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Thinking Of A Career In Voice Over?
10 Key Questions To Evaluate Your Potential ...

February 27, 2014

By Rachel Fulginiti
Voice Actor

Lots of people flirt with the idea of having a career in voice over. They have a nagging voice in their head that says, "I think I could do that," or "Wow, that would be awesome!"

But being a successful VO requires a unique set of skills and qualities.

Here are 10 questions to consider before jumping in.

1. Are you a self-starter?

Voice over is a freelance lifestyle, and the freelance lifestyle is not for everyone. You need to be good at creating your own goals and deadlines, setting your own hours and sticking to them, motivating yourself to do the work whether or not money is involved.

You need to invest time and money into this career, with no one calling the shots but yourself. You'll need to go to classes, workshops and networking events. You will need to practice, practice, practice and remain energized and focused despite the rejection and inevitable disappointments.

2. Are you a good multitasker?

Being a VO requires you to constantly be multitasking - recording and editing, emailing and invoicing, uploading and sharing. The list goes on.

The number of things I do in a day are so varied. Often times, I'm working on a project when something comes in from another client who is in a time crunch and needs something right away. I need to be able to prioritize and shift gears if necessary.

3. (Continuing #2) Are you OK with no routine being your routine?

My schedule changes on a day-to-day basis, depending on what comes up.

Often times, auditions come in and need to be turned around right away - the same thing with jobs. I also have to balance going into my agency with working from home and going to outside sessions and castings.

For some people (like me), this is actually a good thing - I get bored easily and I felt so trapped and heartsick when I had a 9-5 job. It lasted about two years and broke down my spirit.

But some people truly like and thrive on having a routine in their lives. As a VO, you can try to have a plan, but I guarantee that it will change almost every day. It's the nature of the business.

4. Do you have acting experience?

I use the term "voice actor" to describe myself, not "voice over person," because that's exactly what I am. Voice over is acting, pure and simple.

Often times I hear people say: "Well, people have told me I have a good voice." But this business is not about having a good voice - IT REALLY ISN'T!

People often marvel at how quickly I became successful in this career, but honestly it's because I've been doing this for 20 years in one way or another. I went to college for acting. I went to a two-year acting conservatory in Manhattan after that. I did stage and on-camera for 10 years. I came to Los Angeles and did more acting. Then I studied for an entire year before putting myself out there as a VO.

If you don't have acting experience and you want to be a voice over person, you will definitely be at a disadvantage. That doesn't mean you can't succeed, but taking a basic acting class will help a lot.

5. Are you a risk taker?

Are you willing to work really hard at this and spend lots and lots of money with no guarantees?

Most successful VO's I know are part risk taker, part adventurer, and part eternal optimist. It helps to be someone who is OK with not knowing what's coming down the pike and rarely knowing where your next job is coming from - while trusting that it's all going to work out great.

I've found my connection to spirituality and a Higher Power an integral part of my success in this business. Without it, this career would just be too scary. I always come back to my faith and it helps me to navigate without being able to see around the corners.

And when I think about it, I've always been kind of a gambler. I like challenges, I believe in the long shot, and I keep my eye on the prize.

6. Do you love it enough that you'd do it for free?

To me, this is probably the single most important thing about pursuing a career in voice over. My secret marvel whenever I'm leaving a session is this: "The funny thing is, they have no idea...I'd do this for free!" I love it that much.

I also love it enough to keep my chops up with regular classes, workshops and workout groups.

No one can give you passion, and you can't make yourself have it. But if you have it, you know it's there and it keeps a fire lit during the darkest of your days.

There's a difference between liking something (even liking it a lot) and LOVING it. There's also a difference between wanting to do something, and pure desire.

I submit that for VO, wanting it isn't enough - you have to truly desire it, and the REALITY of the lifestyle and everything that comes along with it.

Voice over is not for everyone. But if you have it, it will get you through.

Sidebar: Please don't kid yourself by thinking it's easy money. Don't do it for the money. Yes, we make great money. But we work hard to get there and it's not about the money. If you're looking to go into VO because you think it will be an easy way to make money, you will probably be disappointed. Love the work.

7. Are you a good business person?

This one is huge. It's such a cliche but it's so true ...voice over is show BUSINESS. You have to know how to run yours well.
  • Do you know how to communicate with the people you work with in the business world?
  • Can you under-promise and over-deliver?
  • Do you have a good affect - being prompt, keeping your word, showing up prepared and being pleasant to work with?
  • Are you persistent? Organized?
  • Do you know how to market yourself effectively (without being annoying)?
  • Do you manage your money well?
Some of the most successful voice over people I know started out in the business world. They know how it works. Being a creative my whole life, it's something I've had to work on - although I do credit that 9-5 job with giving me the basic skills I needed. (See, everything is for a reason!)

8. How's your self-confidence?

Do you have a thick skin in terms of rejection? Are you your own best ally or your own worst enemy?

If you choose a career in voice over, you will definitely experience rejection, near wins that ultimately pan out as losses, "almosts" and "might have beens."

You will think you nailed it and then never hear back. You will be hired on an amazing project and then replaced. You will not know why. It's all part of the job.

The awesome part is actually getting a job - but the reality is that your career will be mostly auditioning. It's so important to believe in yourself and know that when a door closes, another one always opens.

9. How about your people skills?

Even though we all work from home a lot these days, this is still a people business. Every time you make a connection, whether it's in person at a session or a casting or online through email or social media, you need to remember that people hire and help people that they LIKE!

