Some of the most popular TV shows today aren’t ones with live-action actors; they are shows that use voice actors. Those shows are usually animated for entertainment for adults and children alike.
Have you ever wondered how those fun cartoons became family favorites? It has quite a bit to do with the voice actors who play the memorable characters.
With so many shows created every year, production companies need voice actors to fulfill the roles of these new characters. The longevity of some TV shows goes on for years, meaning job security for voice actors.
If TV shows aren’t your thing, there are countless movies that require voice acting as well. The voice acting pool is quite large. However, the most important part is standing out among the crowd. You need to learn how you can be the unique voice that some of these production companies are looking for to make their visions come to life.
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What is a Voice Actor?
A voice actor takes over the role of a character and brings that character to life by being their voice and personality. This is usually done with animated characters, but there are also voice acting jobs for more than just television like radio theater, audiobooks, games, and anime characters. Live-action productions also need a voice-over artist to translate a movie or show into a different language. It’s the same concept: become the character and speak as if you were them.
There is more to voice acting than just reading lines off of a script. Your tone must match the scene and the character’s traits and personality.
For example, you can’t give a husky villain a sheepishly small voice. He must be grand, fearful, and authoritative. This means the voice actor must find that voice and match the character’s demeanor. While no one will physically see you on the screen, your voice will bring your character’s story to life.
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Does a Voice Actor Require a License?
In general, voice acting does not require a degree or license in order to get paid. There are times when a voice actor with a performing arts (or similar) degree would be chosen over someone who doesn’t have a degree. But not having a degree isn’t a complete deal-breaker.
It is important to note that as a voice actor, you do not own the rights to any recordings you perform on a job. Production license restrictions will apply.
Other Voice Actor Requirements and Qualifications
While not required, it is a good idea to have some knowledge or training in the acting world. Voice actors will be acting as their characters. You will need to have an understanding of how to be an actor in general.
Voice actors, like any actor, need to have patience, determination, and a “go get ’em” attitude to pursue this career. Acting isn’t always an easy career to get into unless you know the right people. Take that into consideration when pursuing voice acting.
Voice Actor Salary or Pay Expectations
According to ZipRecruiter, the national annual average salary of a voice actor is $76,297. On the low end, there are yearly salaries reported at $13,500. However, there are also annual salaries reported as high as $217,000. The salary will vary based on your experience as a voice actor.
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How to Become a Voice Actor With No Experience
If you are interested in learning how to become a voice actor with no experience, take a look at the following steps to get you started on the right foot in your new career.
1. Take Voice Acting Classes
Taking classes is a great way to understand voice acting, and you need to develop your talent so that you can have the best chance at landing jobs. Remember that you’ll be doing more than just reading a script. It is your job to make the characters come to life and be relatable to those who are watching.
Think of a voice acting class as an investment made to further your career. You need to develop your skills in order to do well, and taking a class or hiring someone to help you is the best way to do that.
Nancy Cartwright teaches voice acting in an in-depth masterclass. She doesn’t just tell you how to do it, she shows you by pairing her iconic voice with animated characters. Learn from a professional and get your voice acting career off the ground with her class.
2. Find Your Voice
Most professional voice actors are known for the specific type of character they play. Whether your voice lends best to quiet, shy characters, or loud, belligerent ones, it’s important to keep your style consistent as a beginner voice-over artist. That doesn’t mean that there is no room to grow in your career, but finding your fallback voice can help you establish a foothold in this fast-paced industry.
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Practice, practice, and practice some more. Spend time watching shows and movies that require voice acting and taking notes. Research famous voice actors and review what kind of characters they have played. This might help you learn what made them so famous for this job.
Practice with friends, family, or perform for an audience. The more you practice, the more versatile you can become which leads to even more voice acting roles.
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4. Build Your Resume, Testimonials, and Portfolio
Search around your area for any gigs you can participate in for free or heavily discounted so that you can build your resume. Get as much experience under your belt as possible so that your resume proves that you have had voice-acting jobs.
After each job you complete, ask for testimonials from the production company or person you reported to. Testimonials speak about your performance, how well you took direction on the set, and how your voice helped make the movie or show a success. Those reviews will go a long way when you are applying for higher-paying jobs in the future.
Building a voice acting portfolio is much like building a freelance writing portfolio. Add links to the published versions of your best performances and use your portfolio to help potential clients learn about your style and talents.
5. Record Several Voice-Over Demos
It’s not enough to just have one or two samples on hand. You need to explore your voice and all the capabilities you have with it. As a voice actor, you will need to show potential employers that you’re not afraid to push the boundaries and become what they need you to be in order to produce the right voice. Challenge yourself and record several demos to add to your portfolio.
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6. Audition for Voice Acting Jobs
As you are auditioning for roles, be prepared for the potential of hearing many “no’s” before you finally hear your first “yes.” It’s just the way it is in the acting world. But don’t give up! Keep attending auditions, practicing, and enhancing your skills.
Questions New Voice Actors Are Asking
Get even more information about what it takes to become a voice actor by learning from the most common questions new voice actors are asking.
Is it hard to get a job in voice acting?
Just like acting, it can be challenging to get your big break and make it in the industry. However, what might be hard for someone else could be easier for you. Everyone has their own challenges to overcome. It’s up to you to decide if you are up for it.
Voice acting is a promising career. It might be challenging to find higher-paying jobs, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
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Is it fun to be a voice actor?
The term “fun” is subjective and will be different for everyone. You won’t know if voice acting is fun for you unless you try it.
Take into consideration that some of the jobs may be more fun than others. Just like anything else in life, this job is what you make of it.
Can I practice voice acting at home?
Yes, you can practice voice acting at home. Practice in front of a mirror, record yourself on your phone, or practice in front of your family. You can even go as far as performing in front of others over video calls. There are several techniques you can learn by practicing at home and listening to yourself.
How do I know if I am a good voice actor?
You would make a good voice actor if you know how to portray all the emotions of a human, can relate to a character on a show or movie, and can read. All of these are required to be a good voice actor.
Who Should Become a Voice Actor?
A person who has the drive, determination, willingness to learn, and the ability to take criticism should become a voice actor. This career is for those who can work hard and really put themselves out there. It is not a career for someone who is looking to get paid to do nothing.
You should search for other job opportunities if you are shy. You have to be willing to put yourself out there, face possible rejection, and stretch out of your comfort zone to fit the character you will be playing. You will also meet many new people along the way in your career and it is important for you to establish lasting relationships with them so that they consider you for future projects.
A voice actor has a unique opportunity to bring enjoyment to audiences of all ages. It isn’t something you do for the paycheck alone. It’s something you have to be passionate about in order to be successful. Start with Nancy Cartwright’s online masterclass to set out on your way to becoming a voice actor.