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How to become a voice over actor: The ULTIMATE Guide

Voice over actors is a dream job for many, but how do you become a voice over actor? You’re probably asking “where do I start?” – don’t worry we’ve got you covered. 

Voice over actors are a sought after career for many, it has many benefits and in these modern times, it’s not as difficult as you think to become one. You just need to be creative, flexible, tenacious and have a strong plan. 

In today’s article, we will help you achieve the dream of becoming a voice over actor and outline some key tips to ensure you’re following the right path.

Let’s dive straight into it. 

What is a voice over actor?

A voice over actor is a performer who solely uses their voice to act in animated tv programmes, commercials, product videos, radio shows, commentary videos, podcasts, audiobooks, video games and plenty more. 

Voice actors will also need to possess acting skills, as just speaking won’t get you the part. Voice actors have to have acting skills too, as they can only express themselves using their voice, they need to convey emotion. 

Like all actors, voice actors must practice daily and always be looking at ways to improve. Voice acting is a highly sought after skill, so you must look to be at the top of your game every day. 

Why not check out our guide on 9 acting techniques all actors MUST know

What does a voice over actor do?

A voice actor primarily records scripts and copy within a recording booth. Depending on the type of script will determine how you deliver those lines, dramatised radio shows will differ from a commercial recording. 

On delivery of those lines, you must adjust your delivery and perform the lines in a variety of ways so the audio editor has a few to work with to try and get the best fit for the project. 

In these times, most voice over actors have opted to build home studios to record their lines, most production companies will now accept that and the director may work with you over video calls to get the best out of you. 

Building a home voiceover studio can be highly beneficial, will allow you to apply for more jobs and most importantly, save you a hell of a lot of time travelling to and from studios. 

How much does voice over actors make?

This is highly circumstantial based on numerous factors, including if you’re in a union, having representation. Here’s a breakdown of how much voice actors are paid in the US and in the UK. 

How much do voice actors make in the US? 

In the US, voice actors make on average $31,400 a year. An entry-level voice actor earns on average $18,390 a year – however, some of the top voice actors easily clear six figures a year.

This is dependent on the following attributes too: 

  • If you’re part of a union
  • Level of skill and experience 
  • How well you are marketed and represented

Make sure when you start out as a voice actor to hone those voice acting skills and market yourself in a way where you are sort after. Maybe look into a niche, like action video gaming, at first and nail that, then grow your network. 

How much do voice actors make in the UK?

In the UK, the national average salary for a voice over artist is £33,442 per year.

The highest salary for a voice over artist in the UK is £60,399 per year, and the lowest salary for a is £18,516 per year.

Remember, this is usually a lot higher for someone who freelances; these projects for the top 10% can amount to over six figures a year. However, we advise you to build your experience to get a salaried role for the first couple of years. 

Also, look to do independent jobs on the weekends to diversify your portfolio. You’ll get to where you want with varied roles and experience and constantly looking to improve your craft.

The benefits of being a voice over actor

There are plenty of benefits of being a voice actor—these range from working from wherever you like to be paid pretty well.

  • Work from home or at a studio. You pick. As a voice actor, it allows you to work both from your home setup and at a studio. You can record your lines in your home studio and if needs be, the director can video call in to give you some direction. It’s as easy as that. 
  • Flexibility. Being a voice actor gives you flexibility. You can choose when and where you work, and with who. Pretty ideal!
  • Well paid. Voice acting roles tend to be incredibly lucrative, especially commercials. Once you’ve built up your portfolio, it will allow you to up your prices and be a lot more visible in the industry. Make sure your sizzle reels are always up to date. 
  • You decide when you work. You’re your own boss. It’s great, if you want a month off, take it. But you can also dedicate six solid months to working. Then relax for a few weeks before getting back into it. Fit your work to suit your lifestyle. 

A guide on how to become an actor with no experience

The disadvantages of being a voice over actor

As well as benefits, unfortunately, there are a few disadvantages to being a voice actor. Don’t let these put you off; it’s more to show the realistic side of voice acting as a profession and give you a balanced view. 

Here are the disadvantages of being a voice actor: 

  • Huge competition. There’s a lot of competition out there, which can be tough at the start. But you’ll get there through perseverance and looking for a niche to build up your initial experience. Keep at it, and you’ll get there. 
  • Work can be infrequent. The work can be unsteady at times. If you’re looking for steady work, we’d say either do voice over work as a part-time job or steer clear of it. It can be tough as a voice over actor starting, but you will get to the point where you can pick and choose your roles, stick at it – keep learning, and most importantly, be flexible. No career path is ever the same. 
  • The setup is expensive. Saving up for a good home studio takes time, but you need to have clear, crisp audio to win those voice acting roles. If you can’t afford them just yet, start to apply to indie projects with the setup you do have and take on a part-time role to save for the better equipment to allow you to record at a higher quality. You’ll have to be a little patient, though. 

