When watching an animated show or movie or playing a video game, we are given an array of interesting-looking and sounding characters who grab our attention. Many who want to work in the entertainment industry but do not want to physically be on camera will lean more toward working as a voice actor. But how much does someone working in this career earn?
Many factors go into determining the earnings of a particular voice actor. Much like other careers, experience and skills tend to play a part in determining one’s salary. The average base pay for a voice actor, however, tends to be around 44,990 a year.
While this salary seems to be a basis in figuring the pay of voice actors, many voice actors are paid much more. Continue reading to learn the salaries of specific voice actors as well as how much a voice actor may make per episode or movie and whether or not they are overpaid.
How Much Do Voice Actors Get Paid
Voice actors are paid on a per project/job basis. Like other work fields, a voice actor’s experience in the field plays a role in the amount they earn. Someone less experienced and newer to the field will be paid less than a voice actor who has worked in the industry for a while and has much more experience.
Some factors that influence the amount a voice actor gets paid are:
- Level of experience and skill
- Representation of an agency
- Whether the work is unionized or non-unionized
- How well one is able to market themselves as a voice actor
Experience and Skill Level
Being a beginner or novice in a field implies that one will not be paid the most money expected. One would need to familiarize themselves with the industry in order to work toward more work with higher paying salaries, and this takes time.
Many voice actors will get their start doing commercials and work their way to bigger roles in television shows, movies, or video games. By starting off with commercials and more general voice acting work, one can work to establish themselves in the field before going into more specialized work.
Everyone’s voice is unique and can be applied to both general and specific roles. There are roles in which a certain type of voice works better for the role and roles where the type of voice will not work as well. In order to negotiate and find more work, a voice actor’s best resource is an agency.
Voice-over agencies help to find auditions for jobs and help to support the voice actor they are representing. Agencies will also work to negotiate contracts with clients as well as serve as a connection between a voice actor and a client.
Some popular voiceover agencies include:
The five agencies listed above work to aid voiceover actors with getting jobs in the entertainment industry as well as help with navigating the entertainment industry as a voiceover actor.
Unionized and Non-Unionized Work
If a voice actor is part of a union, their pay is often determined by the guidelines set by that union. Not every country has unions that support voice actors; however, in the United States, SAG-AFTRA is one that represents many different actors, singers, and voiceover artists.
If a voice actor (voiceover artist) decides to not go with working with a union, they can still do very well in the voiceover business if they do well in marketing themselves. For actors and artists who chose to do non-union work, their pay is proportional to how much they prepare when coming into a contract agreement as well as what opportunities they are able to take.
Another factor that goes into how well a voice actor is paid is determined by how well the actor/artist is able to market themselves to clients. In order to self-market yourself, it is important to focus on working in the industry and building relationships within the industry. The network built from these relationships can help lead to more work within the industry.
How Much Do Voice Actors Make Per Episode
As previously stated, the rate at which a voice actor is paid relies heavily on many different factors. The salary of a voice actor is also determined based on the project they are working on. A voice actor for a video game is paid differently from a voice actor in a cartoon or anime.
It is also important to note that the company that is producing the game, show, or movie can be factored into determining the pay for the actor/artist. For example, a voice actor for a Disney production can expect to be paid anywhere from $26 to $45 per hour for a project.
A big factor in determining the pay of a voice actor per episode is the word count of the voice actor’s script as well as the time they spend recording for the episode.
How Much Can A Voice Actor Make Per Job
Along with experience and representation, the job a voice actor takes on will contribute to the base pay they should expect. The chart below lists some of the jobs a voice actor/artist can do as well as the pay which could be expected for that job.
|Commercial (local radio)||Around $100|
|Commercial (national TV)||Up to $10,000|
|Short animation||Around $100|
|Animated Short (Starring)||Up to $10,000|
|Animated Feature Film||Possibly $10,000 or more|
|Audiobook Narration||Anywhere from $200-300 per recording hour|
Earnings of Famous Voice Actors
There have been many famous voice actors throughout time. From doing the voiceovers for commercials to voicing some of the animated characters who worked their ways into the hearts of audiences, many of the voices became very known to everyone.
Mel Blanc was famous for his role as a voice actor on radio programs, cartoons shorts, and many different tv series. He is the voice of many of Looney Tunes characters. Some of his most well-known characters are:
- Bug Bunny
- Daffy Duck
- Porky Pig
- Wile E. Coyote
At the time of his death in 1989, Mel Blanc’s net worth was equivalent to around $25 million today. Although he did die over thirty years ago, many of the characters he voiced are still watched today through re-runs of the old episodes which he voiced.
Seth MacFarlane is known for his work on shows such as “Family Guy”, “The Cleveland Show”, and “American Dad”, both of which he created. He also worked to voice characters such as:
- Ted in the movie Ted (2012)
- Mike in the movie Sing (2016)
- Stan Smith in “American Dad”
- Stewie Griffin in “Family Guy”
- Brian Griffin in “Family Guy”
- Peter Griffin in “Family Guy”
- Roger Smith in “American Dad”
Many of the characters voiced by MacFarlane are characters he created for his shows. He has established himself as an actor, voice actor, animator, comedian, director, and producer.
Currently, Seth MacFarlane’s net worth sits around $300 million. As of 2016, MacFarlane made $50,000 per episode of Family Guy. This payment is from his extensive work on the show as a writer, producer, and voice actor. Most of MacFarlane’s money, however, also comes from a yearly salary he receives from the Fox network which equals about $2 million.
