What Are My Career Options in Music?

Explore some of the job options in the music industry, such as musician, singer and teacher. Get information about the duties and requirements for each position. Check out the salary potential and employment outlook for music-related careers. Schools offering Ethnomusicology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Working in Music

Having a love of music, drive and dedication are key elements to working in the music industry. You can select from a number of career options, such as musician, singer, music teacher or radio announcer. Read on to learn more about these career options.

Important Facts About Careers in Music

Required Education Varies between high school/GED to undergraduate programs, depending on the career
Potential Key Skills Ability to read music, play an instrument, record music
Work Environment Studio, audition rooms
Similar Occupations Talent scout, concert promoter, music journalist, sound/recording engineer

Musician or Singer

As a musician, you can play in bands, for orchestras, independently, for movies and television, commercials - you name it. Typically, to play for such venues, with the exception of playing solo, you'll have to audition. You could write your own music or play music composed for you. You'll more than likely need studio time, especially if you are in a band. You can also expect to play for live audiences. Depending on your range and talent, you may play only one instrument or a number of different ones. If you are part of a band, orchestra or play solo, you'll have to hit the road to partake in interviews and promotions to get your music out there.

Like musicians, singers can work in movies or television, front a band or work solo. Auditions are usually also a necessity when you are trying to find a gig. Like a musician, you can either write your own songs or sing songs written for you.


Becoming a musician requires talent, time, patience and practice. You could study music on your own, in college or through hands-on experience. Dedication is key to your craft, and playing an instrument that you love will help you hone your craft. Being a singer is very similar in this regard. Talent and practice, learning your voice range and singing songs you enjoy will help you achieve your goals. You can invest in singing lessons, work with an agent or manager and book studio time to make recordings.

Job Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that musicians and singers will be needed as more people demand performances. Employment growth is predicted to be three percent from 2014-2024; this is slower than average. In addition, musicians and singers can expect competition and possibly unemployment at times. They earned an average hourly wage of $33.62 as of May 2015, and the BLS notes that most earned between $9.20 and $68.98 an hour.

Music Teacher

You could work as a teacher in any school setting in which music is taught. A music teacher has the same basic teaching duties as a teacher in any other subject. Working in a classroom setting or one-on-one with students, you evaluate and grade students on their progress in the classroom. You design lessons and exercises, work with other teachers in the same department and prepare students for careers in the music industry. You may work with your school's choir or singing groups and serve as a consultant to students.

At the college level, you may work on your school's committees and deliver lectures. You'll help students hone their craft, and classes you might teach involve facets of music such as its history and technique.


According to the BLS, to be a public-school teacher at the elementary, middle school or high school levels, you need at least a bachelor's degree in the field and a state license. To teach in a community college, a master's degree will usually suffice. To teach at four-year universities and in graduate programs, you'll need your Ph.D.

Job Outlook and Salary

From 2014-2024, the BLS expects job growth to be average for elementary, middle and high school teachers and faster than average for postsecondary teachers. Music educators earned an average salary of $44,000 as of January 2016, according to PayScale.com. The BLS reported that postsecondary art, drama and music teachers earned an average wage of $76,710 in May 2015.

Radio Announcer

Radio announcers are also known as DJs. In this career, you would play a set list of songs for a radio station, depending on the music format. You might also give news breaks and read commercials. You'd have to keep a log of your show, including which songs you played and which commercials you aired. You might also interview local and well-known bands and musicians for your show, especially if they are playing in your area. You'll take phone calls from your listeners regarding contests, promotions and music requests. You may also need to represent you radio station in person at local events.


Much of the equipment you'll use will be computerized, and knowledge of websites may be helpful to you, since some radio announcers must also keep the station's website updated. According to the BLS, formal education is often very helpful for those working in the radio industry; a DJ might have earned a bachelor's degree in communications. You may be able to obtain an internship at a local station or at your school's radio station. You'll probably want to gain experience early on, network and get your foot in the door, even if it's at a small station, since any experience can be valuable.

Job Outlook and Salary

The BLS expects there to be a 14% decline in jobs for radio and TV announcers over the 2014-2024 decade. However, jobs will become available as others leave the occupation. You may also have to move to another city to find employment. In May 2015, radio and TV announcers earned $46,410 on average. Most made between $18,000 and $86,780.

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