How Much Do Voice Actors Make?

Learn how much voice actors can expect to make and how to create passive income streams with ElevenLabs.

If you're considering a career in the voice acting industry, you may be wondering how much do voice actors make?

A voice actor's salary is based on many factors, from talent to type of voice work, and the ability to market yourself. Voice actors can experience massive earning potential, and a voice actor salary can range from tens of thousands of dollars to six figures a year.

In this article, we'll explore how to make your voice talent work for you, whether you're an entry-level voice actor or an experienced voice actor, the kind of voice actor's salary you can expect, and what the highest-paid voice actors earn.

Types of Voice Acting Work

There are several types of voice acting work that you can pursue if you have voice talent. To start voice acting and recording, consider which of the following you'd be most interested in:

Video Games

The greatest niche talent exists in video game voice acting. A recognisable, interesting, or unique voice in a game that is loved by many all over the world can boost your earning potential.

Video game voice actors such as Charles Martinet (Mario) and Nolan North (Nathan Drake in Uncharted) are instantly recognisable when they appear in other video game franchises, and have received notoriety, high salaries, and greater opportunities from voice acting in these projects.

Voiceover Actors

Choosing to pursue the pure voiceover route may be lucrative, too. There are plenty of opportunities for narration, radio artists, audiobook narration, advertisements, and marketing for a voiceover actor. While this work may not be as exciting as voicing a character in a video game, it is much more stable.

Animated Feature Film Voice Actors

Animated feature films from studios such as Pixar generate massive revenue with movies such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Monsters Inc. These films often feature a large cast, increasing the number of potential roles available for voice talent.

Cartoons

Cartoons are a great voice acting industry to enter, as several characters in popular animated TV shows are voiced by the same voice actor, multiplying the work and income you can receive.

For example, in The Simpsons, voice actors such as Harry Shearer, Dan Castellaneta, and Nancy Cartwright each voice multiple characters like Bart Simpson, Ned Flanders, Reverend Lovejoy, and most importantly, Homer Simpson. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone voice most of the cast.

Everything You Need to Know About Voice Actor Salaries

When you begin your voice actor career, you need to know as much as possible about earning the voice actor salary you deserve.

To create a steady stream of income from voiceover work, you must charge for either total hours of recordings or word count. Your annual salary will vary based on this and other factors such as geographical location, broadcasting rights, and unions.

While the pay may not always be steady or align with industry standards, the job of a voice actor offers many perks, including being able to work from home, on your own flexible schedule, and support yourself and your family doing something fun and creative.

Broadcast vs. Non-Broadcast

Broadcast projects such as a 30-second TV or radio commercial can pay between $300 - $600 based on market distribution and screen time. Conversely, non-broadcast projects like audiobooks generally pay by word count and pay an average of $250 per hour of recorded content in a recording studio.

Broadcast jobs like commercials may offer greater market distribution and, therefore, make your voice more popular among potential clients. Non-broadcast projects like audiobooks are likelier to be more creative and open-ended and may start a long relationship with the client when they need more voiceover work in the future.

Union vs. Non-union

Choosing to pursue voice acting as part of a union or solo (non-union) can change your rate of pay substantially. However, joining a union also means paying due fees or union rates, not being able to undertake certain projects, or setting your own rates. Unions offer their voice actors higher-paying jobs and better job security, such as in the United States, where SAG AFTRA members receive residuals and royalties.

If you're wondering how much voice actors make, it depends somewhat on whether you are a union member or not. Union voice actors make around $59,000 annually, while non-union voice talent can expect to take home $40,000.

How to Set Your Price for Voice Acting Work

When you start to begin to voice act, you should set a rate for your work that reflects your talent, time needed, and equipment used.

If you're working from home, you should calculate an hourly rate formula that includes various factors like labor, equipment use and cost, marketing efforts like placing ads or joining a subscription website to find jobs, and factor that into a script length or project length to get the overall invoice cost.

Develop a rate sheet to use when quoting to potential clients that includes pricing for various projects like commercials, audiobooks, or narration and your minimum price.

It's also a good idea to begin a portfolio and keep it constantly updated so you can show your diversity, build out your network, and improve your skills. Consider your experience level and upgrade yourself as time goes on and you gain experience. If you've purchased studio time, equipment for home use such as microphones and editing software, this can also contribute to how much you charge.

Your vocal health should not be neglected, and you should protect your instrument and set a limit for how many voiceover gigs or how many hours you can take on within a certain time frame so as to not strain your vocal cords. The average voice actor may choose to only accept 5-10 voiceover work projects a month to protect their voice from overuse.

Earning Passive Income on ElevenLabs

However, this cap on the amount of projects a voice actor can reasonably take on is about to change. Now, with AI technology, voice actors are finding innovative ways to take on new projects and earn passive income.

ElevenLabs is the only AI tool that gives voice actors royalties when their voice is used. In a nutshell, voice actors upload their voice to the platform and then set their rates for payment when a user uses their voice in a project. The platform is completely configurable, meaning the rates and notice period of your agreement with ElevenLabs are on your terms.

The default rate on ElevenLabs starts at ~1.1 cents per 1k characters but can reach up to 3 cents per 1k characters. Voice actors can also set themselves a custom rate that determines how much they're paid—a great choice if you already have a large following or an unusual voice.

However, the primary benefit of ElevenLabs is that it allows voice actors to earn a passive income whenever their voice is used. By having your voice in the library, your voice could chosen as the narrator for a major audiobook publisher, animator, or video game creator, meaning incredible exposure and a passive paycheck.

Top voice actors can earn large sums on ElevenLabs. In March 2024, the top voice actor on the platform earns approximately $4k/month.

Final Thoughts

Now we've discovered how much voice actors make, the salaries offered, and how to price yourself and your talent; the sky is the limit.

Voice acting is a business, and your ability is your main source of income. If you have a strong catalogue of voices you can use for a voiceover job, create new and unique voices for video games or animation, there is no end to the money making opportunities you will receive.

With ElevenLabs, you can boost your earning potential by adding your voice to the ElevenLabs Voice Library and choosing cash rewards or character credits to earn when your voice is used.

Supplement your salary with your AI voice. For professional voice actors, the ElevenLabs platform offers licensing deals where we collaborate with you to create a high-quality ElevenLabs Default Voice with guaranteed earnings from up-front fees.

Record your voice in a studio with us to create the most realistic AI voice possible and become the next big thing in voice acting. Join now.

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