Musicians and singers face extremely strong competition for jobs. On top of that, education budget cuts from elementary schools to PhD programs often hit music departments the hardest. Music education majors should plan on having a backup career choice, and maybe even earn a double major or a minor in another field to ensure their career prospects will be solid upon graduation. Most musicians have day jobs, since few musicians and singers can support themselves on performance alone.
Many musicians and singers choose to supplement their income by becoming music teachers. For those who want to teach music in public elementary or secondary schools a degree in music will qualify graduates for a state certificate to teach. Elementary and secondary school teachers earn a median salary of $47,000 to $52,000.
For those who want to become college music instructors, a master’s degree in music will likely be required. College-level music instructors earn a median salary of $59,000. Another option for music graduates is to offer private lessons at local music stores, through local Parks and Recreation, or even online.
Some music majors choose to diversify their studies to become recreational therapists. Recreational therapists use music, games, dance, and arts and crafts to improve the well-being of their patients. The median annual salary of recreational therapists is $38,000.
Musicians and Singers
For those who want to pursue careers in popular musical performance, it’s best to look for jobs in cities where recording studios and the entertainment industry are concentrated. Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Nashville, and Chicago are the best places to find work in the music industry. Musicians and singers may also find salaried work with performing art companies, religious organizations, or in the US Armed Forces. Full-time musicians earn a median wage of $21.00 an hour.
Most musicians work part-time and are self-employed. The hours are typically evenings and weekends. Since the competition for long-term jobs is high, few popular performing musicians and singers have guaranteed full-time, long-term employment. For students of music education, performance is probably best left a supplement to a music teaching or other career.
The following are other music-related professions music education students may be interested in pursuing:
- Acoustical Engineer
- Arts Council Director
- Band Director
- Church Music Director
- City Cultural Events Planner
- Electronic Music Technician
- Film Scorer
- Fundraising Director
- Instrument Salesperson
- Instrument Repairman
- Music Director
- Music Retailer
- Music Software Programmer
- Piano Technician/Tuner
In 2008, musicians, composers, singers, and other music-related employees held 240,000 jobs. It’s worth thinking of the many professions related to music and music teaching when facing graduation from a music education program. Music students of any kind should make backup career plans in related fields to support themselves financially in the event their primary plans need to be propped up or just don’t pan out.
Elaine Hirsch is a jack-of-all-interests, from education and history to medicine and videogames. She is currently working as a writer for various education-related websites and writing about relevant education-related issues.