If you’ve read my article on joining the union and decided that you do want to then here I’ve summarized how to do just that.
The first level of an ACTRA membership is an apprentice member. To get to this level you need one work permit which means you need a speaking role or stunt role in a production affiliated with ACTRA. Once you have that there is a $75 initiation fee as well as a 75$ annual fee to stay part of ACTRA as an apprentice.
From there you need to get 2 more work permits which means two more speaking roles or stunt roles and you can then become a full ACTRA member, there is another initiation fee and slightly higher annual fees for full members.
If you are a canadian citizen and a full member of Canadian Actors Equity Association (CAEA), Screen Actors Guild (SAG) or the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) you are also eligible to become a full member of ACTRA.
ACTRA also has a background performers option for people who want to be professional background performers. To become an ACTRA background performer you need to have worked 24 days out of the last twelve months. Once a member you must work at least 15 days a year to maintain your status. If you’ve worked 200 days or 1600 hours over the last four years you are eligible to apply to the apprentice membership option.
I don’t see the value in becoming an ACTRA background performer because that means you are only able to work on ACTRA affiliated productions. As a non-union member you are able to do paid extra work for any productions which is a slightly larger pool of work.