Voice over costs

May 14, 2012

Hi guys - can anyone give me a rough idea of how much a professional voice over costs?

I'm guessing it would be for 30 minutes worth.. just a ballpark idea would be fine !!



49 Replies
Dave Neuweiler

Hello Ant... in my experience, pricing for voiceover varies wildy, and the artist's pricing methods are different as well. Some price each job, some charge per page, some per word, and yet others per minute of finished audio. As an example, I posted a job at voice123.com, and had 26 people apply for the work in less than two days.

In order to compare pricing between all of these (and as I mentioned, different princing methods), I put together a spreadsheet and calculated as best I could what the cost per finished minute was. The range turned out to be $3.20 per minute at the low end, and $44.87 at the high end.

You can find more information here: http://voice123.com/doc/prices.html

I hope that helps!


Corson Bremer

As has already been mentioned, VO pricing varies quite a lot.  E-learning is the least lucrative genre for voice artists, but the most cost effective for voice seekers.  And of course there are all the amateurs (pseudo-pros) with a USB mic and some free recording software who think the "fair" price of 1/2 hour of finished audio is between $5 and $20.    

The fair and correct rate for a professional voice artist in e-learning who works from their own, professional studio can be computed several ways;  The first way starts at an average of $40 per finished minute with a $300 minimum. The second is graduated by word count with no minimum (e.g., an average of $40 for 1 - 50 words, $100 for 51 - 100 words, and so forth). The third is per individual word (e.g., an average of $0.20 a word up to 3000 words and $0.18 per word for 3001 - 5000 words, etc.).  I won't express (more than in passing) my distaste for the desperate amateurs who are constantly "low-balling" their rates and lowering the professional image of trained, professional voice artists by charging less than the true value of their work.

Clearly, my rates are in this ballpark since I'm not only a technical writer and translator who writes e-learning modules, but I'm also a full-time voice artist (and not just in e-learning).

This is, of course, just one professional's opinion.

Good luck.


Bruce Graham


May I humbly suggest that a fourth way is to encompass your entire eLearning production "package" into a simple, "one-cost per hour/xx" package that covers consultancy, planning, design, pre-production, production, post-production, and all associated voiceover services".

This is the way I work, and I work constantly, with some excellent Global/Fortune 500 clients.

I have come across many excellent "lowballer" voices - if they are fit for purpose, then they are fit for purpose. We just need to keep one step ahead with our sales offering/USP, and accept that not everyone wants, or needs professional studio output.

The Screenrs produced for mass learning from Articulate are not, to my knowledge, studio-produced, yet they are excellent tools. I'm not suggesting all recordings are good, but not everyone wants or needs full studio capabilities for eLearning.

Just my 2p worth.


PS - I use a USB mic (Samson C03U podcasting kit) and free recording software (Audacity)

Eric Nalian

At my company, we have a low budget for this sort of thing.  Generally, I do most of the recording myself and sometimes a team member will join in if I need a female voice.  My recordings are not the most perfect studio quality, but they get the job done. (The challenge for recording in an office environment without a full recording studio is finding a room that does not have a really loud fan in it and also one that does not echo).

When we did contract out our voice over work, we used college theater students, and paid them $10/hour.  It took a little bit longer to get the audio just right, and we had to work around a crazy schedule (only recording on Sunday mornings), but it got the job done and it was a great product in the end.


Corson Bremer

@Eric... I've done like you in a corporate technical documentation environment.  Nothing intrinsically wrong with that.  But, as with the written or online documentation, it is still imaging and marketing for the company.  The better the quality, the better the image... and the better the product sales.  Hence the reason I consider learning product production quality important.  When the docs, the website, the interactive training, the Wiki,  the YouTube videos and everything that talks about or explains your product is impressive, your product becomes impressive... even, frankly, when it's just a mediocre product.  That's my point.  "That will do," is not an attitude for any learning product if you want to sell the product you are explaining.  (Agreed... the budget you are given governs all of that.  But it remains an excellent argument for a better budget.) 

To expand on that thought, if you and/or people on you team take 1, 2, or 3 days to get your e-learning modules recorded and sounding "acceptable" in a questionable recording space, that was time the company was paying you for which they could have avoided by using professional voices who would have given you a good quality in 1/2 a day... while you and your team got on with writing even more modules.

I repeat, e-learning rates... even for the pros that I'm championing... are always the bottom of the voice-over barrel.  That's just the nature of e-learning.  (I make more with the vo for a 2-minute industrial expo video narration or 90 minutes of work on a videogame character for Ubisoft than for an entire day of well-paid e-learning production.)  But the Pay-to-Plays like voices.com or voice123.com or even Fiver.com aren't helping the e-learning industry or the voice-over industry.  If a dentist offered to fill a cavity for $5, would you really have confidence in the result?  Your doctor says, "$30 to pull your inflamed appendix."  Yeah, right.  

