Film and Acting Careers

Read on to learn about typical courses, resources, and careers in this field.

Staff Writer

2022-12-0315 min read

A successful career in film and acting requires two things, talent and skill. The first ability is innate, while you need to learn and cultivate the second one.

Most actors and filmmakers begin their careers with formal training from art schools and theater programs. They learn how to hone their talents and express their passion for cinema through various forms in these institutions.

This guide provides valuable insight into careers in the film industry, degree programs, salaries, job outlook, and other helpful information.

Why Choose Film and Acting?

The film industry is an ever-expanding creative hub that constantly needs new talent to fuel it.

This field is multifaceted, so you can explore multiple film careers, from acting to screenwriting and directing.

A career in film and acting allows you to explore your creativity and talents to the fullest.

So, it’s best to understand this field before exploring this lucrative career option.

How to Start your Film and Acting Journey

Earning a college education is an excellent start to your preferred career path. It paves the way for successful film careers in showbiz and the entertainment industry.

You can earn an acting or film degree from a top film school or college of cinematic arts today.

Many aspiring actors take acting classes and participate in formal training to prepare for different roles.

Educational Requirements

Associate Degree

Students can earn associate degrees in film and acting to prepare for roles like sound engineering technicians, equipment managers, or broadcast technicians.

Some film schools offer theory-based courses like cinematography and more targeted acting classes for students to develop a deeper understanding of the field.

Bachelor’s Degree

Students in this program will learn the necessary skills to work on various productions, including on-screen and backstage.

It prepares them for careers like screenwriting, special effects artists, editors, directors, and more.

You can earn a bachelor’s degree from a film school and enroll in an acting class to explore these career paths.

Master’s Degree

A master's degree in film and acting fast-tracks your route to high-paying executive roles in the entertainment industry. This program teaches advanced film theories, storyboarding, production techniques, film aesthetics, and business strategies.

You can choose a specialty field like screenwriting and directing to prepare for leadership roles.

Doctorate in Film and Acting

This terminal degree is suitable for students interested in film analysis and production. Since this program leads to more academic than professional roles, professionals in this field focus more on developing theories and knowledge.

Doctoral students examine films in historical, cultural, and philosophical contexts.

Employment Prospects

Film majors and aspiring actors can work with production companies, film studios, advertising agencies, and more.

While some professionals are lucky enough to get their big breaks fresh out of college, some other actors find it harder. And thanks to the competitive nature of this field, many actors need a day job to pay the bills.

Film and Acting Career Forecast

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, film and acting roles enjoy steady growth thanks to multiple productions from different studios.

The department projects an 8% growth for actors, producers, and directors within the next decade and over 24,000 job openings for these professions.

Film editors and camera operators have over 9,000 openings annually and enjoy a 12% growth from 2021 to 2031.

The rise of streaming services and online-only platforms led to a growing number of films and television shows produced yearly.

Lucrative Film and Acting Career Paths

Film and acting students can explore some of these successful career options.


Actors play characters on screen and entertain an audience with their acting or dancing skills. An actor's job involves bringing a scripted character or piece of literary fiction to life and captivating their viewers.

Average Salary

Many actors’ salaries depend on various factors like years of experience, production budget, film industry, etc. However, a professional actor in the US earns an average salary of around $56,000, with some making over $100,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Audition for roles in front of casting directors and producers
  • Actors portray characters and entertain an audience
  • Research a role and memorize their lines
  • Work with other aspiring actors and performers

Industries Employing Actor/Performers

  • The entertainment industry
  • Performing arts companies
  • Motion picture and video industries

Film Screenwriter

Screenwriters develop written content and scripts into feature films and movies. These professionals work in the film industry and adapt an existing story or original idea into a screenplay for television or the big screen.

Average Salary

Screenwriters earn median annual salaries of around $50,000, with some professionals making over $100,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Write scripts for television shows, films, and other media forms
  • Develop plot and characters for a feature film
  • Work with directors and producers to execute a script

Industries Employing Film Screenwriters

  • Motion picture and video industries
  • Performing arts companies
  • Cable and subscription programming

Casting Director

Casting directors discover and select actors for movie roles, television shows, and other productions. They hold auditions and interview candidates to evaluate their acting abilities.

