It takes long-term dedication to grow a career as a voice actor. There’s the building of performance skills, the mastering of technical aspects of audio recording, learning the business end of voice acting, and then of course all the auditioning required to book jobs. But while it’s not easy, it can be done, and it sure is rewarding. Here are three tips to improve your chances of succeeding in this highly competitive field.

Keep training as an actor

Voice acting is acting. So it’s important to keep refining your craft with experience and training. Most of the things that make stage or screen acting compelling likewise apply to voice acting. That includes valuing your authenticity so you bring a real, relatable person to the table; knowing how to interpret scripts; being able to take direction in your quest to serve the project’s needs; and exhibiting a playful spirit of improvisation to keep your deliveries fresh, imaginative, and responsive. 

Every time you perform, whether live or in class, , you’re building your voice-over skills. In addition, it’s essential to keep learning more about the specialty of voice acting. Highly recommended resources include working voice actors Yuri Lowenthan and Tara Platt’s fun-to-read “Voice-Over Voice Actor;” the astounding voice actor Dee Bradley Baker’s website I Want to be a Voice Actor! which is a comprehensive overview for voice actors at every level of the game; and Crispin Freeman’s Voice Acting Mastery podcast.

Take care of your voice

To sustain a career as a voice actor, it’s of utmost importance to maintain the health of your vocal cords. To nurture your instrument, stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water and limiting caffeine and alcohol which tend to dry the vocal folds and larynx. Also, smoking and vaping can cause vocal cord irritation by drying out the mucous, resulting in a raspy voice. Yelling and whispering create quite a strain on the voice as well. On the other hand, gently singing within your comfortable range serves as a good warm-up, as does humming. 

While working, remember to take sufficient breaks so as not to fatigue your voice. Regular exercise, especially cardio, not only helps with posture and confidence but promotes your ability to control your breath. During the cold, dry season, consider using a humidifier in your home and wearing a scarf to keep your neck warm. And don’t forget to regularly wash your hands to minimize your chances of catching a cold or the flu.

Focus on making a great space

Another duty of voice actors includes creating a space to produce professional- quality audio. But to do so requires more thought and effort than purchasing a high-end mic. 

“I cannot state this strongly and clearly enough because it is so hard for people to get around this: Your audio quality is not primarily determined by your microphone,” voice talent and voice coach Bill DeWees insists. 

Rather, the critical factor in sounding like a pro centers around the actual space in which you record. In fact, voice actors should aim for a quiet and acoustically-treated work area. As it’s impossible to eliminate all background sounds in your recordings, you can focus your energy on minimizing such distractions as much as possible. DeWees encourages voice actors to find the quietest, likely interior, room in the house. 

The next step is to make sure the surfaces in the space are covered with sound-absorbing materials. For example, a closet with carpeted floors and plenty of clothing on hangers might suffice, while other people might find the need to install acoustic foam or strategically hang moving blankets to cover hard surfaces. 

“I’ve got plenty of students who make a living working with cheaper materials and then, as they grow their careers and their businesses, they get the better, higher-priced [materials],” DeWees says.