Yes, there are some good (even great) voices out there who charge next-to-nothing because they don't know better, have no confidence, or because they are financially desperate in the world economic situation.  I understand that.  And even though a "professional" (or a "hack") can be defined as "anyone who works for money", (a friend of mine still says Shakespeare was a "hack" because he wrote to pay bills and feed himself...), I go with qualified, trained, professional voice artists and their professional rates when I cast something (I am also a casting director) because they'll get it done better and quicker and with a minimum of direction, which will save me money in a real sense and not an illusory sense.

... another 2 cents.  **sheepish grin**

Bruce Graham


Interesting to hear your opinion on Voice123.

I registered there because the UK market for "Voice Talent", and people trying to break into the industry is dead at the moment, no agents are hiring. OK - I would not have been able to make a living from it, but I have had some valuable voice practice and it's provided some pocket money from time to time.

I always thought it was democratizing and opening up the industry a bit.

I agree that if will probably work out cheaper if your v/o talent can hit their marks on the first take, and you get constant quality etc., however, I still think there's a place for a (decent) USB mike, Audacity, a quiet room and a Harlan Hogan portabooth.



PS - I'd be interested in your take on this course, submitted as a recent entry to Storyline contest?

Michael Fimian

Eric Nalian said:

At my company, we have a low budget for this sort of thing.  Generally, I do most of the recording myself and sometimes a team member will join in if I need a female voice.  My recordings are not the most perfect studio quality, but they get the job done. (The challenge for recording in an office environment without a full recording studio is finding a room that does not have a really loud fan in it and also one that does not echo).

When we did contract out our voice over work, we used college theater students, and paid them $10/hour.  It took a little bit longer to get the audio just right, and we had to work around a crazy schedule (only recording on Sunday mornings), but it got the job done and it was a great product in the end.


Hi Eric...

I've found that a cheap banker's box, with a thick towel cut and glued to all sides of the inside works great;  No echoes, transient noise isn't recorded and, if you have a good mic, you can produce great results.  Still like to sweeten and clean using Sound Forge.

The only downside is that people who walk by your door see you talking to the inside of a box and think you're crazy!


Eric Nalian

@Michael they moved me and the other two folks in our training dept. to the far back corner of the office! Nobody walks back there to see us crazy folk...  I can do all the weird stuff I want at the office, like glue towels to boxes and nobody would notice [evil laughter].

I'll have to make one of those this weekend, looks like I get to go to the thrift store to get some towels.

Gina Hoekstra

I also have no budget for this, and do it all myself. I bought a Yeti mic and have started working on the homemade boxes for soundproofing. Although I have no skills for "changing" my voice for accents, I think they sound pretty good. I am by no means a professional, but it's funny...when I meet the people that have taken my course I half expect them to recognize the voice, but when I say I did the voiceover, they all say...wow...really? I wouldn't have guessed!

I even had to move to another floor and get a different office because my old office was so loud (air conditioning noise, noise from my neighbor who had a loud phone voice that traveled through the vents and the constant openeing and closing of the door that was next to my office!)! I end up recording and working from home a lot to do this, but at least my office is MUCH more quite now (but when I have the need to "speak into the box"....I go home!) lol!!!

Chad Harris

We do a lot of Voice Over work for projects like this.  Typically the prices for professional voice talent are usually in the $250 range for a :30-:60 spot  that is done as a straight non-union BUY OUT (meaning that you pay one time and can use the recording forever) - - - but some Voice Actors do it for much less.  Typically you should be able to get professional (although not union) voice overs done for between $50-$200 for a :30 to :90 second project. (That is the total run time of the finished voice over.) We offer a few packages like retainer discounts - so if someone is doing a lot of regular projects we work with them to find a price in their range based on the volume of work they have.  Some of our clients do enough volume that they are averaging about $40 per spot.  Long-form narration we typically charge between $200-$300 for projects that are 10-20 minutes long give or take.  But again that is a ball park range.  And a client with a regular number of 30 minute projects will pay less than $200.    

If you want to spend the big bucks, there are some incredibly talented Union (AFTRA) voice actors.  I have been a union member, and the money is nice, but when we started our own company, I couldn't afford to pay myself the union scale.  So I had to surrender my card.

Essentially if you have VO work and you have ANY BUDGET, approach the talent you like, find out what kind of turn around they can offer you, and then negotiate your price.  We have a base price, but since we are not union, that price has flexibility and if someone is bringing in regular work, it is well worth it to do whatever we can to fit within the structure of their budget.  Our mic gets a lot of use, but every minute it sits on the stand without a mouth talking into it, is a minute with out money coming in the door.  

