Voice acting income: what you need to know

Voice-acting salaries and how to make more money in the industry

Voice acting can be a profitable career choice if you invest time, energy, and resources into becoming a better voice actor. From networking to passive income streams, this article covers everything you need to know about voice-acting salaries and how to make more money in the industry.

  • Voice acting has become a popular career choice due to several benefits, like flexible working schedules, creative work, and the opportunity to earn a substantial income.
  • A voice actor's salary can depend on many factors, from experience level to reputation.
  • Aside from industry trends and gig availability, voice actors can take several steps to make more money in their chosen niches.

What is voice acting?

Voice acting is the art of performing using one's voice, either for entertainment or informational purposes.

Voice actors and voiceover artists take on a variety of projects, including voiceovers for characters in animated films, video game voice acting, commercial voiceovers, film dubbing for foreign audiences, audiobook narration, educational content, and even pre-recorded voiceovers for public use (e.g., train arrival announcements, voice-activated elevators, smart assistants, etc.)

If you're wondering whether voice acting is a profitable occupation, look no further than this voice acting income guide to help you get acquainted with how much voice actors make, what factors a voice actor's salary depends on, and how to book higher-paying jobs in the voice acting industry.

How much do voice actors make?

If you're considering entering the voice acting industry, you'll be pleased to know that professional voice actors can earn a sustainable and substantial income. The amount will usually depend on factors like experience level, exposure, and quality of work.

The average annual voice actor salary ranges from $11,000 to $160,000, depending on several factors (experience level, working hours, part-time vs. full-time, etc.). However, qualified and reliable voice actors can expect to make around $8000 per month on average or $2000 a week (with a standard hourly rate of $50/hour).

However, some of the highest-paid voice actors can also make six figures, including "The Simpsons" voice actors Nancy Cartwright (Bart) and Dan Castellaneta (Homer), who have earned up to $400,000 each per episode. Needless to say, that's significantly higher than the average voice actor’s salary.

It's also worth noting that some voice acting niches are more profitable than others, with voice actors working on animated feature films and video game voice actors earning substantially higher incomes.

Factors that go into a voice actor’s salary

Industry averages aside, several key factors can influence your voice-acting salary and income. From your level of professionalism to the type of gigs you book, it's essential to be informed of how internal and external factors can influence your income.

Experience level

Regardless of your chosen career path, your level of experience in the industry will often dictate how much people are willing to pay for your services. The more experienced you are, the better, which is why we recommend starting voice actors to take many gigs to build up their portfolios. Likewise, experience level also dictates how comfortable you feel charging more for your work and how you can advocate for your rates when negotiating with clients.

Reputation & credibility

Another key factor that determines your income as a voice actor is your reputation and credibility in the industry. If you're known as a reliable and credible professional, clients are more likely to refer you to others in their network and put in a good word for you.

On the contrary, if you're known for missing deadlines, submitting half-hearted projects (this goes for less influential clients as well), and being difficult to work with, clients are likely to consider you as a last-case option rather than someone they're genuinely excited to collaborate with and invest money in to.

Presence in the industry

When it comes to the entertainment and media industry, networking is essential! If you're active in the voice acting industry, attending events and conferences, and establishing solid connections with other voice actors, casting directors, and clients, you'll likely book more gigs and receive better pay. However, don't fall into the trap of reducing your rates as a "friendly favor;" keep things professional.

Qualifications

Another aspect clients pay attention to when deciding whether to accept or decline higher rates is your list of qualifications. Have you completed any voice acting courses? Have you invested in growing as a professional? Have you taken on various projects or only remained in one niche?

Do you have a degree in performing arts or a similar field? Although a university degree isn't a necessity nowadays, completing courses and obtaining certifications can help raise your income.

Confidence

Last but certainly not least, a lot of your financial success as a voice actor often boils down to your confidence. If you're upfront and good at marketing yourself as a reliable, professional, and talented voiceover artist, you are more likely to convince clients that your services are "worth" investing in.

On the contrary, if you're highly qualified but tend to suffer from imposter syndrome, clients will also pick up on this and begin doubting whether you are worth the investment.

Steps to become a high paid voice actor

Although your income as a voice actor doesn't always depend on your efforts alone, considering external factors like industry rates, demand, and work availability, there are active steps you can take to increase your chances of earning more money as a voiceover actor.

