A voice actor works in the film, television and broadcast industries. They use their voice talents in radio and television commercials and make cartoon characters come alive. You may even do voiceovers for foreign movies, dramas and documentaries.
Many voice actors are self-employed so they send out their demo reels to prospective clients or audition for roles in order to get work. There are others who choose to find work through a talent agency. If you opt to do the latter, you will have to pay a fee for the service. Whatever kind of work arrangement you follow, it’s important to have a home recording studio where you can practice, record your voice and if necessary, send voice files through email or other electronic means.
If you want to succeed professionally as a voice actor, you need to develop versatility and flexibility in your voice. This starts by having excellent listening skills. It also means practicing constantly and trying out new sounds, accents and voices so you can offer more to prospective clients and of course, get more jobs. You should also understand the script well so that you can make the personality of the character you are portraying shine through your voice. Patience is also necessary in this career since there will be times when the client will ask you to change how you deliver particular lines to suit the character better.
Why Become A Voice Actor
One reason to become a voice actor is that it gives you the chance to penetrate the film industry based on your voice alone. How you look and/or whether you can show the right emotions and gestures called for in a role are not important. What matters is whether you can portray the character using only your voice. Even your educational background isn’t taken into account. You let your demo reel speak for your talents. Another reason to pursue this career path is that voice acting is really something you love. Work as a voice actor is erratic and there will be periods when you’ll wonder why no one is giving you callbacks. The only reason for you to stick it out through the roughest of times is if you really love the craft.
Voice Actor Work Environment
Voice actors work in their own home studio or in the film company’s studio. Their home studio is usually set up in a vacant space—an unused room, garage or any other place that is quiet. The setup is usually composed of a vocal booth studio, a computer with the appropriate software and Internet connection, microphone and headphones. Since most of the projects for voice actors are available in large cities like Los Angeles and New York, this is also where most of them are located. They may record their voices in their home studio or travel to the film studio to do the job.
Voice acting is generally a freelance career which means that voice actors are responsible for finding their own work. Their work hours are also variable. They may work long hours on a particular project although they can choose their work hours particularly if a client only gives a deadline to complete a particular recording.
Voice Actor Salary
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics does not collect wage and salary information specifically for voice actors alone. Rather, it lumps all kinds of actors into one category. The May 2013 Occupational Employment and Wages report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the median hourly rate for actors is $22.15. It does not report the mean annual wages because most actors don’t work year round.
However, it should be interesting to note that well-established voice actors have already netted themselves millions of dollars by portraying numerous characters. According to the website Celebrity Net Worth, the richest cartoon voice actors as of 2012 included Matt Stone and Trey Parker of South Park, each with a net worth of $300 million, Matt Groening of The Simpsons with a net worth of $500 million and the late Walt Disney, who at the time of his death, had a net worth that is equivalent to $5 billion today.
Voice Actor Career Outlook
Again, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics does not gather data on the job outlook of voice actors per se but only that of actors in general. From 2012 to 2022, the employment rate of actors is set to grow four percent. This is slower than the average for all job types. There will be continued demand for movies and films which will translate to employment opportunities to actors. However, competition will be fierce as there will be more actors competing for a single role.
There are no required educational degrees for one to become a voice actor. However, many voice actors have some background in stage acting. Some get formal voice training through performing arts programs. Those who took up formal film degrees also have voice acting classes integrated in their curriculum. Part of the instruction given in these courses is reading from scripts and then getting feedback from professional voice actors.
While formal education in the film and theater arts will help an aspiring voice actor develop talent, the fees can be quite expensive. One can also take steps towards improving his repertoire of voices by doing self-study. There are numerous sources online and offline that can be used to help improve the raw talent one already possesses. There are also forums and websites of professional voice actors that newbies can turn to for advice and tips. Constant practice and a dedication to the craft can provide good preparation for a voice acting career.