Voiceover artists are responsible for all manner of entertainment, from narration of movie trailers and commercials to voices for cartoon characters and video games. While not every voice actor finds the fame and fortune of industry legends like Don LaFontaine, you can still make a career out of talking into a microphone. As it is with any other acting job, though, the competition is fierce, and you need both talent and determination if you want to make it.
According to CBSalary as reported by CNN, the average salary of a voice actor is $47,000 a year, for those fortunate enough to make a living at it. Voice actors, like other actors, get paid by the gig, so individual salaries vary widely based on demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that typical rates of pay for voiceover recording sessions range between $300 and $500 per hour for the first hour, and from $200 to $350 for each hour after that. An article published by Kidz World reports that voiceover talent may earn as little as $140 per hour. This is particularly true of actors dubbing lines over a pre-animated program -- for example, recording English lines over an anime program.
Generally, voice actors for movies and TV are paid according to industry scale. According to Reuters, this is determined by the Screen Actors Guild, which, as of 2008, set the minimum rate at approximately $760 per four-hour session. Recognizable and prolific voice talent may make considerably more. These talents are also able to book more work -- sometimes multiple sessions in a single day, which quickly adds up.
Many voice actors also work as regular actors, and sometimes big-name screen actors also work as voice actors. For example, as reported in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz earned $10 million each for their voice work in "Shrek 2." Celebrities may also earn top dollar for work in video games. Actors such as Terrence Carson, Keith David and Michael Ironside may earn double the industry scale rate or more, according to Reuters news agency.
Your ability to find voice acting work is determined in large part by where you live. The available work in this industry is almost exclusive to metropolitan areas. If you live in or around a large city that's not one of the major media towns, you might be able to make a living as a voice actor doing local advertisements for radio or television. If you are setting your sights higher, you need to live in an area like Southern California or in New York City, where the majority of voice actors are employed.