Will I be wrong to say that a great voice does not make one a voice actor? Of course, not. To become a professional voice actor, you need to consistently and intentionally groom your voice. A nice voice does not guarantee a nice voice acting career.
Therefore, the right question should be, “how do I become a voice actor?”
To help you better understand what voice acting is and the step-by-step process of becoming a voice actor, Kiiky, has put together this article, which covers all the information you need. Carefully read through!
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the employment of actors and actresses was predicted to have minimal growth through 2028. However, wages vary widely; in May 2018, the BLS reported that actors in the 90th percentile or higher earned $61.74 or more per hour, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $9.05 or less per hour. It might also interest you to know that voice-over jobs are highly competitive.
A good voice might not be all you need to beat the mark and stake a claim in the industry. Before we go on to state how to become a voice actor, it is important you have an insight into the responsibilities, requirements, and earnings of a voice actor.
See the table of contents below for a quick overview.
Table of contents
- Who Is A Voice Actor?
- What Are The Duties of A Voice Actor? Work Description
- How To Become A Voice Actor
- Which Schools Offer Courses In Voice Acting
- What Are The Requirements To Become A Voice Actor?
- How Long Does It Take To Become A Voice Actor?
- How Much Can You Make As A Voice Actor?
- How Do Voice Actors Make Their Money?
- FAQs On How To Become A Voice Actor
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Who Is A Voice Actor?
Voice acting is the art of performing voice-overs or rendering voices to represent a character or to provide information to an audience or user. Many companies seek the services of voice actors.
Voice actors provide the voice for animated films and television shows, narrate documentaries, and television and radio commercials.
In television and radio commercials and movie trailers in the United States, voice actors are often recruited through voice-acting agencies.
There are also a lot of opportunities for voice actors to thrive in this industry, and it’s a business that keeps one busy. However, starting a voice acting career is different from starting in any other acting field: you’ll begin from scratch. Therefore, you need to know how to become a voice actor and be ready to practice constantly.
What Are The Duties of A Voice Actor? Work Description
A voice actor can perform in many roles, including providing narratives in commercials or playing characters in animated films or video games, narrating documentaries, generating podcasts, and audiobooks, and a whole lot more.
Furthermore, they make an important contribution to many films, television productions, and advertisements in the United States and beyond.
Most of the work is done in a recording studio, with the voice actor reading lines in a recording booth while a sound engineer examines from the control room.
Voice actors are self-employed and typically have a busy work schedule. They often experience times when there is a lot of work available, as well as times when they have few projects.
Good voice actors can speak in multiple tones of voice and with various accents. The ability to speak audibly and with a pleasing voice is vital. Unlike stage, television, and film actors, voice actors typically do not receive scripts in advance to allow them to rehearse and memorize their lines. Given the lack of rehearsal time, you must be able to read from scripts normally, and conversationally.
Voice actors also are responsible for managing their voices. Frequent practice and vocal exercises., particularly with new tones and accents, prevent voice actresses from straining their vocal cords.
To cap it all, a pleasant tone, good diction, and solid microphone techniques are essential qualities for a voice actor.
Here are the responsibilities of a voice actor;
1. Interpreting Scripts
Scripts demonstrate a writer’s representation of characters and ideas. A voice actor reads and interprets a script incorporating the concepts the writer wishes to portray. He works under the guidance of the director to understand the script and better do his job.
A voice actor must bring out a character’s personality through his voice. Therefore, you must know how to tweak your voice to suit a specific character and action. An actor also needs to know how to alter the pitch of his voice depending on the script. The quality of presentation in a radio jingle and other voice-acting activities goes a long way to determining the level of audience engagement.
3. Voice Practice
A voice actor is accountable for managing his voice by engaging in voice practice. He may practice accents and tones to become proficient in voice versatility. Also, it enables an actor to offer an employer a wide range of voice talent, be it in media advertisements, video games, audiobooks, or movie trailers.
