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How to Become a Voice Actor

By Andrea Delgado

Published:

Do you possess a gift for captivating storytelling, a knack for mimicry, or a voice that commands attention? If so, have you ever considered channeling your skills and passions into the mesmerizing world of voice acting? This article delves into the essential steps and insights on how to get into voice acting and voice acting tips. We’ll explore the intricacies of this field, focusing on practical guidance for those aspiring to become a voice actor.

Career Summary

Voice Actor Salary

Voice Actor Salary

A voice acting salary can fluctuate considerably due to various factors. A broad summary of salary ranges, based on data sourced from glassdoor.com, encompasses a spectrum from entry-level to senior positions:

  • Entry Salary (US$52k)
  • Median Salary (US$68k)
  • Executive Salary (US$89k)

Notably, the median voice acting salary is slightly higher than the national average income in the US, which was US$61,900 in 2022, according to data from the BLS.

What does a Voice Actor do?

Voice actors breathe life into beloved animated and video game characters, and they lend their voices to radio, TV ads, audiobooks, and film trailers. While they may not be visible on screen, these professionals skillfully convey the emotions of characters or promote products using the power of their voices.

Voice Actor Career Progression

  • Voice Acting Trainee: Aspiring voice actors typically begin by building their skills, which involves practicing various vocal techniques, learning to control their voice, and developing versatility in portraying different characters and emotions.
  • Freelance Voice Actor: After building essential skills, voice actors are taking on a variety of voiceover projects, often starting with smaller, low-paying gigs. Building a portfolio, recording demos, and seeking representation.
  • Professional Voice Actor: Advancement in the field often involves securing representation by a talent agent, who can help voice actors land more significant and higher-paying roles. Voice actors may also expand their expertise by specializing in particular niches, such as animation, video games, audiobooks, or dubbing.
  • Lead Voice Actor: At the senior level, successful voice actors enjoy a steady flow of work, often lending their voices to major productions and earning substantial incomes.
  • Voice Acting Director or Coach: Experienced voice actors may also take on mentorship roles,  guiding and coaching other voice actors. They may also direct voice actors in projects, oversee casting, and shape the creative vision of productions.
Voice Actor Career Progression

The Pros and Cons of Working as a Voice Actor

Pros:

  • Creativity and Versatility
  • Flexibility
  • Diverse Opportunities
  • Potential for Recognition
  • Lifelong Learning

Cons:

  • Fierce Competition
  • Inconsistent Income
  • Audition Rejection
  • Vocal Strain
  • Isolation

Useful Skills to Have as a Voice Actor

  • Versatility
  • Acting Skills
  • Voice Control
  • Diction and Pronunciation
  • Breathing Techniques

Popular Voice Actor Specialties

  • Animation and Cartoons
  • Video Games
  • Commercial Voice Over
  • Audiobook Narration
  • Dubbing and Localization

How to become a Voice Actor

Voice Actor 5 Steps to Career

Step 1: Training and Skill Development

In the journey to becoming a voice actor, training and skill development are the essential first steps. This phase involves honing your vocal abilities, mastering various accents and character voices, and understanding the nuances of script interpretation. It’s where you lay the foundation for a successful career in the industry.

To get into voice-acting:

  • Take acting and voice acting classes to hone your craft.
  • Practice regularly to improve your vocal range and clarity.

What Skills Will I Learn as a Voice Actor?

To excel as a voice actor, you should develop a range of skills that go beyond just having a pleasant voice.

Here are some useful skills to have as a voice actor:

