Video marketing is taking over the online world. By 2022, there will be around one million minutes of video floating around the internet per second. If you’re in the voice acting industry or trying to get into one, that’s good news for you. The more videos are created, the more voice actors are needed.
If you’re still new and unfamiliar with voice acting, stay tuned and pick up a thing or two about it, who knows you might end up starting a career as a voice actor. So, what exactly is a voice actor? In short, a voice actor is a trained professional whose job is to provide the voice of a character in explainer videos, animation, dubbed foreign movies and other kinds of videos.
Notice the word “trained professional” there, you can’t become a voice actor just because you have a voice and know how to speak well. In this article, you’ll learn about all the necessary skills that are needed to become a professional voice actor. But before we get started, let’s take a look at the average earnings in the voice acting industry.
How Much Does a Voice Actor Make?
Measuring the average earnings of voice actors can be tricky, as they’re usually freelancers and independent contractors, rather than full-time employees. They’re similar to normal actors in a way, meaning that more experienced and well-known voice actors will be paid more than novices.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, voice actors earned $17.50 per hour on average. For comparison, radio and TV announcers have an average salary of $35,360 in 2017.
It is easier, however, to look at some of the successful and famous voice actors’ earnings and net worth:
- Seth MacFarlane, a voice actor whose popular because of his role on the TV show Family Guy is estimated to be worth $250 million.
- Trey Parker, the co-creator and voice actor of the animated show South Park, has an estimated net worth of $500 million.
- Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer Simpson on the popular show The Simpsons, is said to have received $300,000 per episode.
Skills a Voice Actor Must Have
Like most professions, you need to master both the technical and soft skills in order to succeed in the voice acting industry. First, let’s learn about the 5 technical skills you have to learn before applying for your first voice acting job.
The first thing you need to learn is enunciation, which is the act of pronouncing words. As a voice actor, you’re required to speak clearly and distinctly. If you mumble, not only is it annoying for the audience and makes you appear to be unconfident, but it can also cause phrase mix-ups and misunderstandings among the viewers.
2) Tempo Management
Another essential skill in voice acting is tempo management. Don’t talk too fast like a salesperson, but don’t be too slow either as it can bore the audience. According to Clearly Speaking, the ideal pace of speech is between 140-160 words per minute. Just like bad enunciation, speaking too fast will make the listeners lose the clarity of your message.
In verbal communication, intonation is important because stressing on the wrong word can cause the meaning and the mood of the sentence becomes entirely different from what you intend to. The word “really?” can come across as either enthusiastic or angry depending on how you say it.
Take a look at this example:
“He isn’t going home anytime soon”
This simple sentence has different meanings depending on how the intonation is being put on:
- Stressing on the word “he” could imply that someone else is going home soon, but not that particular person.
- Emphasizing “isn’t” could mean that the person being talked about would never come home.
- Putting an emphasis on “going home” would likely mean that he’s not going home, but rather going somewhere else.
- Stressing on the words “anytime soon” means that he won’t come home for a long time.
4) Voice Characterization
Just like its name, the voice acting is still acting, which means that you have to be able to voice different characters. As a voice actor, your job is to create the perfect sound of a character and bring it to life. For this skill, consider going to vocal and acting coaches to learn directly from the professionals.
5) Speak in Multiple Languages and Accents
Voice acting is growing on a global scale, which means that if you could speak different languages and accents, your chance of being employed will be much higher. According to Voices, the demand for Non-English voice-overs grew at a higher rate (60%) than English voice-overs (43%).
The study also found that besides asking for more diverse languages, the market also demands more voice actors with localized accents. It turns out that the audience feels more comfortable listening to people who speak just like them.
Here are the top growing languages and accents’ demand according to the study:
- Australian English by 22%
- British English by 12%
- Latin-American Spanish by 11%
- Canadian French by 3%
After mastering the technical skills, don’t start a voice acting career yet unless your mental game is at the top level. Here are the necessary soft skills you need to possess to survive in the crazy world of voice acting.
Most voice actors aren’t full-time employees, they’re freelancers and independent contractors who work on a project basis. Because you work on your own, it’s essential for you to have an entrepreneurship mindset.
You have to know yourself and your competitors’ weaknesses and strengths, how to brand and market yourself, how to strategically place your positioning and pricing, how to make friends and build relationships with people in the entertainment industry, and so on.
7) Work Ethic
As mentioned before, you’re working alone― no one’s going to tell you to improve your skills to be a better voice actor. It all comes down to your own work ethic. Are you willing to spend more hours practicing and improving? Or are you going to succumb to the distractions of working from home and lose your focus?
If you want to make it big in the voice acting industry, you need to maintain a high level of work ethic that enables you to improve your skills, develop your personal branding, as well as build your network and connections.
Before starting your voice acting journey, ask yourself is this what you really want? If you want to become a successful voice actor, you have to be persistent and give the best of you. Keep moving forward in spite of failures, rejections, and heartbreaks.
Working without a fixed pay while having to compete against tons of talented voice actors across the universe can be stressful. That’s why it becomes so important for you to have a never say die attitude in achieving your goals and dreams.
As someone who just turns professional, you have to be adaptable and seize every opportunity that arises. Don’t set your price and idealism too high, although you still need to keep some sort of principle and pride intact to keep you away from being walked over.
While it’s true that keeping the focus on achieving your goals is important, shutting off the door for unforeseen opportunities might kill your career. Remember that in voice acting, it’s not the journey that matters, but the destination. However you do it, your end goal is to become a better voice actor.
Last but not least, you have to possess self-confidence and inner beliefs. If not yourself, who else is going to believe in your ability as a voice actor? Without self-confidence, all of your technical skills will be thrown out of the window. Insecurity will show in your work, as you become more likely to stutter, speak too fast, or mumble.
It’s okay to be nervous and to make a few mistakes in the early stages of your career, just keep on practicing. If you keep consistent, your self-confidence will be naturally built as time goes by and as you gain more experience in voice acting.
As long as people keep making content like YouTube videos, explainer videos, demo videos, commercials, podcasts, animated movies, and audiobooks, the demand for voice actors will keep on increasing. That’s why voice acting is a good career prospect to pursue in the next few years― start now before it gets too crowded.
But before you get into the business, you need to learn and master 5 technical skills of a voice actor first, which are:
- Clear enunciation
- Tempo management
- Voice characterization
- Ability to speak in multiple languages and accents
However, mastering those skills is not enough when you want to compete with other more experienced voice actors. Your mental game also needs to be at the top level.
Having these qualities will definitely help you in the long run:
- Strong work ethic
Mastering those 10 skills shows that you’re ready to compete in the business. Just keep in mind that the road to success isn’t a straight line, but filled with circuitous paths. In order to succeed, you have to overcome the hardships, learn from your mistakes, and keep moving.
Learning from another voice actor like Evan Schmitt will also be beneficial for your career.