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A voice actor will collaborate with the team, particularly the director and voice engineer, to produce professional work. Ideally, they record scripts in studios and receive instructions from the director on what to improve.
To ease the job and smooth performance, qualities such as patience and good listening skills are very important to a voice actor.
How To Become A Voice Actor
After seeing the amazing job functions and responsibilities of a voice actor, I’m pretty sure the next puzzle to crack is how to become a voice actor.
Behind every radio jingle, video games, animated film, audiobook, podcast, and so on, there is a voice actor. You might think having a good voice is a guarantee, but that is far from it.
Though there are no educational requirements to become a voice actor, some schools offer performing arts programs in voice acting. Some of these are standalone, non-credit courses or workshops that can be taken for personal enrichment or professional development. Others are incorporated into degree programs in acting. Basic courses focus on performing voice-over work for various mediums, and students typically practice reading scripts and receive feedback from industry professionals.
More so, voice-over actors should be able to advance their work and have strong networking skills. With home recording equipment, a voice-over actor can practice and quickly create and send out online demos. Versatile voice-over actors, such as those who can perform accents or play multiple roles in one script, might have the strongest prospects for employment.
Because of the competitive nature of the industry, being a voice actor is not something that just happens. You have to practice constantly and horn your skills. Through perseverance, and hard work, you will be well on your way to becoming a voice actor. See the step-by-step process to becoming a voice actor below.
Step by step process to becoming a Voice Actor
How to become a voice actor is not going to be a tail long prospectus In fact, it is a short one that demands dedication and focus. If you feel you want to train your voice to meet certain standards, here are the step by step processes to follow.
- Practice reading aloud
- Record your own voice
- Try speaking with your diaphragm
- Practice vocal exercises
- Take voice lessons
- Market yourself
1. Practice reading aloud
This involves practicing by reading things aloud. Being able to read aloud efficiently is essential for voice acting, especially if your job demands you to read from a teleprompter or script. Read books, magazines, or news articles out loud on a regular basis to get acquainted with it. It will be nice if you spend 30 minutes or more a day reading out loud. Practice pronouncing words and work on your intonation. Try modifying the sound of your voice as you read for an added challenge.
2. Record your own voice
Try recording the scripts you read out loud, play it back to yourself to hear what you sound like, and make personal notes for correction. Don’t be surprised at the sound of your voice. The way you sound in a recording differs from how you sound to yourself each day. So, take note of these changes and know when to make modifications especially over a microphone.
3. Try speaking with your diaphragm
Consider whether you are using a nasal, mouth, chest, or diaphragm voice when listening to your voice. A nasal voice sounds unpleasant and whiny, a mouth voice sounds very quiet, a chest voice sounds pleasant, but a diaphragm voice is the most powerful and has the best sound. To develop the diaphragm voice, practice breathing deeply and watching your stomach rise and fall. Make sounds that come from the diaphragm, such as laughing or yawning. Once you get the hang of it, it is merely a matter of maintaining the voice. A voice teacher can help you project from the diaphragm.
4. Practice vocal exercises
Certain exercises can help you to control and improve your voice. Many of them are based on breathing. You could try humming a scale by blowing through a straw for breath control. You could lie on the floor and inhale deeply, making a “shh” sound while exhaling. Even simply sitting up straight with your shoulders back can make a big difference in the sound of your voice. You could also practice articulating with tongue twisters, such as “Red leather, yellow leather, red leather, yellow leather.
5. Take voice lessons
Having regular voice lessons (at least once a week) will help you improve your vocal range and teach you how better to control the volume and sound of your voice. You may need to scout for voice teachers to find the best fit for you. A good voice teacher will help you not only improve strong technique and control but also will help you to find your unique voice. A good voice teacher will teach you how to warm up your voice well.
