One of the biggest decisions you may have to make when starting a career in voice over is whether or not to join a union. Just like electricians or plumbers or a number of other professions, many voice actors are represented by a union that has promised to advocate for them and provide them with a few perks that their non-union counterparts aren’t offered. However, there can be some downsides to belonging to a union, so let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
There are some distinct advantages in joining a voice acting union. One of the biggest ones is pay, which is often higher with union work. As a union member, you’ll also qualify for health insurance and pension plans, as well as residual pay on projects. Union projects tend to be better quality, too, which is great for morale and professional satisfaction. Union agents also usually take a smaller cut than those working with non-union actors, so that’s more money in your pocket. Finally, there is a sense of solidarity among union workers, which can translate into greater job satisfaction.
In spite of the benefits listed above, there are a couple of downsides that come with committing to a union. For starters, the level of competition is greater. If you’re a beginner, this can be tough as you’ll be up against seasoned actors who know the business and knows what it takes to succeed. There are also yearly dues to pay, and many companies are simply more interested in hiring non-union talent because it’s cheaper for them. When you join a union, you can also forget about having a home studio or doing side jobs. Doing non-union jobs while you’re in a union is a huge no-no, and it can come back to bite you later on.
Clearly, the choice of joining a union or not is a tough one. Before you decide, carefully weigh your options and evaluate the pros and cons to see what will really pay off in the end for you.