Is there a voice over day rate?

There are two types of voice-over work: union and non-union. And remuneration differs between them.

1. For voice over union jobs, a base rate is pre-determined. However, it is common for many professionals to charge more than the base rate. Union rates are based upon many variables, such as:

  • market coverage - different rates apply for local, regional, and national coverage
  • duration - the longer the recording is used, the greater the compensation should be. For example, once a commercial airs for over 13 weeks, the voice over artist will receive another payment.

To find updated base rate pay, look at the unions’ website: AFTRA ( and SAG ( two unions recently joined creating one union, SAG-AFTRA, however their new website ( isn’t up to date as of yet with information about rates.

2. Rates for non-union jobs are negotiated between the voice-over artist and the client. Sometimes you are told what the budget has in store for you, and it is up to you to accept, decline, or negotiate. Other times a client will ask your voice over rate, and it up to them to accept, decline, or negotiate.

With most non-union jobs, you are paid the one agreed upon fee, and nothing more. There are no residuals. This is called a "buy-out". Even if a voice over commercial airs longer than you were told, or if a small video becomes a national documentary, there are no additional payments paid to you. You generally sign a "talent release" agreeing to the above conditions.

Typically you bill by giving your client an invoice stating your name, address, social security number, business ID number (if you have one), and job information (such as the name of your client, name of the job, date of the job, and what the buy-out amount is).

Determining a non-union rate is based upon factors:

  • Commercial payment is based on the size of the advertiser, how long the spot will air, and if it will air in one local market or in many major markets. A local cable TV spot may pay as little as $50, while a spot for AT&T airing on network TV may pay $1,000.
  • Narrations usually pay by the hour. Rates are based upon the company’s budget, length of job, who will hear it (in-house or general public), the purpose of the recording (in-company training program or soundtrack for a major documentary), and your experience level. Non-union voice over artist rates range between $100 per hour to $500 per hour. Typically there is a one-hour minimum and additional hours are billed at quarter hour increments (sometimes at a lower hourly rate).

You may think that when you are new, charging less may help win that first job. However, while demanding very little may seem like a great way to "get the clients again", its not always the best way to go about marketing. For example, demanding a small fee can set a precedent, where asking for higher compensation down the road may not sit well with your clients. Requiring little compensation can also be connoted as having little experience under your belt. And finally, being inexpensive can be construed as being "hard-up" for work.

Asking for a great amount of compensation can signal experience, skill, confidence, and can therefore ease the nervousness of your clients. But asking more than the client’s budget can lose you the job. Plus, demanding big $$$s means you BETTER be worth every penny!

So before giving a quote, do one thing - figure out what your client CAN pay...not how much they WANT to pay. Simply ask them what their budget is, or what they have paid in the past for similar voice over job. Also candidly ask them, "What’s the budget for this job...I’d like to work with you on it." Finally, try and find out how many other voice over artists are being considered...if the answer is "none," its time to beef up your fee a bit.

Most importantly, remember that any work is work. And while you shouldn’t attempt to rip off your client, you should not cheat yourself either.

Other important factors in determining your price:

a. your ability: If you follow direction, show up on time, act professionally, etc., you can charge more.

b. your location: If you live outside a major metropolitan area, voice-over work may pay less.

c. your niche: If you focus on one genre of voice-over (ie: audiobooks, public service announcement, educational/training films, etc., you may be able to charge more since you are a specialist.

d. technical services such as editing, file-naming, project managing, phone patch, ISDN.

We hope this helps.

March 4, 2010
Meta Description: 
Edge Studio explains the two types of voice-over work: union and non-union and also the remuneration differs between them.
Meta Keywords: 
Edge studio, voice over, SAG, AFTRA, rates, union, non-union, remuneration, base rate pay, budget, negotiate, agreed upon fee, buy-out, talent release, billing, invoicing, commercial, narration, documentary, hourly rate, marketing, client, recording duration, market coverage, voiceover rate card, voice over rate card, voice actor rates, voice over rates, voice artist rates,

How to Reach Us

Call us 888-321-3343
Email us

Click for Edge location information...

Meet Your Coaches

Edge Alumni Work Everyday

Get free educational
voice over newsletters!

Get free, educational voice over newsletters

Where should we send them?