Tobias Entertainment Group

Marice Tobias


Point of View

Thoughts, Musings, Observations

March 14, 2014

The Trade School Syndrome

It’s a mind set that says there is a specific amount of steps, courses, workshops, or money — as well as any other training option out there — that, at the completion of the program, a certificate is awarded and participants are now certified as professional and ready to compete with players who’ve been at it for a while.

The problem is, and I find myself saying this more and more every day:

“The Industry didn’t go to that meeting.”

Most resources for training, building and reinforcing craft and career, are set up on the trade school model, i.e. businesses that sell and market training as their end game. Even the ones who help get graduates get jobs cannot guarantee employment. Of course, you do have a better chance at getting a job if you actually understand the business you are pursuing but in the case of voiceover, that could easily inhibit enrollment.

Moving out into the work sector is a whole ‘nuther conversation and one that totally doesn’t fit any specific model.

But often, it’s sold as if it does.

So, I often hear:

“How many classes (we don’t offer classes) or how much money (we don’t have a set amount) before I can record a demo (when you are ready to compete) and start getting work and making money?” (No crystal ball for that one either).


“I’ve taken the courses, produced the demos, and put up a website. Where the bleep is my career?”


“I’ve invested X amount of dollars and time and have to start earning it back and then some, so I can redo the demo I don’t like, but am going to send out anyway to try and make back some of what I spent on it.”


“I am making a good living but cannot get an agent or a manager, especially in a bigger city.”

Or, or, or.

Again, the Industry did not go to any of those meetings.

This is not a trade or even a profession where a certain amount of training, investment or desire will net any sort of return, whatsoever.

It is … is a gamble. You are betting on Yourself with one chip, and the House has stacked the odds in its favor with an endless supply of chips.

Even when you are a smart, savvy, sensational player; there is no guarantee when, or if, this will pay off.

Talent and desire increase your odds. But without awareness of the ever-changing factors that influence a rise up the ladder, or a backslide just when you thought you were getting somewhere, you will languish in resentment and frustration.

It’s your job to learn and know because the trade school will not tell you it can take years to get somewhere. About being replaced for reasons unknown to you. What it’s like to be in a session with a director who has no idea what they want and keeps blaming you. Hearing the read that was chosen and knowing that wasn’t in the original specs.

This and so much more are the absolutely reality of the day to day, every day.

A statistic that a client developed via research with unions and other respected resources said that in 2009, there were 1.3 million people pursuing voiceover in the U.S. alone … every day. That was 2009.

Since then, the genre had gotten more exposure and therefore more aspirants than ever before.

Have I sufficiently depressed you? That’s my job.

Because if and when you come to terms with this, then and only then are you ready for the long haul. Then and only then are you sufficiently sobered to the absolute reality of the game you’re playing or wanting to play.

If it happens sooner, I am the first one to get out the poms-poms and cheer!

In the meantime, it’s drills and development to get to the pro ranks and even more so now … to stay there and keep rising to higher and higher levels of accomplishment and success.