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Professional Voice-Over Actor: Career Information and Requirements

Professional voice-over actors do not have any formal education requirements. Learn about the training, job duties and necessary skills to see if this is the right career for you.

No formal education is required to begin a career as a voice-over actor. These actors provide the voices for animated characters in TV shows and movies. A bachelor's degree or training in acting may be an asset to those who wish to enter this field.

Essential Information

Generally heard and not seen, professional voice-over actors play an important role in selling products and helping animated characters come alive in movies and television shows. Voice work requires a high degree of vocal versatility as well as attention to detail. There are no standard educational requirements for professional voice-over actors, but many of these professionals have completed some form of training or coursework in voice acting.

Required Education No standard requirements, but courses in voice acting may be beneficial
Other Requirements Vocal versatility as well as strong networking and auditioning skills
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 10% for all actors
Mean Salary (2015)* $37.47 per hour for all actors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Types of Work

Voice-over actors might contribute their talent to audiobooks, cartoons, commercials or video games. A voice-over actor might also find work on the radio as a disc jockey or talk show host. While radio and television provide many opportunities for voice-over work, actors are also needed to voice instructional DVDs for a wide range of products.

One can find work in local, national or international projects. A professional voice-over actor might find more opportunities and consistent work in a large city.

Work Environment

Voice-over work is usually freelance and work schedules can be inconsistent. Voice-over actors looking for work need to audition and send out demos frequently. For a fee, one may find work through a talent agency. While voice-over actors may travel to a main studio to record scripts, many actors might maintain a home studio and send sound files electronically.

While statistics specific to voice-over acting are not currently available, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that in May 2015, the mean hourly wage of actors was $37.47 (www.bls.gov). Freelance voice-over actors are usually paid by the hour, though a longer project, such as a television series, could be salaried.

The BLS predicted 10% employment growth for actors in general from 2014-2024, which is faster than average when compared to all occupations. According to this agency, employment for voice actors was situated mainly in southern California, with work also available in cities like New York and Houston, Texas.

Requirements

While there is no standard educational background for voice actors, many actors seeking voice work have training in stage acting. Courses in voice acting are available both online and in-person. In addition to learning voice work techniques, most courses also discuss self-promotion and teach students how to create a demo.

Voice-over actors should be able to promote their own work and have strong networking skills. With home recording equipment, a voice-over actor can remain competitive and quickly create and send out demos over the Internet. Versatile voice-over actors, such as those who can perform accents or play multiple roles in one script, might have strongest prospects for employment.

A voice-over actor needs to warm up and practice consistently to prevent voice strain, especially when attending multiple recording sessions per day. As with all types of actors, voice-over actors should be prepared to audition and be rejected frequently before landing a role.

Actors face inconsistent work schedules, must compete for roles and may be required to travel for work. Voice-over actors who are versatile will have the best chances for employment. While the job growth for all actors is expected to be faster than average from 2014 to 2024, most of the opportunities will be in Los Angeles and New York.


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