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 !!



50 Replies
T. Travis

OK, I had a couple of inquires, and even though it's bad "business" form, I'll relay my response here, for those who might be interested. (Hey, I'm an "artist", not a business person.)


For a typical script, my "Standard" (pre-recession) rate is about 33 cents-per-word.  However, since it's very much a "buyers" market, I'm happy (OK, well grudgingly) to work for a rate that's a bit lower.  If you have a project in mind, let me know the details and your budget, and I'll do what I can to work within your parameters.  


However, if an e-learning developer wants to record narration the "right" way - the way that will provide the best learning experience for the student, that's not the true cost. The most expensive part of the cost for "good" narration is your (the director's) time. For the vast majority of e-learning projects (well, ALL of them) the director/producer/developer sends me a script, I record it, and send back an audio file.  

However, when I work on a low-budget documentary, the director, who is concerned about the actual amount of real communication that occurs between the filmmaker and the audience, will arrange to direct me as I work.  That way, each sentence gets the kind of attention it deserves.  I get to work with the director to establish the proper "tone" of each scene.  We set up a Skype session or phone-patch, source-connect or ISDN, or, even better, we go to a local "real" audio production studio where the director sits on the other side of the glass with a recording engineer.  As a result, even though there's a lot more "quality" production going on, I can work much faster - I don't need to be distracted by the recording process, or to check myself on each read.  The "director" is the person who determines whether I got each read right.  As a result, the overall cost for the narration is not that much different than working out of my own studio.

-Travis - http://www.training-vo.com

Bruce Graham


I may sound like a bit of a heretic here, but the majority of eLearning developers that I have come across would not know how to start being a vocal "director". Hoping I have not misunderstood the thrust of your post above.

I agree that a Director can bring out the best in a voice, (3 hours to get 3-4 minutes is my experience...), however, just because someone developed eLearning does not mean they would know how to direct and provide the vocal nuances that a "professional" director can, even one that has no idea of  the subject matter.

I would agree though with the basic tenet that the more time you spend on vocals, the better (usually), they turn out to be.


Andy Bowyer

I've been narrating/producing eLearning for going on seven years.  The only times I can recall wishing I had a "director" in the booth with me were situations that involved industry-specific jargon.  Nothing drives me out of my mind more than putting the "em-PHASis" on the wrong "sylLABle" simply because I don't know any better.  I'd much rather have someone say "It's a SCREW driver, not a screw DRIVER" or whatever.  Sometimes when I'm in real doubt, I'll ask for clarification up front. 

Those are the kinds of things that, I think, can distract a learner, and destroy a narrators credibility faster than anything.  When something an electrician says every day is "taught to them" with the wrong inflection:  it screams "well, this guy/gal hasn't a clue what they're *really* talking about, now do they?"  For example, in "my parts" we have a town called "Pulaski".  Of course, everywhere else in the world, it's pronounced "PUH-las-kee".  But not here.  We say "Pew-LASS-key".  You can always tell when someone's from out of town when they say it the first few times, especially on a VO for local radio or TV.

Anyway...another .02 from yours truly...


T. Travis

Bruce, I agree that many elearning developers don't know how to direct, but I think "teaching" the teachers is part of our job. Also, I think that an hour recording per-finished-minute is a bit high.  I usually work at a 6-to-one ratio at my own studio (six minutes of my recording time for each minute of completed, edited audio, separated into individual files for each "page" or "scene".  When I work at an outside studio my ratio is more like 3.5-to-one - and that includes getting direction.  -so long as the director doesn't get too picky. The studio then completes the edit, from what I understand, adding an additional 3 minutes per completed minute, so the actual total time required is about the same.  There is economy though, because the studio time is usually much lower per-hour than what I need to charge. 

So for long projects, working at an outside studio can actually less expensive (I charge by the hour then, which is quite a bit less than my standard per-word rate, when my time isn't being used for editing.) and the quality of the VO due to the real-time direction and fewer distractions for the talent, is higher.

Jesica Garrou

Bruce Graham said:

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

I know this is an old post, but I wanted you to know, that is a great, fun course.  I see it's hosted on dropbox, but please don't take it down! It's a great example for my clients and staff. Thanks for sharing.

Bruce Graham

Jesica Garrou said:

Bruce Graham said:

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

I know this is an old post, but I wanted you to know, that is a great, fun course.  I see it's hosted on dropbox, but please don't take it down! It's a great example for my clients and staff. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks Jesica,

The one thing I would redo on that course if I had the time is, ironically, the voiceover.

It was all done in a it of a rush, but hope in some way you found it useful

Did you find all the kittens?


Rebecca Haugh

Hi - Again I also see this is an old post but for some reason it got posted on twitter and here I am.
I am a VO talent and I do a lot of different work, but because of my corporate training background, I enjoy eLearning. Sometimes it can be rote and more often it's cool topics that I enjoy learning about while I record.  I like science and tech and medical, and get a lot of that. Sometimes it's a regular client who needs uberfast get it done VO and they rely on me, because we already have been working together.