  • Versatility: Being able to adapt your voice to a wide range of characters, ages, accents, and emotions is crucial. Versatility allows you to tackle a variety of roles effectively. For most professional voice actors, getting hired requires versatility in addition to a pleasant voice. Most voice actors use several voices and accents for various characters. Some actors have enough voices to play multiple roles on the same project.
  • Acting Skills: Strong acting abilities are essential for bringing characters to life convincingly. Understanding how to convey emotions, motivations, and intentions through your voice is paramount.
  • Voice Control: A voice actor must have excellent control over their vocal instrument. This includes modulation, pitch control, pacing, and the ability to maintain consistency during long recording sessions.
  • Diction and Pronunciation: Clear diction and proper pronunciation are vital for delivering lines that are easily understood by the audience. Enunciation and articulation are key.
  • Breathing Techniques: Proper breathing techniques help sustain your voice and maintain energy during long recording sessions. Breathing control is crucial for delivering lines without sounding out of breath.
  • Emotional Range: Developing a broad emotional range allows you to convincingly portray a spectrum of emotions, from joy and excitement to sadness and anger.
  • Listening Skills: Listening attentively to direction from directors and producers is essential. The ability to take feedback and adjust your performance accordingly is crucial for success.
  • Script Analysis: Understanding the script, its context, and the character’s motivations is essential for delivering a nuanced performance. Analyzing the text helps you make informed choices about how to deliver lines.
  • Adaptability: The voice acting industry can be unpredictable, and you may encounter unexpected challenges. Being adaptable and open to changes in direction or script revisions is valuable.
  • Networking: Becoming a successful voice actor, like other jobs in entertainment, requires strong networking skills. Building relationships within the industry can lead to more opportunities. Networking with directors, producers, and fellow voice actors can open doors to new projects. The voice-acting community is relatively small and can be difficult to break into. Frequently submitting demo tapes to directors and auditioning for them is vital.
  • Technical Proficiency: Familiarity with recording equipment and software is beneficial for recording demos. Additionally, if you’re working remotely from a home studio, knowing how to set up and deliver high-quality audio is crucial.
  • Time Management: Managing your time effectively is essential, especially when juggling multiple auditions and recording sessions. Meeting deadlines is crucial to maintaining a professional reputation.
  • Marketing and Self-Promotion: Understanding how to market yourself as a voice actor is important. Creating a professional website, utilizing social media, and showcasing your work in a compelling portfolio can help attract clients and agents.

Do I Need a Degree to Become a Voice Actor?

No, you do not typically need a formal degree to become a voice actor. Unlike some professions that require specific educational qualifications, voice acting is primarily skill-based, and success in this field is determined by your talent, training, experience, and networking. However, having a background in acting, theater, or communications can be beneficial and may provide you with valuable skills and insights that can enhance your voice acting career. Many professional voice actors have also been trained as stage actors. A background in stage acting, although not mandatory, provides performance experience and teaches voice actors how to develop characters.

Can I Become a Voice Actor through Online Education?

Yes, you can become a voice actor through online education and training. Online resources have become increasingly popular and accessible for aspiring voice actors.

Here’s how you can pursue a voice acting career through online education:

  • Voice Acting Classes and Workshops: Many reputable voice acting coaches and schools offer online classes and workshops. These can cover a wide range of topics, from vocal techniques to script interpretation. Look for courses that suit your needs and schedule.
  • Online Communities: Join online voice-acting communities, forums, and social media groups. These platforms often provide valuable advice, resources, and networking opportunities. You can connect with experienced voice actors and learn from their insights.
  • Voice Acting Websites: Websites like Voices.com, Voice123, and Backstage often have audition listings and educational resources for voice actors. You can find audition opportunities and access tips and tutorials.
  • Online Acting Schools: Consider enrolling in online acting schools or programs that include voice acting components. Learning acting skills can be highly beneficial for voice actors.
  • Books and E-books: There are many books and e-books available on voice acting, providing in-depth guidance on techniques, business aspects, and industry insights. You can access these resources online or through e-book platforms.

While traditional in-person training can be valuable, online education and resources have become a viable and convenient way to start and advance your voice acting career. It’s important to do your research and choose reputable online courses and platforms to ensure you receive quality training and guidance.

Step 2. Portfolio Building

Creating a compelling voice acting portfolio is crucial for showcasing your talent to potential clients and agents. You can record and showcase your voiceover demos online by creating a professional website or using platforms like SoundCloud to share your work with potential clients and agents.

Additionally, you can gain experience through internships or by taking on unpaid projects for your portfolio.

What are Internship Opportunities for a Voice Actor?

Internship opportunities specifically tailored for voice actors are relatively rare, as the voice acting profession is primarily freelance-based.

