In a world…where you want to learn how to get into voice acting, where on Earth would you start?
Chances are, you just read that line the way it would be voiced in a movie trailer, which is a sound that’s familiar to most people on the planet. Less familiar, though, is the question of how to become a voice actor. How do people find voice acting jobs, anyway? Is there just a group of five voice actors who handle every single job, and the only way you can break into the industry is if one of them quits?
Thankfully, no, it doesn’t work quite like that. While you probably won’t be able to replace anyone from Bob’s Burgers or Red Dead Redemption 2 after reading a single “how to get into voice acting” Reddit thread, it’s easier to get your foot in the door than you might think.
The basics that you’ll need are a compelling voice, a talent for acting, the ability to self-motivate, and a workable at-home studio to turn out high-quality product. If you have those four things, you’ll find success in the industry, even if it takes a moment to build up your momentum.
Before you set off down this voice acting path, it’s important to know what the day-to-day will look like. Up to this point, your interactions with voice overs have probably been pretty fleeting; you experience the final, polished cut, probably with musical backing, visual effects, or other actor interactions. But the reality of learning how to voice act isn’t quite so easy-breezy.
What comes before that final cut is take after take of practice runs, often executed in a tiny sound-proofed space like a home office or even a closet. It’s long, grueling work, that can be as creatively draining as it is stressful on the voice itself. (So take care of yourself!) Voice actors are often asked to make multiple different choices throughout a single line of dialogue, to give directors or auditors plenty of options to choose from, so you could find yourself reading a line 100 different times, 20 different ways, until it’s lost all meaning.
And since voice actors don’t typically appear on screen, all that work has to be done by their voices alone—it’s not like they can give a wink or a smile to show the audience the meaning behind their words. Even trickier, they don’t have any other actors to work off of, which means they have to furnish all the details and emotional commitment inside their own minds, with only the voice of a director or client in their ear for guidance.
What Training Do Voice Actors Have?
Since there are no set education or certification requirements to become a voice actor, you’ll see a wide variety in the types of training that voice over artists bring to the table. But what you’ll see across the board is that the most talented and successful voice actors are the ones who never stop learning, whether they’re learning how to get into video game voice acting or honing their craft to narrate audiobooks. (Or anything in between.)
Those just starting out will want to take a voice over acting class, and should consider working directly with a coach. That person can help you guide your fledgling career in the right direction—toward audiobook narration, commercial work, video game voice overs, dubbing, animation, or documentaries, for example—and assist you in creating a reel, which we’ll talk more about below.
Are There Voice Acting Qualifications?
As I mentioned above, there aren’t any strict qualifications required in order to start working as a voice actor, which is great news for beginners. But consistency, reliability, patience, the ability to relax and work under pressure, and the ambition to run your career like a business are all must-haves and will help you stand out against the competition.
Even more importantly, you’ll need the ability to record clean audio, which means a sound-proofed studio that’s free of noises like traffic, appliances, or distant voices or pet sounds that can disrupt your audio. If you can’t turn out clean, crystal clear takes, it doesn’t matter how strong your voice and acting skills are—you’re going to really struggle to find paid gigs.
Can I Become a Voice Actor With No Experience?
Absolutely, yes! It’s how everyone starts out, after all. Obviously, you won’t be able to compete with more seasoned performers right away, but you can certainly start working on smaller projects as you train and gain experience in how to do voice overs.
The important thing to remember is that it’s your own voice and sound that’s going to set you apart. No one sounds or acts exactly like you, so there are probably already projects out there that are perfect for your talents. It’s just about honing your skills so that you’re up to the challenge, and figuring out where exactly you fit in—and how you can stand out.
Give Voice Acting a Try Yourself!
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How to Become a Voice Actor
When it comes to how to get into voice over acting, there are some easy steps you can take today to get you on your way.
Step 1: Start Reading Things Aloud
Get familiar with your own voice and all the things it can do by reading anything and everything aloud, whether it’s a book or the back of a cereal box. You can even challenge yourself to read things in certain ways or to mimic voice overs you hear on TV or podcasts. It all helps flex those important voice muscles—both literally and figuratively.
Step 2: Take a Class and Find a Coach
Find a voice over actor you admire and take a class with them, or work with them one-on-one as a coach. Not only can they help build up your skills, but they might have helpful connections you can draw on as you improve.
Step 3: Set Up Your Studio
Make yourself a cozy, soundproof nook with a good quality microphone you can use to record audio without background noise. (Pro tip: A closet is a great place to start for beginners, because all that clothing dampens sound.)
Step 4: Create a Demo Reel
This is what industry professionals will want to review before booking you for gigs, or sometimes even inviting you to audition. So make sure you have a clean, tight recording that shows you off to the best of your abilities and includes a wide variety of skills, from character voices to specific (and appropriate) dialects—and beyond.
Step 5: Start Auditioning
Once you have a handle on the previous four steps, just start putting yourself out there. You’re never going to be (or feel!) fully ready, so the sooner you can start getting reps and getting used to the audition process, the better. No guarantees, but you might even get some feedback that helps you down the road.
Where to Find Voice Over and Voice Acting Jobs
Whether you want to know how to get into voice acting for video games, documentaries, cartoons, or anything else under the sun, the process is pretty much the same. If you’re un-represented by an agent or manager who can submit you for gigs, you’ll start out on a talent marketplace like Voices and Voice123, where your paid subscription will give you access to a slew of voice over auditions.
You can also reach out to your local radio station to see if they have any commercial connections, swing by a performance space to see if you can find a working voice actor to mentor you, or contact marketing or advertising firms to see if they’re looking for talent. Voice over doors open to people in all different ways, so get creative with the way you pursue this career.
Get Started on Your Own Voice Over Career!
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