6. Market yourself
After a series of classes and training, I’m sure you’ll fancy the idea of making cool cash out of it. Therefore, you need to market yourself and build a network in any way you can. This can be done through drafting a resume, building an online portfolio, creating a demo, attending auditions, and finally putting your best in the slots you get.
Which Schools Offer Courses In Voice Acting
Though there are no specific academic requirements to become a voice actor, some schools offer voice acting courses. See the schools below;
- Boston University
- Temple University
- University of Connecticut
- DePaul University
- Texas Tech University
- University of Nevada
- University of Washington
- Ithaca College
- Texas Christian University
The BFA in Acting is intended for students who have a strong passion for focusing primarily on actor training and recognizing the craft of acting to approach, comprehend, and brighten the complexity of the human spirit.
The program develops deep self-awareness, heightened intellect, rich emotional life, expanded imagination, and generosity to develop a transformational actor.
Furthermore, in this program, students are exposed to studio classes in voice, speech, and movement, and Alexander Technique provides the foundation for the Acting major and encourage students to develop a deep connection to themselves.
The Certificate in Voice and Speech for the Actor enables undergraduates from other disciplines to continue their interest in voice and speech.
The Department of Theater at Temple University boasts two master teachers and one associate teacher of the renowned Fitzmaurice voice method.
The Certificate in Voice and Speech for the Actor allows a student to continue training with professional actors and faculty from the Department of Theater at Temple and the rich theatrical community of Philadelphia.
University of Connecticut
UConn Voice & Opera provides students with a well-rounded vocal education and various opportunities to perform. UConn Voice & Opera strives for excellence, providing performances and other shots of the highest caliber to undergraduate and graduate students alike.
Students involved in UConn Voice & Opera partake in UConn Opera Theater, which stages opera and operetta from across the repertoire, opera outreach, opera scenes, honors recitals, and two regular Songfests each year.
The Theatre School’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in acting equips actors to work on stage and screen. It develops actors who are imaginative, skillful, expressive, and vibrantly alive.
Furthermore, students undergo voice training and classes to enhance vocal communication.
Texas Tech University
The Voice Area at Texas Tech University holds a long tradition of excellence, seeking to assist qualified students in fulfilling music and voice acting career goals. Voice Area graduates of Texas Tech are performing in international careers as singers, teachers, choral conductors, voice actors, and numerous related fields.
University of Nevada
The Department of Theatre and Dance is a collaborative community of artists and scholars – faculty, staff, and students- aiming to achieve the highest level of excellence in their teaching, learning, research, creative endeavors, and outreach to the community and state.
Here, students explore all aspects of the performing arts through classes, studios, and hands-on experiences onstage and behind the scenes. More so, students undergo intensive voice training to sharpen their vocal skills.
University of Washington
The UW Professional Actor Training Program (PATP) is a three-year conservatory training program. UW prepares carefully-selected actors for the professional world of theatre, film, television, and new media.
The curriculum dwells on Stanislavski’s time-honored traditions and practices combined with extensive physical training that includes Suzuki Method, Viewpoints, Alexander Technique, and stage combat.
Ithaca College’s nationally-recognized BFA in Acting offers a conservatory’s rigorous, highly-individualized training within the enriching foundation of a liberal arts education. Through a range of classroom and performance experiences, students deepen their talent and hone their technique and expressive abilities.
Ithaca College displays two musicals in most years, a dance concert in alternating years, and four plays and an opera. BFA Acting students are eligible to audition beginning in their first semester and required to audition in every subsequent semester.
This program exposes students to voice training, movement, and scene study.
Texas Christian University
Texas Tech Christian University students take several courses in realism, period styles, non-realism, acting Shakespeare, stage combat, advanced stage movement, advanced voice & speech and more.
BFA performance classes average of 12 students. Those in the acting and musical theatre emphases train together in fundamental performance courses such as acting, stage movement, and voice, and speech.
The academic experience in TCU’s Theatre department is both artistic and challenging — allowing students to expand their perspectives and grow in a program with academic rigor.