People who are well rounded, with other interests. Have something to talk about. Be polite. Be fun to work with. Be curious about others.

And please remember your manners! I can't tell you how many times someone has reached out to me to ask for help in "breaking in to the biz," and I take the time to write them back or talk to them on the phone. But I never even get a thank you!

I'm serious. It's kind of shocking!

This is a very small community and people have good memories. Be kind. Be personable. Be grateful. And if someone helps you, give back to someone else. Pay it forward.

10. Do you have another job/income that will support you on this journey?

Do you have space in your life for all this? You will need to invest a lot of time, energy and money getting your voice over career off the ground.

When I first started I worked three jobs for a year and a half, to cover expenses like classes and building my home studio. I had a plan with a timeline. Among other things, I worked at the Census for a year and half, which was the perfect job as the hours were flexible and it was a nice steady income.

If you try to make voice over your primary source of income too soon, it will be incredibly stressful. Have a way to support your dream and all that it takes to build it. Make sure you have time in your schedule to allow it to work!
Rachel Fulginiti is a voice actor, audiobook narrator and blogger living in Los Angeles. She's represented by William Morris Endeavor and has voiced for hundreds of brands including McDonalds, Kia, Fox, Chrysler, Apple and Target.  


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Comments (13)
Maureen Grace Roman
9/9/2021 at 3:55 PM
This has been very helpful. The description of being easily bored and having your spirit broken down by your 9 to 5 job is something that resonated with me. I am starting this journey in mid-life, with a lot of acting experience. The technical side of setting up a home studio is intimidating to me. I am, however, passionate about acting, voice and communication. Thank you for the tips!
Roy McRay
2/26/2017 at 8:19 PM
Dear Rachel,

Your very adept and experienced insight leave no quandry as to what to expect, and rightfully so. Slightly daunting, but not insurmountable, especially when considering the prospects of envisioning the spectrum of returns by the community in which I am presently prospecting from the ground floor.

You speak of responsibility by all terms and that needs to be heard. I am most gracious of your relating in honesty and fullness. I have no doubt it will serve me well and I shall be back here again to reread this time and again! Thank you for your words.

Roy McRay
Maria Barlett
10/10/2015 at 2:42 PM
Dear Rachel,

I admit that I approached your article with trepidation - ready to throw in the towel before starting, if necessary. I discovered that I already have the 10 "down" due to a career in freelance music, teaching and writing (I already have a studio, even!). I've been contemplating getting into VO work and you gave me the boost I needed. Now I realize the only missing element is the properly focused elbow grease and that, dear lady, I also am willing to apply. I heard about a workshop here in Florida in November that I will plan to attend to learn more! Thanks so much for your practical and encouraging words.
Michael Grant
10/5/2015 at 8:30 AM
Hello Rachel,

I want to thank you for sharing such vital information and insight about what it takes to become a successful voice actor. I am specifically interested in becoming an audio recording narrator. I've worked in several call centers in a managerial capacity. My strength was in coaching and developing representatives from low achievers to high performers by improving their delivery and quality of customer service during daily interaction with the customers.

I've been commended on my outstanding active listening and excellent customer service skills. These are some of the transferable skills combined with other industry required skills I hope to use become a success in this field. Please feel free to share any other bit of insight or information you believe would be helpful in my carving a successful track record in this field. Thank you once again for sharing your wealth of knowledge and overview on what it will take to become a success story.

Michael Grant
7/13/2015 at 4:14 PM
After reading what you wrote, it makes me realize that I had the wrong idea as to what is entailed in being a VO.

Your article is truly an eye opener.
Rhonda Landrigan
1/23/2015 at 11:00 AM
Thank You! I was amazed I never even thought about this being a career available, even though I'm a huge audible fan. Your article was well written and clear. Put it all into perspective and I'm ready to start this path in my life. I've ran trains on call 24/7 so no schedule, a love of audiobooks (some VO's, some not, lol), and having "fans" of hearing me speak, I believe this new goal will be just what I've been needing. Bring the spark of something different, changing, and exciting back into my life.
Marc Scott
3/2/2014 at 5:45 PM
Nailed it. Every one of those questions is absolutely essential to ask.
Moe Rock
3/1/2014 at 3:00 PM
I'm adding this to my list of articles to give to those that ask about "getting into Voice Over." This is perfect!
Ed Waldorph
2/28/2014 at 12:58 AM
This is spot on. The only thing I would add is, "Are you willing to spend your hard earned money on continuing education, training and coaching?"
Memo Sauceda
2/27/2014 at 5:53 PM
You took the words out of my mouth, Rachel!
Debbie Grattan
2/27/2014 at 5:34 PM
You have detailed some really excellent points here, and anyone with an inkling of diving into a VO career would be hard pressed to find better advice about what it takes to be successful, than what you've written here. And of course, we know, it's still only the tip of the iceberg. Somehow, I still believe there are folks that think this doesn't apply to them, and will charge ahead anyway. Ah well, sometimes things have to be learned the hard way.
Todd Lewis
2/27/2014 at 3:49 PM
Rachel's advice is concise and to the point. If you can't honestly say that you have the attributes to pursue this craft then think about another business. I'd like to add, are you capable to continue to re-evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and are willing to get help for future success.
Pamela Lorence
2/27/2014 at 3:10 PM
Well said Rachel!
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