Q: I’m interested in getting into voiceover work. I don’t have any experience in the field but think it’s something I would enjoy and could be good at. What are the first few steps I should take? —Gena D., Los Angeles
When considering a career in voice acting, it’s helpful to understand that the behind-the-scenes nature of the industry has resulted in a profession where the path to success is cloaked in mystery.
Think about it: Historically, there has never been a traditional school or defined apprenticeship for voice acting. Today, Google will point you to an abundance of training resources like Backstage, but discerning which ones are truly legitimate usually requires you to take a deeper plunge or have inside connections who can guide you. That said, your first step is to understand the journey upon which you are embarking so that you go in with your eyes wide open. The second step is to find a bona fide teacher with whom you resonate.
As for the journey, prepare for a significant investment in time and money. Assuming you have no training or transferable skills, you can estimate six to 12 months of weekly training sessions, plus three to 10 hours of practice and homework per week. Once you have the requisite performance skills, you’ll create a professional demo reel. You’ll also benefit from several more weeks of coaching to develop a strategic career plan, including soliciting talent agents and buyers. To audition for jobs, you’ll need a home studio and a portable kit to record when you’re traveling.
On average, and usually on a weekly basis, you should take private, one-hour classes, which will cost $100 to $200. A demo reel will cost $2,000 to $3,500. A simple home or travel studio will add another $5,000. Creating branded marketing materials (website, stationery, etc.) may add $1,500.
The gateway to the voiceover promised land is working one-on-one with a coach. Specialized group classes will augment and expand your training, but your coach is key. The training is composed of learning script interpretation, traditional acting, speech and diction, improvisation, and analyzing voiceover performances. Be an impeccable student and everything will emerge in the space of your training. There is much to learn, but I have yet to meet a student who wasn’t surprised by the depth of the craft. Good luck!
Joan Baker is the co-founders of That’s Voiceover!, an annual career expo, and co-creator of Society of Voice Arts and Sciences and the Voice Arts Awards. Follow her on Twitter @JoanTheVoice and like her on Facebook: Joan Baker Live.
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