Actors and Actresses will work in theatres, television, radio and film; they will use speech, movement and expression to bring characters to life. Some actors do voice-overs for animated projects, record audio books and are part of television commercials. Salary and hours can vary enormously, unsociable hours may be expected. Most actors sign-up with an agent who will negotiate wages.
There are various ways in which you can get into this job role and the entry requirements can vary depending on what you choose to do:
A College course
There is no set entry route to become an actor but it may be useful to do a relevant subject like:
- Level 2 Technical Certificate in Performing Arts
- Level 3 Extended Diploma in Performing Arts - Acting
- A level in Drama and Theatre
- Level 4 Diploma in Speech and Drama
You'll usually need:
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
- 1 or 2 A levels, a level 3 diploma or relevant experience for a level 4 or level 5 course
The following local colleges offer courses in actor/actress:
- City College Norwich
- East Coast College
- One Sixth Form College
- Suffolk New College
- The College of West Anglia
- West Suffolk College
Or you could see if your local Sixth Form offers an A-Level for Drama.
A University course
You could do a foundation degree, degree or postgraduate diploma in drama, or other relevant subject like:
- performance studies
- contemporary theatre and performance
- musical theatre
You'll usually need:
- to pass an audition
- at least 1 A level, or equivalent, for a foundation degree
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
- a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
Click here to search for a suitable course.
A course at drama school
You can study with a private drama school or conservatoire. Many offer full-time courses, as well as short courses and summer schools.
You'll need to pass an audition to get into a drama school. You may also need A levels or a Level 3 Diploma in Performing Arts, though this is not always essential if you can show enough talent and commitment.
You may be able to get funding to help with fees and living costs at a private drama school.
Although this job role does not require formal qualifications, we highly recommend that you try to achieve at least a grade 4 (C) in English & Maths. Achieving this minimum grade in these subject will increase opportunities in the future and help with your career development and prospects.
If you don't achieve the minimum grades, you will be supported to continue to study English and Maths throughout your full-time education or an apprenticeship.
Acting is very competitive and you'll need to develop your skills by getting as much practical experience as possible.
You should do volunteering and get experience, such as:
- School performances
- amateur, community or youth theatre
- school, college and university drama societies
- student drama festivals and competitions
This can also help to put you in touch with people in the acting profession, who could be useful contacts when looking for work.
Career Path and Progression
If you can show an agent you have potential they may put you forward for auditions and castings. Agents usually take a fee of about 10% to 25% from your earnings.
You could take further training and move into directing, scriptwriting, drama therapy or teaching.
Related careers you may be interested in:
- Community arts worker
- Entertainment agent
- Creative flair
- The ability to analyse scripts and to memorise dialogue
- Self discipline
- Good communication and listening skills