Regarding rates, as you can see if you've read this thread, it's a bit of range depending on who the talent is, their experience, and the needs of the developer and end client. I've assisted some folks do their own VO when they can't afford me or want to use in-house, and I've worked with some clients for years doing various projects and enjoy crafting character voices for their projects. And even with that, various clients are all about fast and cheap, and others are much more concentrated on quality of voice, demeanor, pacing... You can see my information at http://www.lovethatrebecca.com/elearning.html

When I started, I wasn't sure how to price myself either, and it seemed really wacky how it was all over the place with pages and font size and margins!!  So I boiled it down to either price per finished minute or price per word, with minimum per project rates. It's important to recognize that the less variables there are, the easier to figure it out. I'm not going to post rates here because time passes and things change, but feel free to contact me if you like my voice.

Going to places online like Voices123.com and others are fine if you have the time and tenacity to sort through the mega-responses you'll likely get. I think referrals are always better, if you're able to get some. I've often referred my clients to fellow male VO talent when a male voice is needed. Forums like this are a great place to learn and get referrals.

What I recommend is that if you don't have a budget, try using someone in-house that reads well out loud and has enough confidence to not sound too stilted when being recorded. If you need help and no one in your office can help you, reach out through colleagues and eLearning associations for referrals to a person who is known in your circles. Use their experience to help guide you. ELearning Guild and ELearning Industry.com are also great resources (if they are keeping up their sites on this topic). And certainly feel free to call me.

Matt Lobel

At The Narrator Files we have a fairly unique pricing model.  Per page, not per minute.  It works out to a very competitive rate.  Also we have a quality assurance process built into our model and 10+ voice talent to choose from.  Very good quality and fast turns, all professional talent that have been with us for years.

Diane Maggipinto

I have a client  that specializes in eLearning and training development for nursing home staff.  The module scripts are both technical and everyman, and really enjoyable to be a part of as narrator/voice talent.  The rate is $200 per hour, which includes script formatting, recording, editing, sweetening, converting files (format) for drop-in, and uploading to the ftp.  The average program is 140 modules, and takes 4-6 hours. The time varies depending on the length of the modules, of course. One can safely figure a ratio of 1:3 or 1:4 for recording:editing.

 If you'd like to chat more about that or any other voice talent-related questions, don't hesitate to call or email.

Diane Maggipinto

d3 voiceworks




Diane Maggipinto

I realize this is an old topic, but the conversation around quality, professionalism, and rates is about the same. I'm commenting here to ask why simply "get the job done" with "recordings (that) are not the most perfect" when such diligence, skill, thought, and time go into the other components of your project.
Thanks, Bruce and Corson for your perspectives. :)
Diane Maggipinto, d3 voiceworks

Irene Peet


Regarding recording costs, I think Diane Maggipinto's estimate is pretty much in the ball park. That includes the voice talent, recording, studio, engineer and editing the files. If you need each file to be separated, an additional cost apply for the time spent. But of course, any project/volume can be discussed. A flat fee for the entire project is also possible.

Best Regards,

Irene Peet

lilian soon

What do people do if the courseware requires updating? How do you ensure you get the same voice? We may only need 1 slide updating, for instance. It would be a time consuming job to re-record the entire module and replace the audio each time we needed to make a change to just one slide?

Because of this, we've used Text-to Speech software so far, but our current supplier is no longer extending the contract. If anyone also uses TTS and can provide an alternative commercial supplier, I'd be very grateful!

Or if someone has a good idea about how to get around the voiceover and tiny changes required issue, I'd love to hear from you.

T. Travis

Hi Lilian,

Before the recession, about half of my voiceover business was e-learning. However, as the recession took hold and budgets got tight, it soon became clear to me that most e-learning projects no longer had adequate resources available to hire a professional voice talent.  

If you hire a professional, and develop a good working relationship, making minor changes is not a problem.  I would make minor changes all the time for regular clients, charging next-to-nothing or nothing at all, and was glad to do it. Good clients will take care of you, and you don't need to nickel-and-dime them in order to make a profit.  You're happy to do a favor for them any time. 

However, if you don't have the budget to hire professional talent, then, not only are you working with amateurs, those amateurs, who are working for less than minimum wage, won't feel any kind of obligation to help you out of a bind. 

If Text-To-Speech rates are your only option, there are plenty of TTS aps out there, some completely free.  However, now that the economy seems to be improving, it might be wise to consider raising budgets for the audio in your programs to a point where you can count on them to solve your problems.

-Travis  www.TrainingVO.com 

Lisa Smyser

Hi Lilian,

Working regularly with someone you trust is a good plan. A professional voiceover artist is more likely to be around for a while. Also if you use a service like voices.com, they will help you find a voice that sounds very similar to the original if that person is no longer available. That way you don't have to re-record.

Mike Harrison

Ultimately, the true value of a voice-over is NOT how much or little they cost or that they "have a great voice." It should be based on whether he or she is able to CORRECTLY interpret the writer's words and give them their proper weight (ie, correct inflection) so that they sound BELIEVABLE. If someone calling him or herself a voice talent is not able to do this, they are simply reading words from a page, which practically anyone can do.

We've all had boring school teachers. Why should students be expected to be enthusiastic or even slightly interested if the instructor clearly is not?

In order to ENGAGE the learner, the instructor MUST be engaging. The success of eLearning is based on how much knowledge is RETAINED so that it can later be APPLIED.

A true professional may cost more, but the difference is night and day.

This discussion is closed. You can start a new discussion or contact Articulate Support.