The salary of a TV actor

Written by wanda thibodeaux
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The salary of a TV actor
Actors must be comfortable getting physically into character. (K-King Photography Media Co. Ltd/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Actors can work in a variety of venues such as theatres and clubs, but some opt to pursue television work. Most of these actors become members of the Screen Actors Guild, an actors' union which sets minimum rates for its members, therefore offering some salary and wage protection. Minimums depend on how long the actor works, the length of the program and what skills the actor may bring to the screen.

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Day and Weekly Performers

General performers who work in a TV program on a daily agreement but who don't have lead roles make a minimum of £525 per day based on the Screen Actors Guild 2010 rates. The base rate for these actors per week is £1,825. Actors who can do stunts earn the same daily pay but get slightly more per week -- a minimum of £1,959 -- than general performers. Pilots, who may help camera operators get footage from the air or play roles where aviation is necessary, may earn a minimum between £602 to £1,959, depending on where they must fly and whether they work daily or weekly.

Some actors work on three-day agreements. Performers and singers in this category make £1,330 for a 30-minute or one hour program. Stunt performers make slightly more at £1,437. If actors can do general performance, singing and stunts, they earn £1,565.

Major Role Actors

Actors who land a major role in a TV program have a minimum rate of £2,892 for a 30-minute program. This is equal to 10 per cent above those working through daily agreements and assumes five days of work on the show. If the program is an hour long, the minimum rate is £4,627, or 10 per cent above the rate for those working under daily agreements, assuming 8 work days on the show.

Multiple Picture Actors

Multiple picture actors -- those who are involved in more than one television program at a time -- earn minimums between £1,352 and £1,872, depending on the length of the television shows. For those who can do stunts or act as pilots, the minimum rates are between £2,158 and £2,656, according to the show length.

Series Actors

Some actors have roles in series programs, which generally means a guarantee of more work hours. The minimum rate for these actors is between £1,825 for a half-an-hour series to £4,941 for two or more series that combine half-an-hour, hour or two-hour formats.

Singers and Dancers

Actors who sing earn between £325 to £568 a day if they appear on camera. For off-camera work lasting at least four hours, the range is £258 to £568. Weekly rates for singing actors are between £1,522 and £1,825. Where an actor falls in these ranges depends on whether the actor is singing with others. Soloists make the most money, while chorus members make the least. Those who mouth songs do not make as much as those who actually sing.


Actors who dance earn a minimum rate of £308 for rehearsals. For performances, daily rates are between £402 and £525. Weekly rates are between £1,409 and £1,690. As with singing actors, the minimum rates dancing actors can get depends on whether they are working alone or in a group, with those in groups earning less.

Term Actors

Some television contracts hire actors on a term basis. This usually happens when a producer and director know they will need the actor for several weeks. Term actors earn at least between £702 and £1,565 per week, depending on the length of the term and whether the actor is considered beginning -- that is, having less than a year of experience -- or non-beginning.

Rerun Ceilings and Additional Earnings

Television programs frequently continue to air even after production on the program ends. Actors are entitled to income from the reruns that air. Minimums are between £1,578 for a 30-minute program to £2,764 for a program more than two hours.

In addition to rerun income, actors may get additional money from other sales. For instance, they may earn money from the sale of show memorabilia such as T-shirts, soundtracks and other items. Some television actors work in venues other than television, such as in live theatre. Because actors may negotiate rates for every job they take, they are not limited to the minimums set by SAG.

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