How Much Do Voice Actors Make Online?

Jul 29, 2021

A career as a voice-over artist should be both fun and profitable. How lucrative the job will depend on your skill level, the size of the project, the word count, and the types of voice-over work you get. While many job industry rates vary by location and time in the industry, professional voice actors are usually working from home and therefore geographically independent. To give you an idea, here are some stats of how much voice actors get paid in the United States:

  • an entry-level voice actor earns about $18,390 per year
  • the average voice actor earns about $31,400 per year
  • an experienced voice actor earns about $90,000 per year

Whether you are amongst the lucky ones that earn six figures, voice acting salaries will be determined by various factors. So let’s have a look at what those are.

Skill Level and Minimum Rates

Your years of experience and expertise are factors that determine the rates you can set. Once you establish yourself as a reputable voice talent, you're earning potential grows. Regardless of your status in the industry, set a rate that works for you, and your business at that time. Developing a rate sheet for clients serves as a useful reference guide for consistent and reliable pricing and is commonplace amongst voice actors. Since voice artists earn on a per-project basis, you could start with a minimum price of $100 per job which includes 150 words and commercial/broadcast rights. Don’t be afraid to offer deals and discounts if you think a client may turn into a repeat client or if the project is beneficial for your portfolio.

Size of the Project

Not all projects are created equal, and just like television and radio artists, voice actors earn depending on the kind and size of the voice acting job. For example, a video game client will pay differently than a radio commercial client. This is particularly true when it comes to specialized or niche-specific voice actors. Therefore, it’s beneficial to consider having a niche, e.g., in animation, audiobooks, or gaming, to become an in-demand voice talent and increase your earning potential.

Word Count

A script’s word count is the most common way to calculate a voice actor’s rate. Understanding rates based on word count is a transparent way of providing pricing to your client and calculating your potential earnings. A general rule-of-thumb formula is:

  • Word count/words spoken per minute = total minutes it will take you 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

Stats

It’s possible to earn a 6-figure income as a voice talent, although it will take time and dedication to your craft. The following stats are the median voice actor salaries and rates for different projects and various career stages.

Average voice actor salaries:

  • The top 10% of voice actors earn $90,000 and above
  • The top 25% of voice actors earn $51,000 and above
  • Median voice actors earn $31,400
  • The bottom 25% of voice actors earn $21,700 and above
  • The bottom 10% of voice actors earn $18,390 and above

Sample rates for voice over jobs in the US:

  • $35 for a small radio spot
  • $150 for a 15-second online recording with a full buyout in perpetuity
  • $250 - $350 (plus use fees) for a 30-second major market radio commercial
  • $2,000 - $5,000 per audiobook (Based on $250 per finished hour and 10-hour audiobook)

A note on Union Jobs

In the United States, the union that voice actors can join is SAG-AFTRA. In Canada, voice actors who are members of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television, and Radio Artists (ACTRA) are paid according to union guidelines.

How much voice actors earn per project depends on whether the job is a union or non-union job. SAG-AFTRA union members receive royalties, or voice acting residuals, for their work.  Non-union actors can charge the exact same way Union voice actors charge are they can also be paid a full buyout, meaning they receive a one-time payment for the client’s right to use their recording forever. The buyout amount can be negotiated and depends on the use of the material and its duration license for use on different channels and on whether it’s a universal buyout.

Finding and Working With Clients

For the best chance to succeed, build your network, build your brand, and market yourself continually.  Whether you find your jobs online, through various platforms, agencies, or referrals, there are many ways for you to find work. Your number one job as a voice actor is to find new work and clients. Whatever path you decide to go down, treat this as a business and you will grow much faster.

Conclusion

There are many opportunities in the voice acting industry, and if you prepare well, work hard and play your cards right, you can expect to earn handsomely. While you may start out doing small projects, they will help you gain experience and boost your confidence. A healthy combination of talent, focus, strong work ethics, and good networking skills will allow you to book projects, eventually increase your rates, establish yourself and ultimately succeed as a voice actor in the industry.

Here are the sources used for this article:

https://www.gravyforthebrain.com/how-much-do-voice-actors-make/ 

https://voiceacting101.com/how-much-money-voice-actors-make/ 

https://everydayperformers.com/do-voice-actors-get-residuals/ 

https://voiceactors.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/how-much-do-voice-actors-earn/

https://bunnystudio.com/blog/library/voice-over/voice-actor-salary-how-much-does-this-job-pay/

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