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Whether you excel at character voices or have a natural, pleasant tone that’s ideal for voiceover work, voice acting can be an exciting career that lets you dive into a wide range of projects. But is it lucrative? Here’s everything you need to know about setting rates, increasing earning potential, and knowing your value as an aspiring voice actor.
What are the basics of dubbing?
It is an area where a performer uses their voice to tell a story or provide narration for fictional and non-fictional plays. It can range from bringing a cartoon character to life to guiding viewers through a documentary. For become a voice actorprofessionals need to have a distinct yet clear voice that can convey a wide range of emotions, as well as, in some cases, authority and relatability.
Voice actors can find work in:
- Video games
- Various multimedia projects
While voice acting opens the door to an exciting range of endeavors, each opportunity comes with its own level of earning potential. Voice actors cannot set an hourly rate at all levels. Most often, the project itself and the experience of the actor will determine how much they earn.
How much do voice actors earn on average?
Aspiring talent should expect payout to vary depending on experience, project, and type of role. Dubbing covers a wide range of mediums, time commitments and expertise.
The prices depend on:
- The actor: A-list actors with well-known voices and established portfolios, such as Morgan Freeman, can earn a much higher salary for documentary work than an entry-level narrator.
- The project: The complexity and scope of a project have an impact on an actor’s income. Creating multiple character voices and dynamic emotional journeys for an audiobook, for example, takes more effort and depth than recording a car dealership slogan.
- The time commitment: Recording a full-length animated film takes a lot longer than a 15-second radio commercial.
- The word counts: Longer scripts require more time and effort to record than shorter ones, increasing a voice actor’s earning potential.
- Use of recording: Local TV and radio spots generally pay at a lower rate than national broadcasts. Similarly, spots that run for a limited time will also pay less than those meant to run in perpetuity.
According to Voice, Sauce for the brainand RabbitStudiohere are some expected beaches:
- Radio spots: $250 to $350
- TV commercials: $100 to $10,000
- Audio book : $2,000 to $5,000
- Video games: $200 to $350/hr
- Main role in an animated feature film: $10,000
How much do voice actors make per year?
Recording by Nolan North for “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Zombie” courtesy of Treyarch
The voice actor’s annual salary will be commensurate with the actor’s talent and experience. If you find work primarily in local broadcasting, for example, you’ll see a significant difference compared to those who regularly book feature films.
According to ZipRecruiterindustry averages include:
- Entry-level voice actors: $13,500 to $31,999 per year
- Mid-Level Voice Actors: $69,000 to $87,499 per year
- Experienced voice actors: $111,500 to $199,000 per year
What qualifies a voice actor as intermediate versus experienced? An experienced voice actor will have accumulated considerable work that showcases their talent and range. They may also have found a niche in the industry, such as explainer videos, commercial voiceover, or video games. The more gigs you book, the higher the rate you can charge.
So how much do voice actors make per month? All things considered, the average voice actor can hope to win about $6,358 per month or about $37 per hour. Aspiring voice actors should expect a lower monthly fee until they have established themselves as a credible and reliable talent. Starting out as an entry-level voice actor will earn you around $1,916 per month or around $12 per hour, but there’s plenty of time to increase your future earning potential.
How do I set my rate?
When you are fair start your career as a voice actorit’s important to set a rate that reflects your willingness to book gigs without devaluing your time and talent.
One way to determine this is to use a simple hourly rate formula. Although the pay range between psychics may vary, your time is a bankable constant. Consider the length of the script to see how long it will take you to save and start from there.
This will give you a basic idea of an hourly rate that works for you based on the time spent. You can also consider setting fixed prices per project, such as $100 per radio spot. These prices should take into account not only the time needed to record, but also whether or not you need to go to a recording studio and how long the recording will be used. If you set prices per project, creating a price sheet is an easy way to communicate with potential clients.
Other pricing factors to consider:
- Your experience: If you’re just starting out, you may want to consider a lower hourly rate to help you gain experience and build your portfolio. Setting a lower starting rate can help you get your foot in the door so you can prove your talent.
- Current configuration of your equipment: Consider how your profit margins would be affected if the job required an investment in specialized or new equipment. Get an understanding of the job requirements from the start.
- Your vocal health: Voice actors need to protect their instruments – it’s neither practical nor healthy to strain your vocal chords through overuse. Be realistic about how many voiceover gigs you can book in a given week or month without overloading your voice.
- Your marketing actions: Showing up to clients takes time off the check-in, so think about how many hours a week you want to spend finding and pitching gigs.
- Your relationships: If you find yourself working with a client regularly, offering a repeat business discount can keep you in mind for future projects.
The salary of voice actors in a month or a year is also determined by whether the actor joins a union or not. Unionized jobs typically pay royalties (or dub residuals), while non-unionized jobs are more likely to pay one-time amounts. SAG AFTRA is the union voice actors can join in the United States.
How can I increase my earning potential as a voice actor?
Becoming a successful voice actor requires more than a unique voice; you also have to have an entrepreneurial spirit. You will need to market your talents, build a network of clients, and create a steady stream of income. Treat your acting career like a business so you can focus on creating a viable income opportunity.
As you are looking for work, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Several small jobs against a big job: While the lure of landing a major role can’t be denied, booking multiple small jobs is a great way to generate steady business and grow your body of work.
- Stay open to opportunities: Auditioning for many different types of roles helps define your talent and your niche. You may find that your voice naturally lends itself to audiobook narration rather than commercial work, for example. Try different projects to see what you like the most.
- Increase prices accordingly: At some point, your wallet and your experience will demand a higher price. Every year or so, evaluate your hourly rate or fee schedule to make sure it reflects your skills and expertise. Your rates should match where you are in your career path.
Who are the highest paid actors?
Celebrities often make the most money doing voiceovers, but even those who aren’t famous have the potential to become top earners. Nancy Cartwright and Dan Castellanetafor example, who voice Bart and Homer Simpson respectively in “The Simpsons”, have individually earned up to $400,000 per episode.