Also another trick for a good temporary VO booth.  Typically a closet with clothing in it makes a great sound booth.  Another excellent place that I have recorded when on vacation, is in a car.  A car typically has sound deadening material built into it which reduces the ambient noise.  (obviously a car parked next to an airport, or a war zone will not be helpful, but in a reasonably quite area, an automobile can be a makeshift booth) On more than one occasion I took my portable voice rig on vacation, got a text from a client, had them email the script, set up the mic in the back seat of our SUV, I read the copy off my iPhone, then sent them the .AIFF file within 30 minutes.  They never knew I wasn't in my studio at home.  Hope this helps.          

Colin Eagles

We also use our own internal talent - our internal Customer's get a kick out of recognizing the voices.  We use a Yeti mic and usually do the recordings at home (to avoid the HVAC sounds at work).

Chad's idea of recording in the car is something that I'm totally going to test out.  I'm sure that folks'll get a kick out of seeing me talking to myself in my parked car in our lot, "that crazy training guy has really lost it now!"

Michael Case

Hello Ant,

Selecting a professional narrator should be simple, fast, high-quality, and predictable in terms of cost.  In my own research, I’ve found the best results for this criteria with the providers that price-per-page.

I see other users in this thread are using The Narrator Files, whom I would recommend to you as well.  You’ll find top quality narration there in any desired audio format with fast turnaround at a fixed cost of $20 per 12 point courier, 1.5 spaced page.

Compared to the industry average rate of $25 per finished minute, where 10 minutes of narration (5 pages) should cost $250, paying a set price-per-page will only set you back a total of $100.  This is by far the most transparent method of establishing a rate, considering other factors in a price-per-minute scheme may increase your cost.  For example; If the talent reads more slowly than average or the script calls for pauses, such as between bullets. Before you know it, your script length, in terms of time, can easily increase by 50%. Unless your narrator is feeling very charitable, they are going to charge you for that extra time.

I hope this was helpful in your search Ant.



Kate Hoelscher

This is an interesting discussion!  We record all in-house.  Sometimes use photos of the person who is talking so they put an internal face to a voice as well.  I think it's also easier to make those quick, urgent changes when you have the person who did the voice right there to make changes spur of  the moment.  I agree that it would sound better with pros, but for interal education we use what we have!!  If we did external education I could see it more as marketing and needing more for sure. 

T. Travis

The reality is you can get "professional" voiceover narration for any price you might imagine. Right now, on the Los Angeles Craigslist, there will be several ads asking for voice talent, and the only pay will be "copy-and-credit". And, yes, each of these ads will get hundreds of applicants. There has even been ads suggesting that you can "break into the lucrative voiceover field" by recording programs where they charge the voiceover talent to do the narration.

For someone creating an e-learning program, however, it would seem that the question that should be asked is "What is it that we actually are getting for our expenditure? If we pay 50 cents-per word, will that give us that much more value than 10 cents-per-word?"

If the total budget for a program is $20,000, would spending an additional $300.00 for the voiceover improve the quality that much? My opinion is that it would. Here's why:

(1) If you're using effective narration in your program, most of the actual communication that occurs will be through the voiceover. You can throw all kinds of fancy graphics and animation at the student, but it will be primarily the voiceover that keeps the student engaged in the program through the emotional content and tone of the audio message.

(2) You need the voiceover artist to be able to dedicate sufficient time to your project to establish meaningful communication with the student. At 15-cents per word, (in the U.S.) a professional voice talent has just enough time to do one take, play back to make sure there are no problems, and move on. If the voice talent takes much more time than that, they are working for, essentially, minimum wage. Because your audio is so important, you want to hire a professional, who would need to charge professional rates.

(3) You need someone who can take the time to understand the material, then can plan the delivery, evaluate each take, and then afford to do sufficient re-takes to give the read all that it deserves.

(4) There's a lot more that gets communicated in the audio track than most people realize: See -http://youtu.be/ZpZzhuL0KdA for an explanation.

-Travis - http://www.trainingvo.com

Paul Lush

Adam Mastalerz said:

You may want to check out voices.com, they gave us a pretty good price for our e-Learning Development projects.

I think a voice can run anywhere from $500-$2000 but you would need your script, and it all depends how much voice you need.

I concur - I use this service almost exclusively.  My projects vary significantly both from a budget and dynamics perspective.  We have developed some great relationships with a number of narrators that have been able to help us work through some of our more complicated projects.  From a cost perspective, I would have spent additional hours researching (at an internal cost) to achieve the results that Voices.com provides.  As mentioned by others, the quotes will vary significantly, it will be a matter of fit - both budgetary and talent quality.

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