Average Salary

These professionals earn around $79,000 in median wages, with the highest 10% earning over $200,000 yearly.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Hold auditions for prospective roles
  • Oversee the casting process and uphold the director’s vision
  • Post acting roles and positions on casting websites
  • Work with the director and producers to ensure everything goes smoothly on the film set

Industries Employing Casting Directors

  • Motion Picture and Video Industries
  • Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers
  • Performing Arts Companies

Stage Actor (Theater Actor)

Stage actors perform plays and other stage productions, such as cabaret shows, skits, and dinner theater, in front of a live audience.

Many actors start their acting careers in drama clubs or school plays and proceed to work in community theaters after graduation.

Average Salary

A professional actor earns around $53,000 in median wages, at about $30/hour.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Audition for roles in front of directors and producers
  • Read scripts and rehearse lines
  • Work with other actors to portray characters
  • Learn new skills for specific roles

Industries Employing Stage Actors

  • Performing Arts Companies
  • Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers
  • Museums, Historical Sites, and Similar Institutions

Broadcast Technician

Broadcast technicians operate and manage equipment for television and radio broadcasts, movie sets, and recording studios. These professionals work with different electronic and recording equipment.

Average Salary

Broadcast technicians earn around $48,000 in median wages, with the highest 10% making over $96,000 yearly.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Regulate the signal strength, color, and sound ranges for TV broadcasts
  • Manage equipment records and audio/video recordings
  • Perform routine repairs
  • Set up equipment for live performances and events

Industries Employing Broadcast Technicians

  • Motion Picture and Video Industries
  • Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services
  • Radio and Television Broadcasting
  • Cable and Other Subscription Programming

Film/TV Producer

Film/TV producers handle the business side of movies and other media productions. They work with acting studios to create television shows, films, and stage productions and make financial decisions for the project.

Average Salary

Film/TV producers earn over $70,000 in median wages, with the top percentile making over $130,000 yearly.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Secure funds for movie projects
  • Oversee film production and budgets
  • Producers work with directors to ensure movie projects stay on schedule
  • Promote a television show or movie through film festivals, interviews, and advertisements

Industries Employing Film/TV Producers

  • Motion Picture and Video Industries
  • Radio and Television Broadcasting
  • Cable and Other Subscription Programming

Sound Engineering Technician

These professionals use their technical knowledge and expertise to manipulate and produce sounds for films and other media productions.

Most sound engineering technicians undergo professional training to handle specific equipment.

Average Salary

Sound engineering technicians earn average salaries of around $67,000, with the top percentile earning over $120,000 yearly.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Record and mix sound for television or film production
  • Handle audio post-production for television and radio artists
  • Maintain and repair equipment
  • Monitor audio signals and detect deviations in sound quality

Industries Employing Sound Engineering Technicians

  • Broadcasting and Advertising (Television or Radio)
  • Sound Recording Industries
  • Promoters of Performing Arts, Sports, and Similar Events

Camera Operator

These professionals work on movie and television sets to capture and edit footage for film production companies. They work with various technical equipment, including portable cameras, cranes, mobile mountings, and digital and remote-control cameras.

Average Salary

Camera operators earn median wages of around $49,000, with the highest 10% making over $100,000 yearly.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Capture images and videos for the silver screen
  • Coordinate with directors to fulfill a project’s creative vision
  • Follow camera scripts and organize digital footage
  • Edit scenes according to the director’s ideals

Industries Employing Camera Operators

  • Radio and Television Broadcasting
  • Motion Picture and Video Industries
  • Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services

Audio/Visual Equipment Technician

These professionals set up, test, and repair audio/visual equipment for multimedia projects, broadcast media, and the motion picture and video industries. In addition, they work with directors and producers to manage equipment inventory and fix other issues.

Average Salary

Audio/visual equipment technicians earn around $40,000 to $54,000 in median annual wages. However, this range increases according to experience level and skills.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Install and operate audio and video equipment
  • Provide technical assistance for television shows
  • Work with the sales team and creatives to establish staging designs and specifications
  • Troubleshoot and repair cameras, projectors, sound system components, and more.

Industries Employing Audio/Visual Equipment Technicians

  • Sound Recording Industries
  • Motion Picture and Video Industries
  • Performing Arts and Similar Events
  • Legal Services

Film and Video Editor

These professionals cut and edit movies, music videos, and other recorded materials for media productions.

