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What Should I Consider When Choosing a Career in Acting?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A career in acting is certainly an exciting prospect. From a distance, acting seems glamorous and fun, whether it’s occurring on the stage, the TV, or on a movie theater screen. Yet there are many things to consider if a person wants to pursue a career in acting and the first of these is that few actors ever gain recognition in their field. It is a career in which the level of failure is high, and its exclusivity would suggest having some back-up plans, in addition to fully preparing to be a success through extensive training.

While the dream of getting discovered with no acting training is a pleasant one, actors are usually better off if they have skill in their craft, honed through a variety of lessons. People can take lessons from acting coaches that are well known, or many head to college to get at least a bachelor’s degree in drama. Choice of college can be important and prospective students might want to choose those schools that specialize in certain forms of acting. It would make little sense to participate in a drama program focused on the theater if television or movie acting is the goal; some people find programs that focus on all three types and this may be good for well-rounded training.

On top of studying acting, those who want a want a career in acting should take every opportunity to practice their craft. This could mean participating in school plays, heading to open auditions to be extras or cast in roles for things being shot locally, and taking advantage of opportunities to be part of local theater endeavors. Each time a person acts, he or she adds something to their resume, and over time, a resume can begin to look impressive, suggesting the person has lots of experience.

During training for a career in acting, it’s not a bad idea to find an agent too, and this will have to be done eventually. People will need to pay for headshots and are likely to interview with several local or non-local agents. These people should not charge for their services and only get paid by booking paying jobs for their clients. Even if a person is still in school, it doesn’t hurt to have experience working on commercials or elsewhere, and these experiences can help fund more classes or basic living expenses. A strong agent can help provide these experiences by getting auditions for clients.

Going out on auditions also gives people an idea of what it’s like to do it for a living. It can help to learn how to take rejection, which is a common experience of the actor, and auditions give would-be career actors a sense of the difficulties involved in getting work. This leads to another suggestion for anyone considering this career.

Mathematically and by percentage, most actors will not be able to make a living by their craft. If in school or taking acting classes, it’s strongly advised people evolve another skill that can make money. This could be learning bookkeeping, bartending, secretarial work, business management, or many other things. Sometimes those who can’t act learn to teach and become passionate drama teachers at high schools or colleges.

This fallback work pays the bills. It doesn’t mean people give up pursuit of a career in acting. Finding work with good flexibility can be of use to some people, helping smart artists avoid starving while they work on realizing their dreams.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

By Ocelot60 — On Dec 22, 2014

I have a friend who wanted to be an actor, but he settled into a career as a high school drama instructor instead. He loves his job, and gets to do what he loves every day.

By Spotiche5 — On Dec 21, 2014

Anyone who wants to be an actress or actor will also have to relocate to a big city to pursue this dream. This is something to think about, especially for anyone who isn't use to big-city life.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor...
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