9 Survival Jobs that Aren’t in Retail

When it comes to survival jobs for an actor, not every opportunity is created equal. Ideally an actor could have a job with the flexibility of auditioning at unpredictable hours while making enough to support all of the classes, headshots, dental care, and the many other supplemental costs that come with this crazy career. Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world. Tell an interviewer you’re an actor and you will often get pointed straight to the door. While this is accepted in the industry as an unspoken fact, it presents a unique obstacle for the actor because as much as you may wish, your acting career may not be racking in the cash yet. If that is the case for you, keep reading for a list of jobs that could keep you afloat while you pursue your dreams.

Freelance Work

For actors with the spirit of an entrepreneur, freelance work is the perfect option. If you have expertise in technology, writing, editing, or any other digital skill set, you can make good money remotely on your own time. If this sounds too good to be true that’s because in order to make freelance work into a career, you need the determination and drive to be your own boss and not get distracted. Luckily for us actors, we certainly do not lack either of those things. It’s not easy to get started but once you develop a steady client base, freelancing can be an ideal option for actors.


Bartending is the stereotypical actor’s job for a reason. Working at night leaves your days open for auditions and training and if scheduling issues arise, it is typically easy to trade shifts with co-workers. Along with the typical ease of timing, bartending also offers the unique opportunity to work on your people skills every night. Communicating with strangers and drunk patrons on a nightly basis will surely make you more outgoing in the audition room. The tips aren’t bad either!

Overnight Work

This one might seem a little offbeat at first but hear me out. Working the night shift comes with the perk of ALWAYS having your days free for auditions and meetings. Yes, you will have to change your sleep schedule to work around this job but you will be paid back in free daylight hours as shifts usually run 10pm-6am. Also the pay for these jobs is usually significantly above minimum wage due to their unique nature. Just make sure you are in a safe environment with coworkers you trust. If you are a natural night owl willing to give up your evenings, this could prove to be the perfect job for you.


Often overlooked by actors as a viable job option, tutoring can prove to be a fruitful endeavor if approached correctly. You can typically make your own hours and earn well above minimum wage with a good tutoring job if you have expertise in subjects including math and english or tests like the SAT or ACT. You could create a freelance tutoring business as a side hustle to bring in some extra cash every month or if ease and consistency are important to you, find a tutoring company to work for. While the company will take part of your income, it may be worth it for the confidence of always being scheduled. Whichever path you decide to take, tutoring could prove to be a great survival job for an actor.

Substitute Teaching

This is a great gig for actors who have a Bachelor’s degree. Once you get the job, administration will contact you and the pool of other substitutes with openings up until the day of. This means that you can hand pick when you work to schedule around your plans for the next day. Another plus side to this job is that you will be spending a lot of time controlling kids which will help you gain composure under pressure and be a commanding presence in a room full of producers.


This job may require a little grunt work to really make good money but if you’re willing to do the work, this may be the most rewarding job on the list. First you need to pick your target students: young kids, pre-professional teens, or beginning adults are just a few options. Once you know your target, start networking online, at local schools, colleges, your neighborhood, and anywhere else you may be able to find a student. You may need to coach a few students for free at first to get some quality testimonials. If you have the gumption and drive to really make coaching work, not only can you make great money but you can also feel rewarded by your student’s success and growth everyday.

Dog Walking/Pet Care

This is another job that can either be done freelance or through a company. If you love animals this job could be an opportunity to fulfill one of your passions outside acting while still making good money. One benefit of this job is that most opportunities are in the morning or evening and it is typically easy to rearrange and schedule around your life. This would be a great job for an animal loving actor looking to make some extra cash or trying to start a side business.

Standardized Patient

This job is a little unconventional but if you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone, it could be a really rewarding opportunity for an actor. Many hospitals with student residencies use real people to practice on in their training. This is where you come in. A standardized patient is meant to simulate as real an experience for the students as possible. If you are really committed, you could use this job to work on memorization and character work while making a pretty good amount of money. Another advantage is that you get to pick when you work up until the day of. Sounds like a job tailor made for actors, right?

Personal Training

Becoming a personal trainer involves being physically active and interacting with people on a daily basis. If you love being active this could be a great job. It is relatively easy to get your training license if you have basic knowledge of fitness. The bonus with this job is that you will be in great shape without even trying and that’s always a plus as an actor. If you are a naturally active person who thrives. on seeing people make progress, this would be a great job for you!

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