How much can you make in your acting career depends on a lot of factors. This is because not every film made is a box office hit which is why the earnings of some are erratic and these individuals have to supplement their income through other means.
In 2006, the median hourly salary of most actors was close to $12. Majority earned around $8 to $22 while those in the higher levels earned a little over $51. Because most of these projects are short term, it is difficult to determine how much you actually learn on a given year.
If you are in demand right now, producers and directors will call you up while you are working on a current project.
The one who sets the standards in terms of how much a stage actor earns depends on the Actor’s Equity Association while the Screen Actor’s Guild will cover those working in movies, television and commercials. If you happen to be a radio studio performer, the one handling that will be the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
In short, you have to join a union in order to have an acting career. But this does not mean that you can’t negotiate for a higher salary if you feel you deserve it. Some are members of two or three of them at the same time because they work in several media.
Actors who are members of either SAG or AFTRA earn a minimum daily rate of $759 or $2,634 for a week. They will also receive contributions to their health and pension plans as well as compensation for reruns and foreign telecasts of the productions in which they appear. There will also be paid vacations and sick leave which is something you contributed to.
If you happen to have a job in Broadway, as of June 2007, you can earn about $1,509 a week. Actors in Off-Broadway theaters will earn from $516 to $976 a week and this depends on the seating capacity of the theater.
For those working in regional theaters, you could earn $544 to $840 per week. Should you go on tour, there is an additional allowance of $113 per day for living expenses which could go up to $119 depending on the cost of living of the city you are visiting.
Not every actor working in Hollywood earns above the minimum and if you are just starting out, the same thing is going to happen to you. In fact, many of SAG members only earn an annual salary of $5,000 per year so they have to find other ways to supplement their low incomes.
It takes a while before your acting career really gets off the ground when all you have done in the past is play as an extra or have a supporting role. If you think about it that is where everyone started because you have to prove your worth to the producers and directors who makes shows and movies.
Remember that every time they have a project, they expect it to do well with the public. This may not always mean an Academy award or a Grammy. With that, the sky is the limit when it comes to how much you can really make during your acting career.