What Are The Requirements To Become A Voice Actor?
When getting started in voice acting, you don’t really require any academic qualification per se. What you need is the desire and willingness to learn. It is possible for you to have a natural talent for voice over, but the most successful voice actors will attest that regular practice and getting a voice coach is ideal. There is so much value in attending training sessions and hiring a voice-over coach.
Courses in voice acting are available both online and in-person. In addition to learning voice work techniques, most courses also discuss self-promotion and teach students how to create a demo.
How Long Does It Take To Become A Voice Actor?
Typically, becoming a voice actor takes time, there’s no doubt about it. Nevertheless, it all depends on your level of commitment and dedication to the course. 6 months of training will be a nice ride. To become a voice-over actor you will need discipline, skills, the right attitude, and a lot of ambition.
It can be really tough at the initial stage but when that first job comes your way, it really will be worth the wait.
How Much Can You Make As A Voice Actor?
Though the amount of money voice actors earn differ according to the type of work, size of the project, experience, and other factors, your earnings as a voice actor range from $35 for a small market radio spot, $150 for a 15-second recording for say a small website, $250 – $350 for a 30-second major market radio commercial (Plus use fees) to about $2000 – $5000 per audiobook, as an established voice talent. In addition to the bit by bit payments, the average voice actor has a salary of $31,400 a year. An entry-level voice actor can expect to earn $18,390 a year while an experienced voice actor has an average annual salary of $90,000 a year.
It is also important to note that the yearly income of a voice actor is an individual ball game, in the sense that what Mr.A earns annually might be far greater than what Mr. B earns annually. This is determined by the nature and type of jobs you get. Therefore, once you start building a portfolio of clients as a voice actor, you’ll experience a leap in your earnings.
It is also important to note that other factors such as; the level of skill and niche talent, number of auditions submitted, agency listings, and your personal sales capability determine a lot too. If you are not good at what you do and you don’t have the network base that builds confidence and marketability, you might see your voice acting career going down by the day due to low earnings. it is important you work on your professional promotion too.
Average Voice Actor Salary
Top 10% of voice actors earn $90,000 and above
Top 25% of voice actors earn $51,000 and above
Median voice actors pay is $31,400 while the bottom 25% earn $21,700 and above
How Do Voice Actors Make Their Money?
As a voice actor you might be working on a TV ad one day, a radio commercial the next and then the following day on a cartoon. Each day is different, so you might find a career as a voice actor perfect.
Now the question is, how do voice actors make their money, right? Simple, voice actors make their money per contract basis. Your earnings as a voice actor can come from a radio spot, fifteen minutes recording for a website, a major market radio jingle, audiobook, Podcasts, animations, gaming, short films, animations, narrating documentaries and a whole lot more.
In most cases, after getting a contract, the costing is done per word count and duration.
However, the most important thing is kicking off well. At the early stage, the focus should be on getting yourself grounded in the industry. This is done through acquiring the necessary skills and carving a niche for yourself.
Furthermore, you need to stay focused and keep building your personal brand and network. This is of course a goal-oriented strategy.
Truly, voice acting is one of the most thrilling and rewarding careers available today, especially so, when you consider the various range of clients, the flexible work hours and the ability to work from home. To get it right and be on top of your game, you need to consistently make efforts to improve yourself.
FAQs On How To Become A Voice Actor
Voice actors provide the voice for animated films and television shows, narrate documentaries, and do voice-overs for television and radio commercials.
A voice actor can perform in many roles, including providing narratives in commercials or playing characters in animated films or video games, narrate documentaries, generate podcasts, audiobooks, and a whole lot more.
Though there are no educational requirements to become a voice actor, there are schools and private agencies that offer performing arts programs in voice acting.
An entry level voice actor can expect to earn $18,390 a year while an experienced voice actor has an average annual salary of $90,000 a year.
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