Famous voice over artists

Here are a few voice over artists that voice over some of your favourite characters. 

Darth Vader 

Darth Vader

Darth Vader was a prominent character in the Star Wars franchise, which captured the audience, putting fear into them. 

He was an enigma, a character with incredible pull – his lines were delivered incredibly well, and guess what, you’re probably wondering who voiced him. Well, that man was James Earl Jones. 

James Earl Jones – is an American voice actor who began his career as an actor in Dr. Strangelove, rising to fame in 1977 playing Darth Vader in the original Star Wars film. 

Olaf

Olaf came to fame in that little known animation, Frozen; I’m kidding, I swear no one in the world hasn’t watched it. And if you haven’t let us know in the comments. 

Olaf is voiced by a very famous face, and that famous face is Josh Gad.

Josh Gad is known for his roles in Pixels and The Wedding Ringer. He also played the role of ​​Elder Arnold Cunningham in the Broadway musical: The Book of Mormon.

Bart Simpson

The Simpsons, what a show! But who voices Bart? Well, you probably know, but if you don’t, it’s Emmy Award-winning voice actor Nancy Cartwright.

Nancy Cartwright is one of the best voice actors out there, but she also acted in a couple of films. Yep, Nancy acted in Godzilla and Flesh and Blood.

Funnily enough, Nancy also voiced the following characters in The Simpsons as well:

  • Nelson Muntz 
  • Ralph Wiggum
  • Todd Flanders
  • Kearney
  • Database
  • Maggie.

Other voice acting credits of note are, Rugrats, Poppy Cat and Kim Possible.

Read more on How to be a movie extra – The ULTIMATE guide!

How to become a voice over actor

Here are the top tips and steps on how to become a voice over actor. Becoming a voice actor is hard, but not impossible. With the right plan, consistent training, a little persevering and you’ll get there. Here are a few top tips to help you become a voice actor. 

Let’s check them out.

Voice acting coach

A voice acting coach isn’t necessarily going to teach you how to act but will teach you how to deliver your lines and sharpen your technical prowess. 

They’ll help you finesse the art of breathing, articulation and pronunciation. All of which are important as a voice actor to nail, as you want to be clear and articulate – the acting will then add to the delivery to bring out the depth of the line spoken.

Acting lessons 

Take them! It’s incredibly important for you as a voice actor to take acting lessons, as this will help refine your acting skills and allow you to pull through emotions when delivering your lines. If you’re a better actor, your voice over lines will start to have more depth and be of a much higher level. 

You may also be interested in The 9 Best Websites For Actors

Practice and rehearse

As they say, practice makes perfect. However cheesy that saying is, they’re right. If you’re looking to become one of the best voice actors in the world, you have to practice. 

Practice daily, watch some of your favourite commercials, listen to their delivery. Listen to their inflexions, practice your lines daily. If you like filmmaking as well, record your short commercials, and do the voice over. Practice all the time; you’ll only get better.

Showreels, well… A demo. 

Record a demo; it’s the equivalent of an actors showreel. The demo reel is essentially a sizzle reel that displays the different dialogue and voice you can perform. 

Voice actors tend to have two seperate reels, one for commercials and another for character work. This will help you when applying for auditions as you can direct the production team to the relevant reel – it will elevate your application.

You can also use this to send to management companies to obtain representation. 

Audition

Auditioning is a huge part of solidifying yourself as a great voice actor. It’s essentially how you land a role and is integral to you starting out. At the start of your career, auditions will be tough to find but try not to put too much pressure on yourself when you do get one. 

Also, try to audition for roles that suit your voice and your acting style. You’ll prepare much better for them, and it will give you a much better chance of landing the role. 

Preparing for your audition is important. Make sure you know your lines inside out and have plenty of rest the night before. Then before the audition, ensure you warm your voice up, ensure you’re 

An interesting read: 7 Steps to nailing your next audition.

Networking

Everyone’s favourite word. I know it’s laborious, but it’s not about throwing business cards and talking with people at events. It’s less sales like and more relationship development. 

You can do this through your online presence and develop actual friendships with people with whom you’d like to collaborate on your next project. It will help you no end, develop true relationships, and enjoy the process more with people you could potentially class as a friend.

Where to find voice over jobs

This depends on your situation and experience. Highly experienced voice over actors will have an agent and will be able to secure auditions and jobs directly through their agent. 

Whereas voice over actors earlier in their careers will have to source out different jobs and then audition. It’s all about building your experience and brand, as mentioned above. 

Here are the two places we highly recommend for you to search and apply for voice over jobs. 

For UK and US voiceover actors, we recommend Mandy Voice Over Jobs and Voices – freelance voice over jobs

We hope this article on “How to become a voice over actor: The ULTIMATE Guide” was useful to you. Let us know your thoughts down below in the comments; we love to hear from you guys. 

And, scroll a little further down for the latest acting and voice acting resources. 

Happy acting!

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