However, there are several related internship opportunities and experiences that can be beneficial for aspiring voice actors:

  • Studio Internship: Consider interning at a recording studio, particularly one that specializes in audio production, voiceovers, or post-production work. This experience can provide valuable insights into the industry, recording processes, and studio etiquette.
  • Radio Stations: Interning at a radio station can offer exposure to broadcasting and voice work. You might assist with recording voiceovers for commercials or announcements, giving you hands-on experience.
  • Theater Internship: Working as an intern at a theater can help you develop acting skills and provide opportunities for vocal performance. This can enhance your versatility as a voice actor.
  • Media Production Companies: Interning at media production companies or multimedia agencies can expose you to various aspects of the entertainment industry, including voiceover work for videos, animations, and advertisements.
  • Online Content Creation: Offer your services as an intern or apprentice to established content creators on platforms like YouTube, podcasting, or social media. This can help you gain experience in voice work and exposure to a broader audience.
  • Community Theater: Participate in community theater productions, which often require volunteer actors. This can help you practice your acting and voice skills while building a performance portfolio.
  • Voiceover Coaches and Studios: Some voiceover coaches and studios may offer apprenticeships or mentorship programs where you can learn directly from experienced professionals in a hands-on setting.
  • Voice Acting Workshops and Classes: While not traditional internships, enrolling in voice acting workshops or classes with experienced instructors can provide valuable practical experience and networking opportunities.
  • Volunteer Work: Consider volunteering your voice for charitable organizations, non-profits, or community events. This can help you build a portfolio while contributing to a good cause.
  • Online Platforms: Offer your voice acting services on online platforms like Fiverr or Upwork as an entry-level voice actor. While not internships in the traditional sense, these platforms can help you gain experience and build a client base.

While voice acting internships may be limited, these related opportunities can provide you with valuable experience, networking connections, and a chance to hone your skills. As you build your portfolio and gain experience, you’ll be better equipped to pursue paid voice-acting opportunities in the future.

Step 3. Networking and Representation

Establish and nurture connections within the industry. Networking can lead to valuable opportunities, mentorship, and representation by talent agencies.

Top Industries That Hire Voice Actors

Voice actors find employment opportunities in various industries that rely on their skills to bring characters, scripts, and narratives to life.

Here are some of the top industries that frequently hire voice actors:

  • Entertainment and Media: This includes animation studios, film production companies, video game developers, and streaming platforms. Voice actors provide character voices for animated movies, TV shows, video games, and web series.
  • Advertising and Marketing: Advertising agencies and marketing firms hire voice actors for radio and television commercials, online advertisements, promotional videos, and voiceovers for marketing campaigns.
  • Audiobook Publishing: Publishing companies and online audiobook platforms employ voice actors to narrate audiobooks, making written content accessible in an audio format.
  • E-Learning and Education: E-learning platforms, educational institutions, and training organizations hire voice actors to create engaging and informative e-learning courses, tutorials, and educational materials.
  • Dubbing and Localization: Localization companies and studios hire voice actors to dub foreign-language content, including films, TV shows, and video games, into other languages.
  • Podcasting: As the podcasting industry grows, voice actors are sought after as hosts, guest speakers, and narrators for various podcasts and audio shows.
  • Corporate Videos: Businesses and organizations use voice actors to create corporate videos, product demos, explainer videos, and promotional content.
  • Radio and Broadcasting: Radio stations and broadcasting companies hire voice actors for on-air promotions, advertisements, and radio dramas.
  • Animation and VFX Studios: In addition to traditional animation, voice actors are needed for voice acting in computer-generated imagery (CGI) and visual effects (VFX) projects.

Step 4. Audition for Voice Acting Roles

You can audition for roles by submitting your demos and auditions through online casting platforms, contacting casting directors, or attending in-person auditions and networking events within the industry. Persistence and a professional approach to auditions are key to landing voice-acting roles.

Voice Actor Popular Career Specialties

What are the Job Opportunities for a Voice Actor

Voice actors have a wide range of job opportunities available across various media and industries.

