Narrator rates

Dec 15, 2016

Hello. We're looking into using a professional narrator for our e-learning sessions. Would appreciate it if you can share the rates you pay/paid. I'd like to get a sense of a reasonable price range per word. Thanks!

22 Replies
Nicole Legault

Hey Danny, 

Thanks for posting your question here in the forums! I know we've got lots of great voice talent here in the community. You might be interested in checking out the following links:

E-Learning Narration and Voice Over Portfolios (full of great portfolios and voice over examples)

Voice over costs (discussion from 4 years ago but could still provide some juicy, useful tidbits)

Narrator Voice Over Rates (another past discussion)

Hiring voice over or doing it yourself? 

Hopefully you can get some good insights from these past discussoins as well. Best of luck!! :) 

Peter Burn

I do my own and charge on average 800 CAD for 25 - 30 slides. Record with SM7B or KSM32 in sound booth into Tascam 70D and edit with primarily with Adobe Audition CS6 (hate cc 2015 version).  I include music beds in that price, either custom building with Sonic Fire, downloading from Audioblocks or pulling something from the hundreds of CDs and digital albums we have accumulated over the past twenty odd years.  Your best bet if you want to get pros for less is hire one of your local newscasters.  I do that sometimes too.

Peter Burn

You might want to consider buying a good mic (SM7B), a mic stand, the mini studio box Pyle makes to go around the mic and a Steinberg USB interface with 48v phantom and great mic preamp.  Now that you have the gear, you hire a radio guy for a couple of hours and pay far less than studio-based talent.  Plus you have total control over the process.  Edit with Adobe Audition or any other option that accepts izotope RX noise reduction plugin and you are good to go.  You'll recoup your equipment costs in a couple of projects.

As noted,

If I need 

Enes Karahasanovic

I use to pay between 200 - 300 EUR for a medium sized eLearning narration, not so long ago. It depends on where your narrator is located, because I learned prices vary from country to country. There are lots of talented narrator in "lower-rate" countries who ask three times less money than narrators in US or UK, Germany and similar.

Magda Diaz

In my experience (I always hire talent rather than record myself) the rates are 20 cents to 40 cents per word. My projects are in the 300 to 500 word range.

My favorite vendor is Wooley Bugger

I have also used and as well as individual talent like

One thing to ask for is a small demo and always give them good direction. A lot of talent work in radio and television and they speak too fast for narration, so make sure that you explain exactly what you need. Ask them what their redo rate is incase you need to re-record something.

I also pull out any acronyms and make sure they know how to pronounce them before recording.

If you have picky clients/stakeholders, you might want to record a "scratch track" yourself so they can hear the pacing before you hire talent.

Peter Burn

"If you have picky clients/stakeholders, you might want to record a "scratch track" yourself so they can hear the pacing before you hire talent."

One of my fellow developers uses "text-to-speech" for the first draft.  In our world (petrochemical, mining and oil refineries) there are so many acronyms incorporated into the clients' everyday speech that many first draft scripts are incomprehensible.  Client watches the draft, realizes bowtie, SMS, WebCat, PSM, MHI, HHA, WBS, SOW, etc mean nothing to the uninitiated and get back with translations.  

I do most of my own VOs, have done so since graduating Columbia School of Broadcasting back in the mid-80s.  My son does a lot of VO work for us too.  Otherwise, I  hire someone from the news department of one of the local Radio stations.   We are primarily a video production company therefore no need to outsource much.


JD Coburn

Hi Danny, I was in that business for a great many years.  Here's what to look for.  Open up an audition.  Voice123 is one option, there are dozens of online voice-over directories.  In an hour you will have 10 hours worth of 2 minute demo's to listen to.  Every one of them will quote a price below scale.  Hint, There is a difference between these people, who will work for free if you let them, and a professional, who won't work for free at all.  The professionals are really good at it and can deliver exactly what you want.  Find the sound you want and the delivery style that best reflects your brand.  SAG/AFTRA is their union (you want the AFTRA side) and I highly recommend you work with a pro.  Yes, it costs more because it's worth it. I hope that helps.

