How Much Do Voice Actors Make Online?Jul 29, 2021
So you want to get into voice acting. And amidst the excitement of trying out a new career and understanding the ropes, there’s always one more question lurking in the back of anyone’s mind: what’s a voice acting salary like? And what does it take to make it big in the industry?
Simply put, as an online voice actor, your earning potential varies greatly depending on your experience, the quality of your work, the size and type of the project, and how well you market yourself. New voice actors, for example, might make around $20 per short job, while experienced actors can make $100 or more per job. Meanwhile, some top-tier voice actors make over $500 for an hour's work.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Let’s start from the beginning…
Three Things to Consider When Calculating Voice Acting Rates
When it comes to voice acting rates and salary, there are a few factors to consider that’ll make a difference between what you might earn and what someone else with, let’s say… more experience might get from a similar project.
1. Skill Level and Minimum Rates
The skill level of voice actors and the minimum rates they can charge are closely interlinked. As you build up a reputation and prove your reliability in the industry, you can command higher voice acting rates.
A popular practice among voice actors is to develop a rate sheet for clients, serving as a consistent pricing reference. Given that most voice-over artists earn on a per-project basis, a base price of $100 for 150 words – including commercial/broadcast rights – is a reasonable starting point.
If you want to get paid more, it’s worth investing in training to help you improve your skills and learn more about the industry. At A VO’s Journey, for example, we offer tailored voice acting courses and 1-on-1 mentorship programs designed for voice actors looking to upgrade their skills and start earning more.
2. Size of the Project
The size and type of a voice-over project also play significant roles in determining earnings. Just as TV and radio artists earn differently based on the scope of their roles, a voice actors' salary varies according to the project. A client for a video game, for example, might pay differently than a client for a radio commercial.
Additionally, specialized voice actors catering to niche markets can demand higher rates. That’s why, in some cases, it may be advantageous to carve out a niche for yourself in fields such as animation, audiobooks, or gaming.
3. Word Count
Another standard measure for calculating a voice actor's rate is the word count of a script. This method provides a transparent pricing structure for your client and it also helps you calculate your potential earnings.
Consider this formula:
- Word count/words spoken per minute = total minutes to record
- Total minutes / 60 minutes = total number of hours to record
- Total hours x your hourly rate = price to record
- Price per hour to edit x hours to edit = post-production fee
- Total fees = price to record + post-production fee
The Average Voice Acting Salary in the United States
Now that you've gained an overview of the voice acting landscape, it’s time to dive into some specific figures. While a six-figure income is possible for a voice actor, reaching this level demands time, dedication, and honing your craft.
Average voice acting salaries:
- Top 10% of voice actors: $90,000 and above
- Top 25% of voice actors: $51,000 and above
- Median voice actors: $31,400
- Bottom 25% of voice actors: $21,700 and above
- Bottom 10% of voice actors: $18,390 and above
Sample Rates (Infographic)
Union Jobs and Voice Acting Rates
Becoming a union member as a voice actor can often signify a step up in your career. Unions like the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) in the United States and the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television, and Radio Artists (ACTRA) in Canada, offer several benefits to their members like the assurance of voice acting residuals or royalties. This means that union members earn not just from their initial recording, but they also receive ongoing payments for the continued use of their work.
Meanwhile, non-union actors have the flexibility to charge similar rates as Union voice actors or opt for a full buyout – meaning they receive a one-time payment for the client’s right to use their recording indefinitely. The buyout amount is usually subject to negotiation and depends on factors like the material's use, its duration license for different channels, and whether it’s a universal buyout.
Other Considerations to Keep in Mind
In voice acting, like any other profession, there are many more factors that affect the rate of pay. However, beyond just the figures, it's essential to understand how these elements come into play with one another and impact a voice actor's income.
Do voice actors get paid per “voice”?
In voice acting, the rate isn't generally determined by the number of voices an actor can do. Instead, voice actors are paid based on factors like project size, script length, and their level of experience. However, an actor's ability to perform multiple voices can certainly be a unique selling point, potentially earning them more diverse roles and higher pay.
How much do voice actors make for 1 minute?
The voice acting rates for a minute of recorded material can significantly vary, and it largely depends on the project type. For instance, a commercial project might pay $250-$350 for a 30-second clip, meaning that a 1-minute recording could earn a voice actor $500-$700. In contrast, a minute of audiobook narration might earn less due to the project's extended length.
What is the lowest paid voice actor?
Voice acting, like any other profession, has a pay scale that varies with experience. Typically, entry-level voice actors (or those at the lower end of the pay scale) earn about $18,390 per year in the United States. These voice actors are usually just starting in the industry, building their portfolios and client base.
Popular Brands/TV Shows and How Much They Pay
From Disney's magical kingdom to the streets of "Family Guy," and the action-packed cityscape of "GTA V," the voice acting industry offers a multitude of opportunities in various sectors.
Curious to know how much these gigs pay? Let’s check it out.
How Much Do Disney Voice Actors Get Paid?
(Picture Credit: The Nerdist)
Disney voice actors' salaries can significantly vary based on the prominence of their roles. For feature films, a lead character's voice actor might make anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 or more. Meanwhile, A-list actors lending their voices to Disney characters can bring in six or even seven figures.
How Much Do Family Guy Voice Actors Get Paid?
(Picture Credit: The Daily Star)
The main cast members of Family Guy – including Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, and Mila Kunis – reportedly earn between $100,000 to $225,000 per episode. However, voice actors starting in the industry, even on popular shows like Family Guy, shouldn't expect these rates as a starting point.
How Much Do GTA V Voice Actors Get Paid?
(Picture Credit: Grandos)
Payment for video game voice actors like those in GTA V can vary greatly, and the specific figures are often not disclosed. It's important to remember, though, that video games often require substantial work – including multiple recording sessions over a long period of time. These actors might be paid per session, with each session lasting around 4 hours. High-profile actors can earn considerably more, with payment often negotiated on a case-by-case basis.
Navigating the Financial Landscape of the Voice Acting Industry
Understanding the financial dynamics of voice acting is a vital step in shaping a successful career in this industry. From small projects to high-profile roles, the scale of voice acting salaries and rates spans a wide spectrum, reflecting the diversity of opportunities available.
And while beginners may find themselves working on smaller projects with more modest earnings, it's important to remember that these are just a stepping stone toward more lucrative opportunities.