If you have a naturally smooth and attractive voice, you might have wondered how to become a voice actor and earn from your voice.
You might think it’s as simple as recording yourself, sending recordings to different companies, and getting hired.
However, this career path requires plenty of time and effort before you even get to record your first demo.
Plus, this industry is highly competitive. It turns out, there are plenty of other voice actors, and it’s not easy to land a job, especially if you’re only starting out.
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Today, our comprehensive guide on how to become a voice actor should help you start from scratch and get voice acting jobs in no time!
9 Steps on How to Become a Voice Actor
1. Study Other Voice Actors
Observation is the first step in every successful plan of action.
Head to a play and observe how the actors enunciate and express themselves.
Listen to radio commercials and study the way their tones change accordingly.
This will definitely help you understand the art of voice acting and will eventually help teach you how to become a voice actor.
2. Learn How to Act
Part of becoming a voice actor that sometimes gets ignored is the acting part.
Hone your acting skills and join acting groups or acting guilds, as well as a couple of improv classes.
Improv classes take your acting a little further and teach you how to think on your feet while speaking and acting without losing your composure.
Being a part of a community of actors with both veterans and newbies is definitely one of the best ways to learn how to act. You benefit from the wisdom of the veterans and get to learn from shared experiences with newbies like yourself.
Also, it enables you to network. The entertainment industry is notoriously hard to break into, and knowing people in the industry would make it much easier for you.
3. Find a Voice Coach or Trainer
When starting out as a voice actor, you simply don’t know what you don’t know. You may have the talent, but the most successful voice actors can attest that education, coaching, and training sessions are worthwhile investments.
There are different types of voice over coaches for different skills that you’d need for different voice actor jobs.
In the beginning, you’d want to look for a general vocal coach who can teach you the basic concepts, techniques, and tips to becoming a voice actor.
When you want to go beyond the basics, there are vocal coaches who can help you with accents, audio production, demo creation, character voice development, and so much more.
Continuous education is a big factor fin your success.
4. Set up Your Home Recording Studio
The most important aspect of a home recording studio is its soundproofing.
Set up a space in a quiet corner in your house, such as a walk-in closet or space under the stairs with minimal foot traffic, no outside sounds, and minimal ambient noise.
Egg crates are inexpensive and work surprisingly well as a sound-absorbing material on your walls. Cover everything else with comforters, especially surfaces where noise can bounce off.
Later, when work picks up, you can designate a space or room as a permanent home recording studio and use professional audio insulation material to soundproof your space.
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5. Invest in Your Equipment
Professional quality microphone
If you want to become a voice actor with steady clients, don’t skimp on your microphone.
No matter how great your voice quality is, your recording can be ruined by a cheap mic that records poor quality audio or too much background noise.
A quality microphone decreases background noise and picks up the most important sound in a microphone: your voice.
It’s also recommended to get a microphone that connects to your computer via XLR, instead of USB or wireless microphones.
Also, you’ll want to get a microphone stand; you won’t want to hold the microphone for hours on end.
A mesh pop filter that you position between the microphone and your mouth is another worthwhile accessory to invest in. Its purpose is to reduce popping sounds from fast-moving air after making P, B, T, J, C, or K sounds.
Professional quality headphones
Another piece of equipment that you can’t afford not to spend on is your headphones.
You’ll need to hear your recording accurately to assess the quality of your voice and background noise while you’re doing the editing and post-production.
Also, you’d want snug-fitting, comfortable headphones, as you’ll be wearing them for a long time while editing.
High quality computer/laptop
Your computer needs to be able to store all your recordings, handle all your recording equipment, and be compatible with the audio editing software you’ll be working with.
If you’re buying a brand new computer or laptop, consider the ports available, sound card, processor, and memory.
6. Learn Technical Skills
Before you get intimidated, technical skills refers to setting up and using audio equipment to record and then edit your recording.
Of course, you can hire professional sound engineers to do it for you, but this would cost you a huge amount in the long run.
You’ll need a solid software program to be able to record your voice with as little background noise and as little compression as possible.
These programs should also allow you to edit your recordings, such as reducing background noise, enhancing portions of the audio, and removing and stitching together relevant sections.
Here are the most highly rated audio recording and editing software that you can use.
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Most new voice actors choose to use Audacity because it’s free and simple to use, but even veteran voice actors find Audacity a great voice recording software overall.
It’s compatible with different operating systems and it has great functionality that holds its own against other pricier software.
With its overall quality, user-friendly interface, multiple effects, and compatibility with various common file formats, WavePad is consistently highly rated among voice actors.