Film and video editors understand filmmaking and can handle digital cameras and different video editing software. These editors are essential to any film production because they assemble moving images and string together raw footage.

Average Salary

Film and video editors earn average salaries of around $76,000, at $36.54/hour.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Organize and edit video footage with editing software
  • Add special effects when necessary
  • Synchronize uncut files and sound
  • Write commentary/voiceovers

Industries Employing Film and Video Editors

  • Motion Picture and Video Industries
  • Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers
  • Cable and Other Subscription Programming

Special Effects (SFX) Artists and Animators

These multimedia artists create special effects and animation for movies and TV shows.

You can enjoy a lucrative career in the media and entertainment industries by augmenting your film degree with computer graphics courses.

Average Salary

SFX artists and animators earn around $78,000 in median wages, with the top 10% making over $130,000 yearly.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Create 2D and 3D models, visual effects, and CGI for different media forms
  • Work with other illustrators and animators to design graphics and animation
  • Follow the editor's feedback during post-production edits

Industries Employing Special Effects (SFX) Artists and Animators

  • Motion Picture and Video Industries
  • Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers
  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services


Cinematographers oversee the visual dynamics and tone in movies, television, commercials, and other media productions. They act as the director's eyes and bring their vision to life by choosing the proper filming techniques.

Average Salary

Cinematographers earn around $59,000 in median annual salaries.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Edit visual elements and handle other post-production issues
  • Supervise and manage the camera crew
  • Gather equipment and set up shots
  • Collaborate with the director

Industries Employing Cinematographers

  • Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services
  • Information Media and Telecommunications
  • Motion Picture and Video Industries

Film Director

Film directors have ultimate control over movie projects, from a single feature film to documentaries and television shows. They also oversee and manage the actors, camera crew, film production, and other creative issues.

Average Salary

Film directors earn around $72,000 in median wages, with top earners making over $150,000 yearly.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Make extensive notes and adjustments to scripts
  • Direct film crews and ensure actors portray characters effectively
  • Work with set designers and art directors to create film sets
  • Oversee post-production and final edits

Industries Employing Film Directors

  • Motion Picture and Video Industries
  • Performing Arts Companies
  • Cable and Other Subscription Programming

Costume Designer

Costume designers handle the wardrobe and outfits for movies, television, stage plays, and other media productions.

While some productions require these designers to follow strict guidelines, others allow them to show more creativity.

Average Salary

Costume designers make around $15 per hour, with some productions paying more than $34. places their average yearly wages at about $38,000 to $45,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Oversee stage and costume design for actors
  • Coordinate with the film director, hair stylists, makeup artists, and other creatives
  • Create costumes for many actors and entertainers

Industries Employing Costume Designers

  • Performing Arts Companies
  • Motion Picture and Video Industries
  • Clothing Stores

Film Makeup Artist

These professional makeup artists design a character’s look by applying makeup or prosthetics to actors on a television show or movie.

They ensure the actors look flawless on screen while portraying their characters.

Average Salary

Film makeup artists earn average salaries of around $48,000, with some professionals earning more than $130,000 yearly.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Create special makeup and effects with latex masks and prosthetics
  • Work with hairstylists and costume designers to design a cohesive look
  • Make preparatory sketches for actors following character descriptions
  • Help actors remove makeup after filming

Industries Employing Film Makeup Artists

  • Motion Picture and Video Industries
  • Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services
  • Radio and Television Broadcasting

Props Master

A props master is responsible for acquiring and organizing the right props for a movie or television production.

They research the characters and script to determine the best props and design for different scenes.

Average Salary

These professionals earn around $60,000 in median annual wages, at $30/hour.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Coordinate with art directors and production designers to decide on props to use on set
  • Oversee the props department
  • Teach actors to handle props safely
  • Monitor safe prop usage

Industries Employing Props Masters

  • Movie Theaters and Motion Picture Industries
  • Cable and Other Subscription Programming
  • Advertising, Public Relations, and Marketing

How to Boost your Film and Acting Career

The fastest way to boost your film career is with a professional portfolio and relevant experience. It shows your skills and helps you stand out from the competition.

You may require certifications or licensure for some professions like screenwriting, special effects artists, equipment technicians, etc.

