As a voice over artist, you will be using your vocal abilities to narrate films and bring characters to life. In order to become a voice over artist, you must have a strong speaking voice and possess the ability to enunciate, use proper inflection and tone, and use a microphone properly.
However, you must be aware that steady work for voice over artists is rare and voice over talent rates are typically based on the job. Following are some common areas that voice over artists are used.
If you are a voice over artist working in commercials, you will be promoting products and/or services or delivering messages. Often, for these types of jobs, a voice over artist is hired based on his or her voice and how it relates to the product/service.
A more dramatic commercial, such as one for insurance, is likely to use a VO artist with a deep, serious voice. On the other hand, a commercial for an amusement park or vacation is likely to choose someone who is more fun-loving and expressive.
A cartoon needs a VO artist to create voices for TV shows and movies. In some cases, a VO artist will use his/her own voice and personality to bring life to the character. In other cases, the VO artist will create an interesting and unique voice to give life to the character. In some cases, a VO artist will voice several characters in a TV show or movie.
A VO artist also often provides narration for documentaries. Often, the film’s subject will be used to narrate the piece, but in some cases, a VO artist will be hired to create the tone of the piece.
A documentary is scripted and the VO artist might watch the images as he or she does the narration. This will give them a feel for the subject at hand and gives them the chance to determine the best vocal quality and tone.
Finally, a VO artist can also find gigs by doing audio books. Many times, the author of the book may use their own voice to make their words come to life, but a publishing company may also look for outside talent to read/record the books. After taking the time to read the book and look over the material, the VO artist will be brought to a studio where the words will be recorded.
What Can VO Artists Make?
As you can see, there are lots of different types of voice over jobs available, so the BLS doesn’t really track wages for VO artists independently. Instead, VO artists are grouped with directors, producers, and actors. Based on the figures from 2009, actors are earning just under $30 per hour.
Since they are lumped in with all other actors, the BLS estimates may not necessarily appropriately reflect the industry of voice acting. According to SimplyHired, the average annual wage for voice actors is just under $50,000.
The BLS estimates are based on a 40-hour work week, or 2,080 hours annually- which means that the average hourly rate is just under $25 per hour- which is slightly under the industry average.
Of course, the BLS also states that anecdotal figures indicate that the hourly rate for voice actors is much higher- $300 to $500 for the first hour and then $200 to $350 for every hour after that. The discrepancy means that though the hourly rates are amazing- the number of hours that voice actors work is quite low. Most of the time, voice actors are not working 40 hour weeks.
Location Determines Earnings
For voice actors, location does mater. According to the BLS, the best states for a voice actor to be are North Carolina, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, and New York. The hourly earnings in these states is between $22-41.00.
Of course, the BLS notes that most jobs are actually located in New York, Houston, and Southern California. These areas often offer higher pay rates due to the higher cost of living.
Work is Inconsistent
One thing to keep in mind is that as a voice actor, you are not likely to find a salaried position. Instead, you will be working on a project-by-project basis. Some of these are a single line and others will last for days, weeks, or even months.
This means that it’s difficult to calculate yearly salaries because there’s no guarantee when or if you’ll get another project. Plus, work in the future may not necessarily pay the same as your previous work.
The bottom line is this: the voice over talent rates are definitely above the industry average. The financial potential is there- but the reality is you may or may not earn these high rates, because the competition is fierce. There may not be a need for your type of voice- then again, you may be in high demand.