How to Get Started in Voice Over: A General Guide, with Resources & Links
It’s absolutely the most common question I [and other full-time voice actors] get asked: “How do I get started in voice over?” Below, you’ll find a description of the process, some best practices, and links to some of the best coaches & classes in the industry.
This list is by no means exhaustive, either: the more you ask around, the more info you’ll find. Overall, the voiceover community is a pretty tight-knit and very supportive collective of business-minded actors, and we all do our best to look out for each other and new talent — after all, we all had to start somewhere, too.
Lastly… full disclosure: I am not a voice over coach. I am happy to coach you [or anyone else] on how to begin and grow your voice over business, but as far as technique and voice development, there are far better coaches out there than I — and you’ll find them through some of the links below. And if you need an extra hand, just ask.
That all said… let’s get started!
Step 1: Take a Class
Everyone knows you need a demo to get started. But cutting a demo before you’re ready — typically 12-18 months of training — is typically a bad idea [more on that below].
Your first step is to narrow down what type of voice work you most want to do, and take a class on that genre.
There’s so many different niches of voiceover out there. What kind do you want to do? Cartoons? Commercials? eLearning? Audiobooks? All of it?
Not only is MGS [multi-goal syndrome] a legit problem when starting out, but determining where in voice over you’d like to go will help you know where and how to start training, i.e., take a class or three.
Taking classes, including group and private coaching, to get started is highly, highly recommended. Why? Well, think about it: you wouldn’t show up to a courtroom and go, “Hi, I’d like to be a lawyer. How do I get started?” [The answer: law school, natch].
Likewise, let’s say you want to learn how to play guitar. Sure, you can teach yourself, but you’re going to find a lot more success, much quicker, by hiring someone to coach you on the basics — and help you determine what style of playing you’d most want to do as you progress.
So, the best thing to do to get started is take a class: specifically, one with mic time and live coaching.
Success in voice over is far less about the quality of your voice as it is the quality of your read, i.e., how you connect with the script.
Pro tip: Definitely don’t waste your money on a demo until you’ve got a good handle on that — people will listen, but it’s highly unlikely to get you work or representation, since that’s what they’re looking for: voice talent who can actually work with the script.
Where to Take Classes
- In my opinion, for online classes, the GVAA [Global Voice Acting Academy] is the gold-standard. They offer live, remote classes from some of the best coaches in the industry. I personally still take classes from them at least once/year, and they’ve got classes covering promos, audiobook, characters, corporate narration… every end of the industry. Edge Studio is pretty great, too, for similar reasons — quality, reputation, and high levels of standard.Bonus: The GVAA also publishes the industry-standard V/O rate guide, which you’ll absolutely want to reference as you start to negotiate on jobs.
- Conferences like Voiceover Atlanta are also a fantastic, relatively low-cost way to get a voiceover crash-course: over 2-3 days, you’d get the opportunity to explore a ton of different genres; meet reputable, industry-leading coaches, agents, and demo producers; and fellow talent across all levels of the industry.
- Locally [wherever you are], absolutely contact your local theatre for an intro-to-acting class if you’ve never acted before. After all, voiceover is far more than being a pretty voice — again, it’s creating a personal connection to the script that lands you the gig [as well as learning how to take direction], which is specifically what an acting class will teach you.Bonus points: also contact your local improv theater and take their intro class, too. Improv skills are invaluable to thinking on your feet; building natural, human connections; and finding “your voice.” These are skills voice actors use every single day.For those of us in Minnesota, those resources would be the Guthrie Theater and HUGE Theater.