How To Become a Voice Actor in 6 Steps (With Skills)
Updated March 8, 2023
If you have a passion for acting and enjoy using your voice to express emotions or communicate messages, consider a career as a voice actor. Voice actors may work independently to record audio for various projects across multiple industries, earning wages based on each performance. Understanding how to start a career in this role can help you determine if this is the right job for you.
In this article, we explain the role of a voice actor, list six steps on how to become a voice actor, discuss key skills and provide information about the position's salary and work environment.
What is a voice actor?
A voice actor is a talented individual who uses their voice to create the sounds for a character, usually in animation projects like video games, television shows and movies. Typically, voice actors work in the entertainment industry but can provide vocal talent for other projects, such as advertisements, education projects or digital devices.
They may also use their abilities to provide voice-over dubbing for live-action entertainment and commercials. Additionally, voice actors perform as characters or narrators for audiobooks.
Voice actors specialize in using acting talents to bring a character to life through spoken dialog and vocal sound effects. In some projects, voice actors even use musical talents to provide the singing voice of a character. Using audio recording equipment, voice actors speak and record lines from a script used to dub character voices for various projects.
How to become a voice actor in 6 steps
Here are some steps on how to become a voice actor:
1. Gain acting skills and experiences
Many voice actors begin their careers by learning to act on stage or in films. An associate or bachelor's degree in acting or theater arts can prepare you with experience in performing and knowledge of fundamental acting principles.
Acting classes may also help you improve your abilities by learning from experts with mastery in techniques like characterization, vocalization and interpretation. Courses in improvisation, script analysis and acting methods can help build essential voice acting skills.
2. Consider vocal training workshops
Working with a voice acting coach may benefit your career since voice acting relies on a person's vocal abilities for distinct tones and characterizations. Voice acting coaches can help train your voice to match your acting abilities, teaching you the proper vocal techniques that, combined with acting principles, create the unique work of a voice actor. Many voice acting coaches use their careers to provide expertise to those starting in the field.
3. Record voice-over demos
One of the main ways to showcase your voice-acting abilities to talent scouts, casting directors and potential clients is by recording a demo track featuring a few minutes of your best voice-over work. To ensure your demo is done well, consider working with a voice acting coach and using a professional recording studio to produce a high-quality track.
Typically, a demo comprises several character voices, showcasing your vocal range and acting abilities. Demos often combine voice-acting roles, including an advertisement, narration and animated characters. Once you gain experience and samples from professional work, you can remake your demo to reflect your field expertise more accurately.
4. Audition for roles
Auditioning for voice acting roles requires persistence and research to find clients accepting new talent. Some voice actors use agents to find jobs and network with casting directors in the entertainment industry. Production companies often post positions on audition websites or social networks asking for demo samples before choosing top candidates to move forward in the casting process.
You can also find websites that post voice actor demos for clients searching for voice talent for a particular project. Some websites charge you to post your demo or offer membership fees with levels of access and benefits depending on your payment plan. This passive form of auditioning can help provide jobs while you actively audition for other specialized or lucrative roles.
5. Invest in a home studio and professional materials
Generally, voice actors use professional audio equipment to record their performances at home. Many dedicate part of their living area to creating an acoustically adequate and soundproof space designed to produce tracks with clear audio with no background noise.
An alternative spot to record yourself at home where it's quiet with solid acoustics is in a closet. Voice actors can use a high-quality microphone with a stand, headphones, a computer and audio software to record in their homes.
6. Continue to hone your skills
Once you begin pursuing a career in voice acting, it's imperative to improve your skills continually. Increase your industry knowledge by taking more classes at the intermediate or expert level at a local college or university. You can also search for online certification courses to learn more about a particular skill or industry trend.
Additionally, join professional networking groups for continuing education opportunities within the voice acting field. Personal study through vocal exercises, practice readings and improvisation acts can become a part of your daily routine to protect your vocal instrument and hone your voice-acting abilities.
Benefits of voice acting
There are several benefits to voice acting that you enjoy, especially as a creative person. One advantage of this career path is you can set your own schedule as long as you meet deadlines on time. You can work whenever you wish if you're recording audio in your home, providing more flexibility in your day.
