Thinking about getting into the voice over industry? Know first that it’s very competitive. It generally takes 1-3 years before you begin to see an ROI for your investment in craft, equipment, and marketing and the average voice over actor in North America makes about $33K a year. Rising above the crowd to book the work takes many things, the most important of which is voice over training. Be careful what you pay for. If a company or coach is charging just for a consultation or offering things that sound too good to be true, then it probably is.
Certifications, degrees, and diplomas won’t offer a guarantee of success, but a degree in a related field may give you a leg up. Television, advertising, acting, sound engineers all have a piece of the puzzle already in place. A degree is the most expensive route you can take and it won’t be specific to voice over, so you are likely to need additional training.
In fact, my Theatre School program profs in university repeatedly told us that was the start of our life-long training. There is no such thing as too much knowledge when it comes to voice over. This is a craft and professionals never stop learning. Whether it’s a new and challenging role or a learning curve to climb because of a shift in the market, get used to taking courses, researching, and learning new things every day.
Online Voice Over Training, Courses, and Coaches
Many established and successful voice over artists offer voice over coaching services, including myself. Ranging from group coaching to private custom sessions. Be wary of scams, inexperienced coaches, and teachers who may take your money without providing value.
Founded in 2014 by Christina Milizia and David Rosenthal, GVAA (Global Voice Acting Academy) is a reputable source of voice over lessons, offering live or pre-recorded classes as well as one on one sessions. Some private schools offer diplomas, such as On the Mic Training.
Gravy For The Brain offers subscription-based online courses, which is a big benefit. If you don’t like the course or don’t find it useful for some reason you can cancel your subscription and stop paying. Gravy For The Brain’s beginner services are particularly useful, and they have a lot of resources and even some free material.
The UK arm was founded by Hugh Edwards and Peter Dickson and it has branches in the US headed up by J. Michael Collins, and the key contacts in Canada are Bev Standing and Graeme Spicer. Every year they hold conferences – this year I’ll be offering a course at their Dallas conference called “Preparing for Success: A Key to Landing Your First Lucrative Voice Over Job.”
No Single Voice Over Training Session or Workshop Will Teach You Everything
While there is no standard education requirement to pursue a job as a voice over artist there is a lot to know and you might find yourself at sea in the beginning without some kind of education or coaching. Acting is always going to be a big part of voice over, but there are other factors as well. Roughly 5 to 10% of voice over is based on your voice, aka your actual chords.
Plus, another 5-10% on techniques like breathing, honing your voice, diction, and pronunciation. Learning how to keep tension out of your throat to sustain talking throughout a whole day of recording is also necessary. I break my craftwork into technical and performance goals. There are a lot of beginner voice actor tools to explore before diving in.
Get into Acting, Improv Classes, or Stand-Up Comedy
If you are a beginner considering a voice over career or just looking for an affordable way to hone your acting skills, then sign up at your local community theatre for acting or improvisation classes. It will give you a good idea of whether voice acting is a route you would like to take, and if you’re an industry veteran, it keeps your skills sharp. On your road to discovery, look for things that hold you back and be open to letting go of them.
Early in my path, I discovered a behavior pattern that worked well for me in childhood but held me back in both my professional and personal life. I found being open to digging into my own issues helped remove barriers for more truthful performances and cleared the way for more honest relationships as well.
At this point in the game (30+ years in for me) I still enjoy webinars, courses, and workshops on various aspects of the craft. New or different perspectives keep my work fresh. Reminders from others of aspects I may have neglected help me dig deeper to remain relevant and where I want to be in my field.