Tara Strong is a voice actress whose voice gave life to many cartoon characters on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network in the early 2000s. She has done a great deal of work in both animated films and animated television series. Some of her most notable characters are:
- Bubbles from “The Powerpuff Girls”
- Timmy Turner from “The Fairly Oddparents”
- Raven from “Teen Titans”
- Truffles in “Chowder”
- Ember McLain in “Danny Phantom”
- Dil Pickles in “Rugrats”
- Melody in The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea (2000)
With a net worth of approximately $10 million, Tara Strong is one of the many voice actors that is represented by DPN Talent. Along with voice acting, Strong has also done a fair amount of acting. She took up the role of Miss Collins in the show “Big Time Rush” on Nickelodeon.
Dee Bradley Baker
Dee Bradley Baker is known for his voice acting for characters in “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, “Phineas and Ferb”, and “American Dad”. Baker has voiced many animated television characters, including:
- Appa from “Avatar: The Last Airbender”
- Momo from “Avatar: The Last Airbender”
- Perry the Platypus from “Phineas and Ferb”
- Klaus Heissler from “American Dad”
Along with these roles, Baker has also had the opportunity t voice characters in Space Jam, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Happy Feet, Frankenweenie, and many others. These roles have contributed to Dee Bradley Baker building up a net worth of $6 Million.
Seth Green is famous for starring in the Austin Powers movies as well as starring in movies and tv shows such as Party Monster in 2003 and The Italian Job in 2003. Along with these on-screen roles, Seth Green has also done a wide variety of voice acting. He is the voice of characters such as:
- Howard the Duck in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and its sequel Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
- Chris Griffin in “Family Guy”
- Neil Goldman in “Family Guy”
Along with these characters, Green has been the voice actor behind many of the characters in Adult Swim’s “Robot Chicken”. Due to all of these different roles, Seth Green has been able to amass a net worth of $40-45 million.
Patrick Warburton is commonly known for his roles on shows such as “Rules of Engagement”, where he plays the character of Jeff Bingham, and “Seinfeld” where he played the character of David Puddy. Much like other voice actors, Warburton has done a mixture of both on-screen and voice acting roles. Some of the characters Warburton has been the voice of are:
- Kronk in The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
- Joe Swanson in “Family Guy”
- Sheriff Bronson Stone in “Scooby-Doo: Mystery Inc”
- Steve Barkin in “Kim Possible”
- Ken in Bee Movie (2007)
- The Big Bad Wolf in Hoodwinked (2005)
Through his work as an actor and voice actor, Warburton has accumulated a net worth of approximately $20 million. Warburton has one of the most recognizable voices in the entertainment industry, so it is not difficult to discover which characters he voices in the various projects he has worked on.
Who Is The Highest Paid Voice Actor
The highest-paid voice actor is a duo of voice actors: Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Both Parker and Stone are known for their creation of the animated show “South Park”. The two also worked together on many different films, including:
- Cannibal! The Musical (1993)
- Orgazmo (1997)
- South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut (1999)
Both men also worked on the 2001 series “That’s My Bush!” which aired on Comedy Central and “Sassy Justice” which is a 2020 web series.
Both Trey Parker and Matt Stone have each accumulated a net worth of at least $500 million. Trey Parker’s estimated net worth comes in at about $600 million, and Matt Stone’s net worth is about $700 million. Both men worked hard in the entertainment industry to reach the level of success they have today.
Are Voice Actors Overpaid?
After reading this article, it can be assumed that voice actors do not get overpaid. While as audience members viewing the finished project, we do not understand the work that has gone into the production of the show or film we are watching, so we may assume that voice actors do not put in a great deal of work for their projects.
This, however, is not the case. Many voice actors have worked for years networking and building up their resumes to reach the level of success they have today, and they do more than just go into a recording booth and read lines off a sheet of paper. Many takes go into getting the inflection of the voice right for the situation that the animated character is in.
Whether it is for a commercial, animated work, or narration, a voice actor must prepare for the role they will be playing similar to how an on-screen actor will prepare for whatever scene they are filming on a specific day. Similar to the way people are paid for the hours they work, the time a voice actor spends working on a particular project will have an effect on the earnings of the actor.
For the different reasons shown in the earlier part of this article, voice actors are not overpaid for the work they put in to make the quality entertainment we choose to sit back and enjoy.
Voice actors put in a great deal of work to bring the animated characters we see in movies and television shows alive. While there are many voice actors in the entertainment industry, there are some voice actors who are very recognizable. Some of these voice actors are:
- Patrick Warburton
- Seth Green
- Seth MacFarlane
- Tara Strong
- Mel Blanc
Each of these voice actors has put in many hours of work to voice the popular characters we are able to contribute to them. Many of these actors have also taken on the roles of writer or producer on the shows in which they voice particular characters, such as Seth MacFarlane with the shows “Family Guy” and “American Dad”.
If you are considering voice acting, it is important to realize that you will not be making hundreds of thousands of dollars at the beginning. Many voice actors have spent years working in and navigating the entertainment industry to reach the point where they are making the vast amounts of money they are accumulating.
To get started as a voice actor, it is smart to begin looking into doing voiceover work on commercials in order to build a network of people within the voiceover and voice acting industry which can help lead to more, better-paying work.
It is also wise to look into different agencies and unions which represent voice actors. Many of these unions and agencies can help to promote you as a voice actor as well as establish a base pay you can expect from certain jobs and be a support system for you as you work in the industry.
With all of this information, it is important to note that most voice actors gain a major portion of the wealth from other means, such as writing, producing, and other types of work within the entertainment industry.
Even the highest paid voices actors have multiple different ways which they have used in order to build up their massive net worth. While both Trey Parker and Matt Stone have gained a great deal of wealth from their work as voice actors, they also received a decent amount of pay from the fact they are the creators of the popular animated show “South Park”.