How to Become a Voice-over Artist in the US

Voice-over artists lend their voices to audio and video productions to make the characters they are portraying come alive. Being a voice over artist is not just about having a unique, pleasant voice. It requires patience, determination and great marketing abilities.

What Does a Voice-over Artist Do?

Voice-over artists work in the film industry translating the production from the original language it was filmed in to other languages for audiences all over the world. They also work in animation productions making the characters come alive. They are also an asset in the marketing industry, where they use their voices to appeal to consumer audiences. Their specific duties include:

  • Translating movies and series into other languages so that sub-titles are not necessary
  • Lend their voices to animations and video games so that the characters come alive for audiences.
  • Read scripts for television and radio commercials using their vocal prowess as a marketing gimmick
  • Narrating instructional videos, audio books and documentaries.
  • Make recordings for corporate organizations, especially for phone answering service
  • Conducting announcements and public service informational tours for various clients.


To qualify as a voice-over artist, you do not need an academic degree. However, you might require the services of a voice coach. You will also need to practice as often as possible so that your delivery is excellent. Having others listen to and critique your work will help you sharpen your skills.

To work as a voice-over artist you will need:

  • A unique voice that you can manipulate to result in varying intonation, inflection and pace of speech.
  • Learn how to breath properly so as not to distract from your delivery.
  • Excellent spoken and written language skills so that you can read the script properly, inserting punctuation pauses and other stylistic devices as you speak.
  • Learning how to speak in different voices or using a variety of accents will greatly enhance your chances of landing an opportunity to work
  • A demo tape that showcases your ability when you go prospecting for opportunities.


To break into the industry and succeed as a voice-over artist, you will need:

  • Able to convey the message in a manner that has an emotional impact on the listeners
  • To be able to withstand criticism and to take correction positively
  • Patient, determined and self-driven to keep at it until you get your breakthrough opportunity.
  • Stamina that can carry you through a full day of auditions or production.
  • Excellent networking abilities to enhance your chances of landing more opportunities
  • Self-confidence and the ability to talk yourself up to prospective clients.


Voice-over artists are usually freelancers or contract workers not employees. However, where an artist gets a job on a television show then he is usually salaried. They are paid per hour per project. Additional work above the scheduled hours of the project is paid for separately.

Their pay is dependent on their suitability for a given role, the industry they are working for and the level at which they are reaching the audience. For example commercials and movie trailers on a national television network pay much higher than non-broadcast recordings for corporate organizations. Furthermore, if you belong to a union such as the Screen Actors Guild or the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists then you cannot take jobs where you are paid less than the prescribed minimum.

The hourly rate ranges as follows:

Entry level


Mid Career






20 percent discount
20 percent discount


Work Environment

Once you have secured an opportunity, you will spend most of your time in the studio going over the script and doing several takes until the client is satisfied. However, for the most part you will spend time working on your voice, undertaking voice training and making demo tapes to secure your next job. You might also have to spend a considerable amount of time in social forums such as dinners, conferences and parties, networking and making connections that can help further your career.

Career Growth and Job Outlook

The career growth opportunities for voice-over artists are limited as clients tend to use well-known people in the industry that they have previously worked with. In addition, the voice-over profession is dependent on the performance of the broadcast, marketing and entertainment industries, which is currently average. Nevertheless, you can improve your prospects by seeking out managers and representatives who can help you network, promote your work and get you meetings with studio executives, marketing managers and other relevant professionals.

If you have a unique and amazing voice, are eloquent and vivacious and would like a career that is extremely flexible with the possibility of huge breakthroughs, then you should consider becoming a voice-over artist.


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