We've previously discussed two of the most common questions voice actors get: “What is voice acting?” and “Have I heard you in anything?” So now let's tackle a third common question: “How did you get into that?” The answer to this question varies, of course, from voice actor to voice actor. However, the commonalities found within most answers would also touch on a prevalent misconception the folks asking these questions usually have—namely, that voice acting is something easy that they themselves could just start doing on a whim. (Spoiler: It isn't, and they can't.)
Most successful voice actors have had training in acting. After all, it's right there in the job title. Acting isn't easy, and is a skill that must be worked on and refined. Those who have never acted before might perceive it as something “easy” by watching a skilled actor perform, because that actor is making it look easy thanks to years of hard work and training. Talent only accounts for part of the equation, as that talent needs to be honed. The difference between “bad” actors and “good” actors isn't necessarily raw talent, but most likely boils down to training and experience. Training is what can make the difference between it sounding like someone is just reading from a script versus someone delivering an engaging narration. This is why training is absolutely key for anyone who aspires to get into voice acting, and should always be the first step.
Then there is equipment. As we touched on in another post, most voice actors these days must invest in a home studio setup. They have to educate themselves—either through more training or through self-taught research—what equipment they need, how to handle acoustics, how to use the software, how to process and edit, and so on. This is absolutely vital to the modern voice actor, especially for the next step.
That step is auditions. While some clients or agents may have a voice actor physically go into the studio, more and more auditions are happening online. If a new voice actor wants to succeed, they must spend time every day auditioning for anything and everything that fits their vocal profile (and they can determine which things are best for them during their training). Which is why they need that equipment and the know-how to record and process studio-quality work. The quality of the recording is being judged in auditions just as much as the voice itself, because chances are the actual job will also be recorded from the talent's home. There are, of course, exceptions, as some things like animation and video games will often prefer to bring the talents in to their own studios, but even some of those avenues of voice acting have been shifting more and more to remote recording from the talents' homes.
Which means the voice acting aspect of the job is only part of it. The rest is editing and basically being a sound engineer as well as a voice actor. This means that a final product of a few minutes could have taken an hour or more to produce. Take audiobooks, for example, which may take up to 6 hours to produce one finished hour of product. Mistakes, breaths, atmosphere noise (which even a microphone itself can produce, called self-noise), weird vocal sounds (like a too-strong plosive) all need to be fixed and edited. Not all jobs take quite that long or need quite as stringent proofing, but even a short explainer video can take a bit of time to get all cleaned up and edited.
As the voice actor continues to learn and develop their craft, they'll land more auditions, build up more experience, and that's how they “get into it.” Through this process they may be able to get agents, and can become part of a trusted talent pool for something like FlyVoiceovers, and cultivate a strong reputation with clients. Voice acting is a job, and like any job, requires dedication and hard work to succeed. Whether it's for a one minute commercial or a ten hour audiobook, voice actors—especially ones who handle all aspects of recording—dedicate a lot of time and investment in getting the job done right.