Voice acting is a popular profession within creative industries. Voice actors are found in multiple types of media, ranging from movies and television to video games and live theater. However, there isn’t always a clear educational path for that profession.
While it is not always necessary, there are several ways to receive higher education for voice acting. Many universities with strong theater or arts programs will usually have classes and training that will be relevant for aspiring voice actors.
Many people that want to pursue voice acting don’t know what educational path to take to follow their dreams. There are many options for training and higher education, at different price points, for those that want to pursue voice acting. Keep reading to learn about the different options out there.
Is There College For Voice Acting?
Most colleges don’t have a degree or program specific to voice acting but instead will offer acting, singing, or theater programs. These programs are directly related to voice acting and require many of the same principles and techniques. By pursuing one of these programs, you will learn about performance art and other skills that will be valuable for voice acting.
Another type of program to consider is music and audio production. Since most voice acting takes place in a studio, it will be helpful to understand how the equipment and processes work for professional voice acting.
Aspiring voice actors who want to go to college should look for colleges and universities with theater and arts programs with a good reputation. Within these programs, you will be able to take courses that will provide valuable knowledge for voice acting careers, such as:
In the next sections, we will provide some specific recommendations for programs and schools so you can start your research.
At the end of the day, there are many ways to get an education in voice acting. You can pay a lot of money to go to a prestigious university, or you can take acting courses at your local community college. You will need to make your decision based on:
- Your research
- Your personal career goals
- Your budget
No matter what your criteria are, you will be able to find courses that will advance your voice acting career while fitting within your desired direction.
Best Programs or Degrees for Aspiring Voice Actors
Not many schools offer programs or degrees specifically for voice acting, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t go to school if you want to be a voice actor. Voice acting is a creative profession and has a lot of crossovers and ties to other creative jobs like acting, singing, or even moderating – like a game-show host.
Whether you want to go to a four-year college or you just want to take a few voice or traditional acting classes here and there, you will be able to find something that meets your needs.
Programs at College or University
A degree in acting, singing, or theater would be a great option for an aspiring voice actor at a four-year college or university. While working on your degree, you may want to consider taking elective courses in audio production since voice actors work primarily in studios instead of on stage or set.
Having technical knowledge and formal education in studio production, in addition to acting or singing, can give you the right background knowledge to feel confident when getting started with voice acting.
Why a Degree?
Obtaining a degree in one of these programs also gives you credibility in the field. Some jobs may require their voice actors to have some kind of degree. Going this route will open a lot of doors for you, both within the realm of voice acting as well as if you decide to pursue another career later in life.
While you are at a traditional college or university, you will have the option to take elective courses, which can be anything under the sun. No matter what you want to study, you will be able to take a class in it. You may want to consider taking classes toward another degree or double majoring in another topic.
If you go that route, then you will graduate with two degrees. This will give you another career path option if you decide later in life that you want to leave the entertainment and arts industries. While a degree in acting, performance, or production is a great asset for voice acting and other entertainment industry jobs, that specific education is not always easily transferable to other industries.
Non-College or University Classes
There are plenty of options for aspiring voice actors who want some education but not necessarily a four-year degree. Many community colleges or local associations and studios will offer classes specifically for voice acting. These will not necessarily count toward a degree but instead will help you develop skills and techniques that are essential for voice actors.
With this route, you will usually pay for each class, and you can take them on your own timeline. This option allows you only to take classes that you think will benefit you without paying for several required courses that may not be relevant to voice acting.
There are also many voice acting courses online. On platforms like MasterClass or Udemy, you can find tons of courses that are specific to voice acting. There are even courses on these sites that are specific to different career paths within voice acting.
By choosing to take classes this way, you are not loading your schedule as you would as a full-time student. This gives you more time and opportunity to find voice acting jobs or work at a day job to make money while you are building your voice acting career.
A traditional college degree can teach you a lot about the entertainment industry and give you some official credibility. However, local and online voice acting courses will give you knowledge and skills that will help you develop techniques that are specifically important to voice actors.
When thinking about whether to go to a four-year college for voice acting or not, you should research the different local and online courses available to you. These are valid alternatives to college.
Best Schools for Voice Acting
If you decide to go to a traditional college or university for voice acting, you should research the best schools. No matter which school you choose to attend or which program you decide on, you will probably graduate with a B.F.A. or a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Although none of these schools have a program specific to voice acting, their programs of study will provide you with effective:
- The ability to correctly mimic accents
- Ways to use your voice
Some institutions have a better reputation than others in regards to this type of degree. Some of the best performing arts schools in the United States are discussed below.
While many people think of Juilliard as a school devoted to musical instruments only, there is also an amazing drama division. If you are interested in studying theater to learn voice acting techniques, then Juilliard may be a great choice for you.
One thing to consider is that getting into Juilliard is incredibly competitive. Over 1,000 students apply each year, and only 20 will be admitted. You may want to work on your traditional theater skills before auditioning for the Juilliard Drama Division.
Since Juilliard is so competitive and focuses on traditional theater and acting skills rather than voice acting, this may be a school to consider for those that are interested in pursuing theater and traditional acting in addition to voice acting.