Develop a solid online presence

The highest-paid voice actors and voice acting coaches all have a powerful and engaging online presence. From Facebook to Instagram to LinkedIn to Twitter, ensure your online presence accurately represents your skills and talents as a voice actor.

Moreover, consider signing up for websites and platforms dedicated to voice actors, as these can help you book more gigs and boost your exposure.

Invest in vocal coaching

Enhance your natural voice talent and skills by working with a professional voice acting coach. Most vocal coaches also have extensive experience in the industry themselves. This experience allows them to offer the best vocal exercises and advice to develop your skills and begin securing profitable gigs. In addition, they'll also be able to advise you on how to take care of your vocal health and preserve your vocal cords.

Make use of technology

Voice acting can be a demanding profession, putting strain on your vocal chords and using your physical voice for hours a day.

For many voice actors, there's a natural limit their voice can take before the earnings inevitably drop. However, new AI tools like ElevenLabs are changing this, by offering hyper-realistic voice cloning as an alternative.

Voice actors can now upload just 30 seconds of their distinctive voice and use ElevenLabs to clone it to be used in projects over and over again. This cuts down lengthy recording times and increases the earning potential from projects by allowing voice actors to expand their output. Check out how it works below:

Moreover, when you clone your voice with ElevenLabs, it's still your voice - no one else can use it, and you own it 100%. However, if you're looking for a unique voice for your project to expand your offerings, you can find a whole range of voices in the ElevenLabs voice library.

Whether that project requires a unique accent that's out of your skillset or Juliet's voice to your Romeo's voice, you can search ElevenLabs for a voice that fits the bill and offers a whole new range of projects to your clients. That's how the highest-paid voice actors harness the latest technology to expand and improve their voiceover quality.

Gain experience

To become a well-known and experienced voice actor, you need to obtain, well, more experience. Unfortunately, this might mean starting out with low paid jobs, but will a 'can do' attitude and a focus on quality, you'll soom find this experience pays off.

Don't pay attention to the monetary value of starting voiceover gigs until you've established a name for yourself. This aspect is particularly important if you're an entry-level voice actor.

Consider hiring a voice acting agent

New and experienced voiceover actors can benefit from working with a professional agent familiar with all of the ins and outs of the voice acting industry, including financial aspects. An agent can help you book higher-paying gigs, negotiate rates on your behalf, and give you valuable advice on navigating the financial side of voice acting.

Build a community

When it comes to getting your name out there and establishing a solid reputation, networking is an invaluable strategy. From online networking through platforms like LinkedIn and Reddit to attending networking events in real life, don't hesitate to reach out to agents, casting directors, and other voice actors.

Likewise, attending voice acting industry events can catapult your success and present unparalleled networking opportunities with professional and high paid voice actors, potential clients, and even household names.

Invest in a high-quality recording studio

High-paid voice actors are often able to charge higher rates due to the high quality of their audio. Whether you're looking to work from home or rent a recording studio, make sure you have high-quality voiceover equipment at your disposal, including a professional microphone, studio headphones, recording and editing software, and a laptop or desktop computer to record, process, and edit your audio.

Establish passive income streams

Aside from taking active steps to secure a high salary or rate, consider using your talents to generate passive income on the side. It's a common misconception that only entrepreneurs can have a stable passive income stream - you can achieve the same result (if not better) as a voice actor.

Through ElevenLabs' voice actor payouts program, you can upload your voice to the platform's Voice Lab and allow voice cloning. That way, whenever another user likes your voice and uses it for a project, you will receive a payout, with the amount depending on the rate you set (default or custom).

There's no need to worry about potential misuse. Set your boundaries by selecting what types of projects or contexts you don't permit your voice to be used for, and our team of live moderators will prevent that from happening.

Don't give up!

Many career paths are challenging, and voice acting is no exception. However, voice acting has many benefits that 9-5 jobs don't offer.

If you're starting in the industry and feel you have a long way to go - don't be discouraged. Even household names in the industry were once new voice actors living paycheck to paycheck.

Moreover, we're lucky to live in the digital age, where helpful information like this guide is easily accessible. As they say, knowledge is power, so be informed about the voice acting industry moving forward.

Final thoughts

We hope this article provided you with some much-needed guidance on the ins and outs of voice actors' salaries and how to make more money and book higher-paying jobs as a voiceover artist.

Although external factors and industry trends can be unpredictable, you still have the power to implement these income-boosting strategies in your career and the latest increases in technology means that there's never been a better time to begin a voice acting career than 2024.

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