Another benefit of this career is meeting and connecting with like-minded individuals who share the same passion and can offer helpful career advice. Overall, the advantages of this career allow you to express yourself and do something creatively fulfilling with your job.
Voice actor skills
Here are some key skills voice actors use to succeed in their careers:
It's required for voice actors to produce specific sounds from their voices. This includes strong enunciation, which is the pronunciation of words that are easily understood by listeners, to create the sounds for character voices, narrations or other speaking roles. Voice actors care for their vocal cords and throat and understand when to rest or warm up their instruments before performing in a voice-over role.
Experience in acting methods is essential for this role to perform vocally as a character. Although they may use body posture and gestures while recording, voice actors rely on their vocal tone to convey emotion.
Other acting techniques that can benefit you as a voice actor include mimicry, character impressions and vocal dynamics. Learning to emote through the inflection and pitch of your voice is an acting method voice actors rely on to succeed in their careers.
Voice actors require basic knowledge of audio equipment and sound recording techniques. Understanding how to operate audio software and a microphone to record voice-over tracks is vital when recording in a home studio. Voice actors may also complete basic audio editing tasks to prepare recordings for a client.
Using your voice to create a character requires confidence in your acting and vocal abilities. Projecting sound with clarity and appropriate volume can show confidence. Interacting with other industry individuals outside a recording booth can also convey confidence.
For example, you can participate in theater groups where they hold social groups who perform improv. Performing improv in front of your peers can help increase your confidence while gaining immediate feedback on your acting skills, including hearing where you can improve.
Voice acting takes dedication and a commitment to pursuing your craft despite competition from other talented artists. It may take time to find your niche and build experience. You can take on many different types of projects or smaller jobs in voice-over until you have consistent work.
It's beneficial to promote yourself as a voice actor to create a personal brand. You can do this by using marketing techniques like building your own website and activating social media platforms to drive traffic to your home page. On a website and social media profile, it's critical to post sample work for interested parties to review and understand your skills.
Additionally, crafting a portfolio or a press kit can help promote your skills offline. A press kit contains promotional materials and information about yourself as a voice actor, including social media links, brand logos and contact methods.
Networking with professional groups or forums for job postings is another way to promote your talents to a wide range of potential clients. When you network with others in your industry, it may increase your chances of hearing about an open position that might not be on job posting websites.
Work environment for voice actors
Often, voice actors work alone in a sound booth while communicating with a team of recording engineers outside the room. Other voice actors perform in a home studio in a soundproof room or quiet office space. In some situations, voice actors may record dialog or musical numbers with other actors, allowing them to interact with other people while completing a project.
While in a studio, voice actors spend most of their time recording while standing in front of a script and a microphone. Individuals may sit or stand in a studio depending on how they feel they can deliver their lines most effectively. In both situations, voice actors may take frequent breaks to keep their vocal cords hydrated and prevent damage.
Salary for a voice actor
The national average salary for a voice actor is $81,639 per year. Voice actor wages can vary due to the scale of a project. For example, recording character dialog for an animated television series may pay more than a single recording session for a radio commercial. Annual salary can also depend on the steady work a voice actor takes on and whether they work freelance, with a production company or through an agent.
For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link(s) provided.
Tips for becoming a voice actor
Here are some ideas to help you succeed as a voice actor:
Study successful voice actors. Get to know successful industry experts by following their social media accounts, reading their websites and listening to their performances. Some popular voice actors teach courses online, sharing techniques and tips to help you expand your influence within the industry.
Know your voice. Understanding your vocal range and abilities prepares you to describe your unique sound to potential clients. You can try practicing roles in multiple genres and pitches to determine your best sounds.
Create a warm-up routine. To keep your voice in good condition, use warm-up exercises that gently prepare your vocal cords for recording. Ask a voice-over coach for practices or find warm-up ideas online.
Practice daily. Reading scripts for daily voice-over practice can help you hone your acting and vocal talents. You could also include this as part of a warm-up routine.
Pursue your passion. Although you may take on different types of work at the beginning of your career, pursue the area of voice acting you enjoy most. Follow industry trends that excite you, whether it's video games, cartoons or audiobooks.
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