With a theater degree from Juilliard, you will likely be able to find an acting job right out of school.
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University is well known for its School of Drama and conservatory program. If you get into this program, you will spend your time learning skills and working on your instrument, which can be your body and voice.
Carnegie Mellon accepts students for both acting and musical theater. This is another school that receives thousands of applications but accepts less than 30 students per year. If you get in and decide to go to Carnegie Mellon, you will learn valuable techniques that will help you become a great voice actor.
This is another school that focuses on performance, specifically in the theater. If you decide to go to this school, you will likely be expected to participate in many theater performances. Specifically, the senior year curriculum at Carnegie Mellon focuses heavily on performance. If you enter this program, you will need to take the stage at some point.
New York University
The Tisch School of the Arts at New York University is recognized for its reputation. This school is focused on theater more than music performance or production. In the Tisch School of the Arts, students spend a lot of time practicing and rehearsing, but they also take liberal arts classes that are not necessarily related to theater.
This is a great school option for those who want to study acting and practice voice acting techniques but also want to take other classes to develop skills in addition to the entertainment industry. In this school, you will spend more time rehearsing than in other classes, but having the option to take other classes can also provide a great opportunity.
Berklee is known for having several campuses that are associated with fine and performing arts. The two most well-known Berklee are both in Boston: Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory at Berklee.
Berklee College of Music offers several majors in music, including some that would be informative for voice acting, like:
- Electronic Production and Design
- Music Production and Engineering
Taking classes in any of these areas would help you learn techniques for voice acting itself and give you insight into how voice acting production is done. Knowing about the production side of voice acting can make you a more valuable voice actor since you will be able to communicate with the production crew effectively. This can be a huge advantage in some situations.
If you are more interested in the music and theater side of voice acting education, then you might want to consider the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. The Conservatory is more focused on performance than the college of music and would be a great place to hone your voice acting talents.
Local College or University
Another school to consider for voice acting is one in your hometown or state. The schools that we have discussed so far are competitive and don’t even offer courses or majors specifically in voice acting. These schools also come with a huge price tag. If you are simply looking to learn a few techniques and develop some voice acting skills, then a local college might be a perfect fit and will be much closer to a reasonable budget.
When researching local schools, try to look into their arts and entertainment degrees. While some universities are known for their engineering and science departments, you will want to look for schools that are instead known for their acting and performing arts programs.
Although an affordable local college or university might not be internationally recognized for their acting department, you will be able to learn and practice skills and techniques that can help you become a great voice actor. Going to college and taking classes is more about what you put into your experience and study. If you do the work, then you will develop the skills.
Is College Necessary for Voice Acting?
While college can be a great way to learn about voice acting and the entertainment industry, it is not necessary to go to college to become a successful voice actor. Many people across the entertainment industry did not go to college and have found success. Depending on the career path that you want to take with your voice acting, it may even make more sense to skip college.
If you are considering not going to college for voice acting, you will need to work on your career in different ways. You will still need to educate yourself in voice acting, whether from free videos on YouTube, private coursework, or through a private voice acting coach. There are plenty of ways to learn more about voice acting, including these stand-alone courses:
- Actingandvoicestudios.com – 3-Week Online Advanced Voice-Over Intensive with Casting Director Barry Shapiro
- City-academy.com – Online Voice and Accent Classes
- Masterclass.com – Nancy Cartwright Teaches Voice Acting
- Udemy.com – Be a Voice Actor: Making a Living with Your Voice
You will also need to be diligent about finding work. One of the benefits of going to college or taking these types of courses for voice acting is that you will be able to make connections with faculty who know people in the industry. Many people land their first job out of college because of a personal connection they made while in school.
College might help you land a great job or learn a lot of technicalities about voice acting, but it is not necessary.
Career Paths for Voice Actors
Once you have decided what type of training, you will pursue to become a voice acting professional, you should consider the career paths available to you. Many people think that voice actors are only used for cartoon movies and TV shows. However, there are a ton of career options for voice actors.
Here are some that you might not have considered yet:
- Dubbed foreign films
- Video games
- Documentary narration
- Theater narration
When considering a career in voice acting, you should try to narrow down which career path you want to take. If you want to record audiobooks, your education path might look completely different from someone that wants to narrate for live theater. Knowing what you want to do within the voice acting niche after completing your training will help you narrow down which program to pursue and which classes you want to take, whether at university or a local acting club.
Voice actors are not just limited to acting in children’s entertainment. There are plenty of options available for aspiring voice actors. Once you go through the proper training, whether at a traditional college or not, you will be ready to pursue one of these careers.
Wrapping Things Up
At the end of the day, yes, there are college programs that are great for aspiring voice actors, even though there may not be any that will award a degree in voice acting. However, if you don’t want to go to a four-year university for voice acting, there are shorter programs and single classes that you can take to get training specific to voice acting.
When you decide that you want to be a voice actor, narrow down the types of work you want to do during your career. Use this information as the basis for your research, and you will be able to find job-specific recommendations for educational paths to take.