the audience they are watching the character and believing the actor is the person.

Great actors can play a variety of different roles and be equally as convincing in each role that they are the character they are acting as. This goes outside of just being able to act, looking the part, accents, education, there are a lot of elements that help a person to be a better actor.

Actors will often do a lot of research into a role they are going to audition for. The amount of work a person is willing to put into a role will have an impact on the level of the performance. Natural ability and experience is a big factor, but hard work and determination also go a long way in this profession.

Key Duties of an Actor Include:

  • Reading scripts to look at potential acting jobs
  • Meeting with agents and managers to discuss potential roles
  • Researching the background and lifestyle of a character to be played
  • Memorize and perform script readings at auditions
  • Performing the role as per the director’s instructions

One of the most interesting elements of being an actor is working in all kinds of conditions and locations. Actors will work on either studio sets, or on location.

Desirable Skills of a Budding Actor

The nature of acting means that some people are a lot more natural at performing than others. Anyone can be an actor if it’s their chosen career path however. Here are some of the skills that are advantageous to a person looking to become an actor:

Good People Skills

It’s almost impossible for an actor not to be involved with working with other people. There is also a lot of trust and the need for good relationships between actors, and the director and other team members behind the production of play, movie, TV series, etc.

Being Reliable

Actors must be reliable. On a film set for example, if an actor doesn’t turn up or turns up late the whole production can come to a standstill. Other people cannot fill in for an actor, especially if they are one of the main roles. It’s normal practice for actors in main roles to sign a contract that doesn’t allow them to quit the project.

Good Memory and Concentration Skills

As an actor, you will be expected to remember a lot of lines. Failure to remember lines or making mistakes can prove very costly for the project and is seen as being unprofessional. Long working days and performing the same scene over and over also requires a high degree of concentration.

Being Creative

Acting is performing arts. Being naturally creative is a huge advantage and allows you to bring a lot more to a role. Some roles will give an actor a lot more room for expressing their own creativity, it’s certainly a desirable skill/trait.

what is an actor

Becoming an Actor

Becoming an Actor

Step 1: High School Requirements

High School Courses for Actors

There are four main courses you can take in high school to help you prepare for becoming an actor. These will prove very useful before the courses you will take at university or study for privately after high school.

Acting Classes

This is an obvious one. Of course, the earlier you can get experience with acting classes the better it’s going to be for your future career. Learning the fundamentals about how to read scripts, interpret the character, and work with other actors will prove to be a huge advantage and help you decide how passionate you are about acting.

Reading and History

Actors are required to do research into the characters they are going to portray. Understanding how to read well and do historical research are some of the fundamentals that make researching the role of a character a lot easier.

Musical Theater

A lot of actors start out performing on the stage. The more experience a person has with performing on the stage the more fluid and natural it becomes. Musical theater at high school provides a great platform to gain experience performing on stage and projecting your voice.

Dance Classes

Dancing, singing, and acting are the three pillars of performing arts. Being able to dance, perform, and move well is vitally important to the overall skill-set of an actor. There are other benefits, such as working in a group, scheduled performances, and working on production.

Acting Certification, Associate, Bachelor, and Degree Information

There are various levels of undergraduate and graduate degree programs for those looking to study towards becoming an actor. These are broken down as follows:

Step 2: Get an Undergraduate Degree

Acting Certificate program 4 months to 1 year

A certificate in acting allows students to gain experience by taking part in workshops, classroom studies, and practical acting.

It’s a great way for a person to familiarize themselves with a lot of acting fundamentals and helps give them a clearer picture of what to expect in this profession.


Core Courses (32 Credits)

  • Theater Appreciation
  • Vocal Production I
  • Acting I: Acting Technique
  • Vocal Physical Preparation
  • Acting II: Scene Study
  • Rehearsal and Performance
  • Advanced Problems in Acting
  • Theatre Production II

Electives (8 Credits)

  • Acting III: Acting for the Camera
  • Acting IV: Shakespeare
  • Directing: Page to Stage

The average cost of an acting certificate program is about $2,431 – $8,663.

Associate’s Degree in Acting and Theater Studies program 2 years

An associates degree in acting is designed to teach students about theater, theatrical performance, and acting in front of an audience. There will typically be workshops, lectures, involvement in live productions behind the scenes, and performing on stage.

To apply for an associate degree you may have to write an essay for acceptance to the guidelines of the college you’re applying to. You will be required to complete 48 to 60 credits before transferring to a bachelor’s program.


