That is the 2012 annual median member earnings for the professional theater union Actors Equity Association (AEA). Let me show you that again in case you missed it:


I always like to post this number at the end of the year to provide a refreshing splash of water on the face for all of those toiling away on the boards.

And remember, these are the supposed “professionals”.

Here are some other fun numbers.

Of the working AEA members this is how their annual income breaks down as it pertains to salary and the percentage of the membership that is earning that salary in 2012:

6% – $75,000+ 

4% – $50,000 – $75,000

11% – $25,000 – $50,000

10% – $15,000 – $25,000

29% – $5,000 – $15,000

39% – $1 – $5,000

Fairly comparable to most any other industry in America, I suppose, as far as the breakdown in income, but man, those salary numbers, paltry at best.

But that is the vocation you have chosen, my friends. At least some of you have. It’s important you know what the numbers are.


Happy New Year.

Filed Under: colin mitchellFeaturedPonderings


Colin Mitchell About the Author: COLIN MITCHELL: Actor/Writer/Director/Producer/Father, award-winning playwright and screenwriter, Broadway veteran, Marvel comics scribe, Van Morrison disciple, Zen-Catholic, a proud U.S. Army Brat conceived in Scotland and born in Frankfurt, Germany, currently living in Los Angeles and doing his best to piss off as many people as possible.

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  1. Dennis Baker says:

    Interesting commet from Dr. Scott Walters (http://theatreideas.blogspot.com/) who has researched this topic:

    “Actually this is the annual Median member earnings for AEA members who WORKED last year. The Median members earnings for ALL members was ZERO because almost 60% didn’t make a dime. So educators who teach in a program marketed as “pre-professional”: doesn’t there need to be a profession before there can be a pre-professional program? And other Theatre people: shouldn’t this lead to some serious questioning of business models rather than magical thinking?”

  2. Colin Mitchell Colin Mitchell says:

    Yep. Both Dr. Scott and Professor Tom Loughlin (amongst others) have been talking about this for a while now: the basic farce of the professional graduate acting program. The comment has much merit. And yet, we still persist.