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What Are the Different Types of Voice over Jobs?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

The different types of voice over jobs can be categorized into media or products that involve television, radio, film, video games and audio books. Some of these require mainly a distinctive, clear voice, while others also demand considerable acting talent. Commercials, cartoon character voices, dubbing, promos, narrating, and reading fiction or non-fiction books for audio recordings are some of the different kinds of voice over jobs.

A voice over actor may specialize in either fiction or non-fiction audio book recordings. Some of these voice over readers even have an entire career in this one area of voice over work once they get some experience in the field. These "books on tape" may be for blind people, seniors or those in hospitals. Readers in these audio book voice over jobs must usually have a soothing, yet lively voice with a lot of expression and fluctuation in tone.

Narrators often have a unique, richly distinctive voice, such as James Earl Jones' deep, dramatic one. Narration voice over jobs may include television or film documentaries as well as promos. Television, radio or film promos require a voice over artist to use the ideal blend of enthusiasm and likability to be convincing in inspiring viewers or listeners to come back for other shows. A promo voice over actor for radio or television often first identifies the station, then the time and date of the particular show being promoted.

Dubbing voice over jobs involve watching the screen image of a human actor, animal or cartoon and voicing the script lines to match the mouth movements as closely as possible. Dubbing is considered a bonus skill in the voice over industry. Actors or artists capable of voicing different dialects and accents are especially likely to do well in this type of voice over work.

Voice over actors who provide voices for animated, or cartoon, characters are usually capable of many unique characters. They can't simply be rehashed voices that have been heard many times before, but rather fresh and interesting. These kinds of voice over jobs may be for animated films, television shows or video games. Animated voice over actors must have talent in using different tones, volumes and modulations, or rises and falls in pitch.

Television and radio commercials are popular types of voice over jobs, although they may be competitive for actors to get. Casting directors for commercials are looking for a selling type of voice, not merely a fresh or interesting one. They prefer experienced actors since it's necessary to create a character when doing commercials, much like what a television show requires from on-camera actors, yet much shorter in length.

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Discussion Comments
By Sporkasia — On Sep 04, 2014

A good voice can improve almost anything. I have been known to watch and listen to a sporting event on television simply because I liked the voice of the announcer who was calling the game. With audio books, when I don't like the voice over narration I put the recording away before I ever get to the end.

And I think the mentioning of James Earl Jones in this article is appropriate since he has one of the most entertaining and recognizable voices of all time.

By Feryll — On Sep 04, 2014

You are right, @Animandel, about big movie and TV actors not doing TV commercials. I think this is seen a bit like lawyers who do those TV ads where they are asking for customers. It just doesn't have the look of success.

While I agree that more well-known actors are doing TV commercials than they once did, I think this is still seen as a negative thing to do by a lot of people in the movie business. That's why many actors only do commercials in foreign countries. They can make fortunes doing commercials in other countries, and since the commercials are not seen in the U.S. their movie careers are not affected.

By the way, I think voice over work for famous actors on TV commercials is less frowned upon than when the actors actually appear in the commercials.

By Animandel — On Sep 03, 2014

Sometimes I can be watching a TV commercial and then the voice guy starts to talk and the voice is so distinctive that I find myself asking who is that. This happens more now than it used to because more and more famous actors are doing voice over work for TV commercials. A-list actors doing commercials was at one time seen as a bad move for the actors careers in the United States, but now I guess that has changed.

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