General Education Requirements (35 Credits)

  • Intermediate Writing–Humanities/Social Sciences
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • College Algebra for Business
  • US History to 1877
  • Ethics and Values
  • Personal Health and Wellness
  • Physical Science
  • Additional Biology or Physical Science
  • Humanities
  • Introduction to Theater

Core Courses (20 Credits)

  • Acting I
  • Stagecraft I
  • Stagecraft I Lab
  • Script and Text Analysis I
  • Theater for Children and Youth I
  • Introduction to Design for Stage and Screen
  • Introduction to Design for Stage and Screen Lab
  • Directing Actors for the Stage and Screen

Electives (8 Credits)

  • Production Projects
  • Technical Theater in Production
  • Theater Development Workshop
  • Introduction to Musical Theater Production

The average cost of an associate’s degree in acting and theater studies program is about $27,153 – $73,017

Bachelor’s in Acting and Fine Arts program 4 years

A bachelor’s program gives a student a much more comprehensive look at film and theater productions. Students are required to also study other subjects from the core group such as stagecraft, lighting, costumes, etc. at the same time.


General Education Requirements (42 Credits)

  • Writing for the Multilingual Artist
  • English Composition: Narrative Storytelling
  • Perspective Journalism
  • Art History through the 15th Century
  • Art History through the 19th Century
  • U.S. History
  • Seminar in France
  • Physics for Artists
  • Introduction to Computer Programming
  • Popular Topics in Health, Nutrition, & Physiology
  • Human-Centered Design
  • College Math
  • College Algebra with Geometry
  • Precalculus
  • Applied Physics
  • Topics in World Art
  • World Literature
  • Programming & Culture
  • Experiencing Culture: Anthropology for Today’s Artist

Core Courses (36 Credits)

  • Respect for Acting
  • Acting 1
  • Speech 1: Building the Voice
  • Improvisation 1
  • Movement: Physical Acting
  • Acting 2
  • Singing 1: Vocal Technique
  • Movement: Body Awareness and the Conscious
  • Actor
  • Acting 3
  • Speech 2: The Power of Voice
  • Improvisation 2
  • Audition Process: From Cold Readings to Callbacks

Liberal Arts (45 Credits)

  • Seminar in the Arts: Los Angeles
  • Seminar in the Arts: San Francisco
  • History of Animation
  • History & Technology of Visual Effects & Computer
  • Animation
  • Genres in Film
  • History of Opera
  • History of Fashion
  • Film History 1: Pre-1940
  • Film History 2: 1940-1974
  • Examining Film Noir
  • Evolution of the Horror Film
  • Introduction to Public Speaking
  • Creatively Speaking: Presentation for Designers
  • Film History 3: Contemporary Cinema
  • World Cinema
  • Underrated Cinema
  • Close-Up on Hitchcock
  • Exploring Science Fiction Cinema
  • Women Directors in Cinema
  • Survey of Asian Cinema

The average cost of a bachelor’s in acting and fine arts program is about $113,490 – $255,800.

Step 3: Get a Graduate Degree (Optional)

Master’s in Performing and Fine Arts Program 1 year to 3 years

Students who are able to demonstrate a high degree of talent, dedication, commitment and intelligence can take graduate-level programs. You will have completed a 4-year degree and achieved the grade point average required by the college and submitted a body of work that meets their requirements.

Completing the master’s in performing arts is incredibly challenging. There are workshops, onstage performances, classroom work, auditions, and more to be completed. It will often include working with professionals in the industry and being put to test performing on stage and on film.


  • Art of Combat for Screen and Stage
  • Graduate Improvisation Technique for Screen and Stage
  • Contemporary Drama in Context
  • Vocal Technique for Screen, Stage and Voice-over
  • Performance Styles: Classical and Period Texts
  • Advanced Voice and Speech for Live and Recorded Media
  • On-camera Performance Technique
  • Performance Styles: Realism
  • On-camera Acting Styles
  • Performance Styles: Contemporary Acting
  • Branding, Self-marketing for the Performer
  • On-camera Audition Techniques
  • Applications in Performance
  • On-camera Comedy Styles
  • Performing Arts M.F.A. Thesis

The average cost of a master’s in performing and fine arts program is about $32,248 – $124,392.

How Long Does it Take to Become an Actor and How Much Does it Cost?

Option 1 : Certificate

Degree Time Cost
Certificate 4 months to 1 year$2,431 – $8,663
Total 4 months to 1 year$2,431 – $8,663

Option 2 : Associate’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Associates Degree2 years$27,153 – $73,017
Total 2 years $27,153 – $73,017

Option 3 : Bachelor’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Bachelor’s 4 years$113,490- $255,800
Total 4 years$113,490- $255,800

Option 4 : Master’s Degree

DegreeTime Cost
Bachelor’s 4 years$113,490- $255,800
Master’s1 year to 3 years$32,248- $124,392
Total5 years to 7 years$145,738 – $380,192

Actor Training Video

Noel Griffith, Ph.D.
Noel Griffith is a Doctor of Philosophy with a strong interest in educational research. He has been an editor-in-chief of since 2014. Noel is an avid reader (non-fiction), enjoys good food, live theatre, and helping others make wiser career decisions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Find a School Near You
Try our FREE award-winning tool to find the best schools in your area.


Try Our Free Tool

Find Schools Near You