Let’s explore some of these opportunities:

  • Animation: You can provide voices for animated characters in TV shows, films, web series, and online animations.
  • Video Games: Dive into the gaming world by lending your voice to various characters, including heroes, villains, and non-playable characters in video games.
  • Commercials: Get your voice heard on radio and television commercials, where you’ll help promote products, services, and brands.
  • Audiobooks: Bring written stories to life as an audiobook narrator, providing character voices and delivering engaging spoken narration.
  • Dubbing: Specialize in dubbing foreign-language films and TV shows into other languages, matching lip sync and conveying emotions.
  • Promo and Trailer Voiceovers: Create captivating voiceovers for movie trailers, TV show promos, and video game trailers.
  • Narration: Offer voiceovers for documentaries, educational videos, corporate presentations, and museum exhibits.
  • E-Learning and Training: Narrate e-learning courses and training materials to make educational content more interesting and engaging.
  • Radio and Podcasting: Contribute character voices and narration in radio dramas, podcasts, and online audio shows.
  • Character Impersonation: Specialize in impersonating famous characters or celebrities for entertainment, parodies, and satire.
  • Voice Acting Coaching: Once experienced, you can become a coach or teacher, offering training and workshops to aspiring voice actors.
  • ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement): Re-record dialogues in post-production for film and TV to replace unclear or unusable audio.
  • Voiceovers for Museums and Exhibits: Work in museums and exhibits, providing narrations for displays and interactive exhibits.
  • Corporate Videos: Voice corporate videos, product demos, and promotional materials for businesses and organizations.
  • Online Content Creation: Create your own content on platforms like YouTube, where you can perform character voices or host shows.

Remember that these opportunities come with variations in pay, work schedules, and required skills. Many voice actors diversify their portfolios by exploring multiple avenues within the industry, which can increase their chances of finding consistent work.

Step 5. Marketing Yourself

In the competitive world of voice acting, marketing yourself effectively is crucial. This step involves creating a strong online presence through a professional website and social media profiles. It also includes building your personal brand, showcasing your work, and actively promoting your voice acting services to potential clients and casting directors. Successful self-promotion is an art in itself and is vital for securing gigs and growing your career.

What is the Career Outlook for Voice Actors?

According to data from Zippia, voice actor employment is projected to increase by 8% between 2018 and 2028, which is an above-average growth rate.

Here are some key factors that define the career outlook for voice actors:

  • Industry Growth: The demand for voice acting has been on the rise, thanks to the expansion of media and technology. Opportunities in sectors like animation, video games, and e-learning have grown considerably.
  • Online Platforms: The internet has opened up opportunities for remote work and self-promotion. Online platforms and marketplaces connect voice actors with clients globally, making it easier to find work.
  • Competitive Nature: The voice acting industry is highly competitive, with many talented professionals vying for roles. Building a successful career often requires persistence and continuous skill development.
  • Freelance Work: Many voice actors work as freelancers, which offers flexibility but may also result in irregular income. Managing finances and marketing skills become crucial.
  • Talent Representation: Securing representation from a talent agency can help voice actors access higher-paying and more consistent opportunities. This route often involves auditions and a percentage of earnings going to the agency

In summary, the career outlook for voice actors is optimistic, given the expanding demand for their services. However, it’s essential to recognize the competitive nature of the industry and be prepared for the challenges it presents.

What is the Work-Life Balance of a Voice Actor?

The work-life balance of a voice actor can vary widely depending on several factors, including their level of experience, workload, specialization, and personal preferences. Many voice actors work as freelancers, which can offer flexibility but may also mean irregular work patterns. Self-employed voice actors often have control over their schedules but must manage administrative tasks, marketing, and client interactions, which can impact their work-life balance. Voice actors can choose to balance their work and personal lives according to their preferences.

Overall, voice actors can achieve a reasonable work-life balance, but it often requires careful time management, adaptability, and the ability to navigate the demands of a freelance career. As they gain experience and develop a solid client base, they may have more control over their schedules and workload, allowing for a more balanced lifestyle.

Should I Become a Voice Actor?

Deciding whether to become a voice actor is a significant choice that depends on your interests, skills, and career goals. Voice acting requires a genuine passion for performing, storytelling, and character portrayal. Assess your natural voice qualities, vocal range, and ability to adapt to different characters and emotions.

Also, consider your long-term career goals. Before making a final decision, it’s advisable to try voice acting on a small scale, such as recording sample scripts or participating in community theater.

Additionally, seeking advice from experienced voice actors or attending introductory workshops can provide valuable insights. Ultimately, becoming a voice actor can be a rewarding career for those who are dedicated, passionate, and willing to invest in their skills. However, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the industry’s demands and challenges before pursuing this path.

Careers Related to Voice Actor


Andrea Delgado

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