For just $39.95 you can create professional quality audio recordings at the comfort of your own home.
RecordPad is actually from the same company that offers WavePad (NCH Software).
It has fewer functions than WavePad because it’s a recording software; it allows you to record, rip, and burn audio. However, if you don’t need plenty of editing and filtering functions, this is cheaper than WavePad.
Here is a list of other software popular with voice actors.
- Adobe Audition
- Mixcraft 9
- Sony Sound Forge Pro
- GarageBand & Sound Recorder
- Cool Edit Pro 2
- Twisted Wave
7. Practice Constantly
You might think practice isn’t really essential, since you technically speak all the time.
Being a voice actor is much more than just being able to say the words.
You must know how to convey the feeling of the character you are portraying through the tone of your voice, the choice of words, and the depth of emotions.
To actually practice this means reading out loud every single day.
There are plenty of voice over scripts available online that you can access through a simple Google search.
If you have kids at home, you can also practice by reading children’s books aloud.
Children’s books are so animated that with just one story, you can practice voicing out different characters.
8. Record Several Voice Over Demos
When you’re confident enough in your voice acting skills, you can move on to the next step and create voice over demos to demonstrate your abilities to casting directors and potential clients.
A voice over demo is a short audio clip that showcases your voice acting skills in a few minutes. The majority of clients only have to listen for a few seconds before they decide whether or not to hire you.
I recommend creating plenty of demos to highlight your versatility and range. For instance, have one for audiobook narration jobs, one for character voices, one for radio advertisements, and so on.
Also, a great way to build your portfolio when you’re already getting gigs and jobs is to request permission to use a sample of your work on a project for your demo. This way, prospective clients can hear a final version of your voice acting work.
9. Market Yourself
The next thing to do is to market your skills and services by building a solid online presence.
First thing you need to do is to create your own website where potential clients and producers can learn more about you, contact you, and listen to your voice over demos.
If you’re not confident in your website-building skills, you can enlist the help of professionals such as Voice Actor Websites to help you.
Social media marketing is important but only secondary to your own website. If you can only choose one social media platform, choose LinkedIn. You want to convey that you’re serious in pursuing voice acting as a career.
Build your brand through your online presence. Once people start trusting your brand, they will work with you regularly and the next thing you know your calendar would be filled with bookings.
Where to Find Voice Actor Jobs
Before exploring resources and job boards, here is a list of the specific jobs involved in the voice acting industry that you may want to consider:
- Dubbing for Foreign Films
- Animation Voice Overs
- Commercial Voice Over
- TV Program Voice Over
- Radio Hosting
- Radio And Audio Dramas
- Video Games Voice Over
- Audio Book Reader
- IVR Phone Systems Voice Over
- E-Learning Programs Voice Over
- Voice of God Voice Over For Live Events
- Documentary Narration
When choosing what to specialize in, you must take your skill set into consideration. People who do voice overs for animations have a whole different skill level compared to those who talk for an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) phone system.
Choosing the job that fits your skill and interest is highly essential to ensure success.
Here are some of the job boards and resources you can look at to find voice acting jobs.
- Snap Recordings
- VoicesNow: email your demos to brent[at]voicesnow[dot]com
How Much Can Voice Actors Make
One of the most discussed topics within voice actors’ community is the compensation.
Voice actors generally get paid on a per-project or per-job basis. You can earn up to $150 for a 15-second recording for a small website with not a lot of reach.
For an audiobook, you can earn around $2,000 to $5,000.
Consider that aside from the time you spend actually talking, you take some time to edit the recording and do some post-production on the file.
If you calculate it per hour, it averages out around $250 to $300 an hour.
So, can you make a living with your voice?
You always have the option of working on this part-time or full time.
If we calculate that and assume that you have at least one job a month, you’re definitely making enough to take care of a few bills here and there.
Should you choose to work full-time on voice acting, being able to accumulate more working hours can earn a higher rate. For example; a FUNimation voice actor can earn $70,000 to $83,000 a year.
The rate can increase over time, should you get more clients and have something unique that they may need.
Building your name within the industry is something you should really work on to get a higher compensation.
Putting up the capital to get you started may cost you thousands of dollars, but the return of investment is fast as long as you’re doing the job right.
Voice acting can be an exciting, unique, and rewarding career, but it’s not for everyone, and it can be overwhelming for someone who’s starting from scratch.
Hopefully, our guide on how to become a voice actor has been helpful to you.
with hard work, support and a little help from your peers, you can certainly thrive in the business in no time.
Are you planning to start your career as a voice actor soon? Share your plans with us in the comments!