The right educational credentials from accredited bodies can enhance your resume and teach new tricks to impress employers.

Pros and Cons of Film and Acting Careers

A career in film and acting has lucrative benefits and options for college students, from portraying interesting characters to directing and producing blockbuster films. However, it also has a few downsides.


  • Experiencing new and exciting work environments
  • High earning potentials
  • Working with celebrities and influential people
  • Travel opportunities


  • It requires creativity and talent
  • Lack of job security
  • Limited job roles and low pay at the start of your career
  • Long work hours

Skills You’ll Develop While Studying Film and Acting

These valuable skills help you excel in your chosen career path.

Communication Skills

Since you’ll work with different professionals and many actors, you’ll need to hone this skill to avoid miscommunications and delays. As such, you should ensure everyone understands your creative vision by communicating in clear and precise language.

Leadership Skills

Directors, producers, and cinematographers oversee production issues and manage creative teams. It’s a big responsibility that requires strong leadership abilities and influence over others.

Management Skills

Directors and producers require adequate management skills since they shoulder the production's creative and financial burdens. Poor management can have disastrous consequences on the movie's production.

Computer Skills

Technical and software skills are essential for editors, camera operators, and other post-production crew members. You must stay ahead of trends and become familiar with tools like Final Cut Pro, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, and more.


A performer must have impressive acting skills and talent to stand out from the competition. It’s almost impossible to succeed in the movie industry without creativity.

How to Prepare for a Film and Acting Career

1. Get a Formal Education in Film and Acting

Enroll in an acting school and get formal training. A beginner-level course will teach you the nuances of portraying different characters and how to tell captivating stories.

Most accredited colleges and art schools offer acting classes and film programs from the associate level to postgraduate degrees.

2. Specialize your Skills

After graduating from an acting school, you can work on your acting techniques and skills. Then, you can hire an acting coach or join talent agencies to prepare for auditions and minor roles.

3. Build your Resume

Join a small-budget production or local theater to gain as much exposure as possible. Audition for cameos in movies and TV shows and add them to your resume or portfolio.

4. Attend Workshops

You can attend film festivals and workshops to network with industry professionals. For example, The Screen Actors Guild exposes aspiring actors and independent producers to professional training, film discounts, and other opportunities.

Film and Acting Resources to Help Your Career

Film students and actors can benefit from valuable resources like professional organizations, online publications and courses, and film journals to advance their careers.

Organizations such as SAG-AFTRA, the Motion Picture Association, the Directors Guild of America, and the American Film Institute offer scholarships, union benefits, networking opportunities, and more. They also help with contract negotiations, health insurance discounts, and legal aid.

You can also explore film study and theory courses from schools like Stanford and MIT that cover film production techniques and politics.

How to Switch to a Film and Acting Career

Anyone can transition from a non-film background and enjoy a successful career. You may only need additional training and acting classes to improve your knowledge in certain areas.

Art and music majors can also switch to film and acting roles and offer valuable services to television productions and media houses.

Professionals can explore bridge or transition programs to gain relevant education or experience in this field.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are film and acting?

A film or motion picture is a visual art form that communicates stories and ideas through moving images and sounds. Acting portrays these stories and perceptions with the help of actors and performers.

What certification do I need for a film and acting career?

While most acting roles only require talent and significant work experience, some technical positions demand certifications and licensure.

Some of them include,

Can I get a film and acting degree online?

Yes, you can.

Many accredited acting and film schools offer distance learning and online programs for talented students.

What fields can film and acting professionals work in?

Film and acting graduates can work as actors, screenwriters, directors, editors, sound technicians, cinematographers, and more. As a result, these professionals can work in feature films, television broadcasting, advertising, or other independent productions.

Is there a high demand for film and acting majors?

The Labor Department projects an 8% growth for actors, producers, and directors within the next decade and over 24,000 job openings for these professions.

Similar film industry careers also have high demand and record significant job openings yearly.

Final Thoughts

Talent and creativity play vital roles in the film and entertainment industry, same with education and formal training. As a result, professionals in this lucrative field can sharpen their skill sets with the proper guidance and mentorship opportunity.

So, do you wish to explore this prestigious career path and join the growing ranks of famous actors and filmmakers?

This guide has you covered.

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