JD Coburn

p.s. Everybody thinks they do great voice over and almost no one can.  Don't listen to what the hacks say they can do, listen to what the professionals do.  Something recorded in a basement office with room noise, over compressed with a bunch of plug ins just sound amateurish.  People will forgive bad writing and even bad video but bad audio is unforgivable.  In the business we call it being 'commercial' which has nothing to do with commercials.  'Commercial' means that some bit of work meets the audience's level of expectation.  There is always a 'station guy', one guy at every radio station who thinks he's THAT good and he's not.  Don't go cheap.  If a job was down to you, a professional, and some bozo straight out of community college, you would know that there is no comparison.

Peter Burn

800 CAD is just 595 USD, so not really big bucks.

Producing narration tracks is more than just speaking into a mic. You need an audio booth or a soundproofed room. We use Shure SM7Bs and KSM 32s to record to a Tascam 70D via a Soundcraft EP6. The scripts have to be rehearsed then "acted out", as in put emphasis and pauses where required to match screen elements. Some long tracks require music beds, which we create with Sonic FIre Pro or (last resort) edit music tracks for length. The audio editor compiles the clips to match slides and layers, numbering them accordingly.

Because Storyline cannot trigger events based on player head position on the timeline, the audio editor must manually write down the time codes for them. The cue points are okay but for some reason my timeline previews won't play half the time. ToolBook uses code based on milliseconds for event triggers, something I wish Storyline had.

Most of our revenue comes from Video Production so I use eLearning as a vehicle for getting video work. Most of the apps we produce are video intensive with a few review pages, branched scenarios and a unit quiz. If you want to make really big bucks, get all the licensing and insurance required to do drone video anywhere anytime within the constraints of your country's aviation laws. Transport Canada requires us to get Restricted Radio Operator certificates for our blanket SFOP, so we're confined to flying 5 nautical miles outside city limits for the nonce.

Sent from Outlook

Maria Pappas

Hi Danny: 

We use professional voice talents for all of our projects. And the price does range. We develop the script and do it by word count. Ballpark, our range is reasonable, and we have a lot of great talent. If you'd like I can share some of their info with you (after checking with them of course). But I'll give you a ballpark -- we pay by the minute as we seldom have courses that are a full hour in one sitting and often there are projects that require multiple voice talents. So we basically take the hourly rate, then figure out the cost per minute and go from there. 

Anyway, our ball park range for 60 minutes ranges between $275 - $500 depending on the project, and the individual (there's other factors).

Also, I'm obsessed with this tool, it helps to estimate the script time.

And if you would like for me to share some of my favorite voice talents let me know and I'll be happy to ask if they'd be interested (can't see why not! more work for them!) 

I hope that helps! 

Bruce Graham


I think there's a bit of "voiceover snobbery" here. We used to get told only "Pro" video guys were OK for eLearning, now we/I use cuts from our iPhones regularly, that's what people are used to.

I've used "Pros" for voiceover, (and some of the kit they have is REALLY impressive, with lots of numbers and letters and EVERYTHING!) Some of the TV/radio pros were rubbish, I wanted 30 minutes of HR/compliance eLearning, not Game of Thrones...

I've used Andy at abvoices many times (hi old friend!), oh, and I've made a very good living since 2009 including voiceover as part of my value proposition. According to some of the comments here, I'm just an unprofessional hack, as I do not have all the gear, and my "studio" is not fully soundproofed.

I include the v/o in whatever fee I'm going to charge, and guess what...sometimes if you are talking to the right "business oriented" people/sponsors, then simplicity beats a "pro" voice every time. Most eLearning voice projects I get need to be re-written anyway, so I'll never charge " the word".

Bottom line, do what suits the client. I've done v/o for some of the biggest, most well-known corporates in the world, and they didn't seem to mind the output, largely because I can write, speak well, and offer a complete business solution.

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