“I want to be an actor!”
If someone says that to you, you’d probably imagine them reciting Shakespeare on a stage, blasting supervillains on the big screen, or telling jokes on a sitcom.
But with increasing frequency, acting involves never being seen at all.
As animated movies and tv shows become more prominent, and as overdubbed foreign media is increasingly sought out, there’s a greater need for quality actors who perform with only their voices.
To be sure, voice acting has always been an important profession. Voice actors record narration for television ads, read copy on the radio, and provide their talents for audiobooks.
But as any of those professionals will tell you, the good voice acting isn’t just a case of reading the words on the page.
No school in the U.S. offers a degree in voice acting, and those who want to enter the field may consider pursuing a bachelor’s in acting.
That said, an increasing number of schools in the country do offer certificates and minors in voice-over work.
Each of the programs listed below will prepare future voice actors with all of the skills and knowledge they’ll need to enter the field. They’ll study everything from physical control of the tongue and jaw to the specifics of recording and editing.
Here are several of the best colleges for voice acting.
Temple University (Philadelphia, PA)
An extension of the Department of Theater, the Certificate in Voice and Speech offered by Temple University allows acting students to expand their knowledge and training.
The certificate is designed for students who have a passion for acting but are not part of the Theater program. With a four-course sequence consisting of 12 credit hours, the Certificate in Voice and Speech prepares students to pursue a career as a voice actor.
The technique at the center of the certificate program is the famous Fitzmaurice Voicework method.
Combining classical note training with contemporary techniques, the Fitzmaurice Voicework method takes the best of traditional and conservatory philosophies used in theaters around the globe.
With this method, students will improve their presence behind the microphone through sight-reading and proper diction.
In addition, students will learn everything that they need to launch into a career as a voice actor. This knowledge includes everything from physical training to strengthening one’s tongue and jaw and proper breathing techniques, as well as technical skills.
These abilities will also prepare students for careers in acting on the screen and stage.
Although designed for students outside of the theater program, students pursuing a Certificate in Voice and Speech can take advantage of all the resources offered by the department.
In addition to the school’s state-of-the-art main stage, students have access to the Joe First Media Center, with all of the recording and production equipment they’ll use later in their careers.
With these materials, students can create an impressive demo reel to show potential casting directors and agents.
Likewise, students will study under Temple’s best acting teachers. Faculty members include Sarah Doherty, an instructor with twelve years of experience. Doherty has performed in companies around Philadelphia, including Pig Iron, Theater Catalyst, and People’s Light & Theater.
As these examples demonstrate, the voice acting certificate allows students to pursue their passion and career without needing to major in theater.
Columbia College Chicago (Chicago, IL)
If you’re hoping to become a performer in animated features, a reader of audiobooks, or a narrator in a television commercial, then the voiceover minor at Columbia College Chicago is the best choice for you.
Part of the school’s communication program, the voiceover minor equips students with all of the knowledge and skills they’ll need to be successful voiceover artists.
Regardless of the medium in which students want to use their voice, Columbia can help. They’ll learn how to annotate copy for excellent vocal performance, how to alter their acting for different formats, and much more.
Required courses include classes in radio production, demo creation, and voiceover basics. These classes cover the fundamentals of the trade, teaching students to think about the relationship between their voices and the work they’re creating.
In addition, students can choose from advanced courses to sharpen their skills. In the advanced voice and articulation class, students improve their pronunciation and grammar abilities to improve their diction, making for clearer messages.
The voice for non-theater majors class teaches students the secrets of breathing, resonation, and projection.
Where most of the programs on this list draw from performance faculty, students pursuing a voice acting minor work with experts in the field of communications.
Teachers include veteran actor Deb Doetzer, who has lent her voice to advertisements for companies such as State Farm, McDonald’s, Samsung, and more.
Additionally, Doetzer has extensive experience working in the video game industry, providing voices for games such as Injustice: Gods Among Us, Red Faction, and Watch Dogs.
Adjunct instructor Marssie Mencotti is one of the architects of Columbia’s voiceover minor.
She brings to her teaching the lessons she learned in radio marketing and while performing in ad campaigns for Nintendo, Wrigley’s Eclipse Gum, and Icehouse Beer.
With the support of these talented teachers, the voiceover minor at Columbia College Chicago is well-poised to train the next generation of voiceover experts.
Pace University (New York, NY)
While voice acting has long been considered a reputable career choice for an actor, schools have been slow in integrating training programs for students. Well, most schools.
New York’s Pace School of Performing Arts is the first in the nation to offer an undergraduate major that integrates voice acting.
Rather than separate voice acting from the rest of the program, the school’s BFA in Film, Television, Voice-overs, and Commercials takes a conservatory approach that you’d find in traditional acting schools.
Students do learn the art of physical preparation and commercial acting, as well as intensive classes in vocal production and voice-over technique.
At the end of the program, students create a senior showcase that doubles as a demo reel that they can show to industry professionals.
But be assured, that won’t be the first time that students interact with industry professionals. The faculty at Pace University consists of working professionals who have ample experience in the acting business.
One such instructor is Lester Thomas Shane. In addition to an impressive live-action career that included leading roles in the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Shane has served as a speech and dialect coach for production companies and studios such as NBC, HBO, and the Lincoln Center.
Furthermore, Shane has directed numerous productions across the country, in everything from Shakespeare at the Met in Jacksonville, Florida to the Manhattan Theatre Club.
Adjunct instructor Anthony Akin brings his experience on stage and screen to help students learn how to embody an entire character with their voices.
Akin’s credits span the New York theater scene, including performances at the Night Kitchen Theatre and the O’Neill Theater Conference.
On the screen, Akin has appeared in tv shows such as The Americans and The Good Wife, as well as films such as Two Family House and Sparrows Dance.
With support from teachers such as these, Pace University’s unique program gives students everything they need to enter a career as a voice actor.
Wichita State University (Wichita, KS)
When one thinks about places to find top-notch schools with innovative programs in voice acting, major entertainment cities such as New York and Los Angeles spring to mind. But a wise student would do well to look at Kansas, where they’ll find an excellent program at Wichita State University.
Based in their School of Performing Arts, Wichita State’s undergraduate certificate in voice acting brings together all of the resources of their main acting program.
As such, the program involves many of the faculty and classes from the Theatre BA program.
Students will work with faculty members such as Amy Baker Schwiethale, who performed on the First National Broadway Tour of 42nd Street and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
Students will have the opportunity to participate in productions ranging from classics such as Shakespeare’s Love’s Labor’s Lost and new creations such as Go Like Saints by Skye Robinson Hillis.
They will be supported by full production staff and get the opportunity to perform on one of the largest stages in the state.
But for future voice actors, the real attraction is the voice acting certificate. In addition to theater classes, students pursuing a voice acting certificate take courses to help them develop their vocal skills.
Basic courses include “Improving Voice and Diction,” a performance-oriented class that increases understanding of the vocal mechanism and mastery of the International Phonetic Alphabet.
Advanced courses include “Voice Acting,” which covers everything from business best practices to microphone setup. Students also take a class in audio production, which gives them hands-on experience with state-of-the-art recording and mixing equipment.
As you might expect, a program such as this is in high demand. To apply students must audition, as one does for admission to most acting degree programs.
However, once accepted, students can join the long list of alumni who have gone on to satisfying careers in acting – on the stage, on the screen, and of course, behind the microphone.