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Music Director Educational Requirements

There are several educational paths that lead to becoming a music director. Keep reading to see how to prepare for this career through a degree program, what you'll learn and what career options a degree qualifies you for.

What Do I Need to Become a Music Director?

Aspiring music directors typically need a bachelor's degree related to music, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). To gain basic instruction, you can enroll in a Bachelor of Arts in Music, a Bachelor of Music or a Bachelor of Music Education program. Additionally, some schools offer concentrations within these majors, such as performance, music theory or composition. Some schools also have additional concentrations such as church music or musical theater. Many programs require you to complete an audition in order to be admitted.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Common Courses Music history, music composition, conducting, applied music, orchestration
Advanced Degree Options Master's and doctoral degrees are available
Potential Work Environments Schools, orchestras, churches
Median Salary (2018) $49,630 (for all music directors and composers
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 6% growth (for all music directors and composers

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

What Courses Will I Take?

Your curriculum will depend on your specific major and concentration. For example, a Bachelor of Music program tends to require more applied music-related coursework than a Bachelor of Arts in Music. However, both programs offer basic courses in composition and performance as well as classes in music history and applied music.

If you decide to get a degree in music education, you can specialize in either instrumental or vocal music, though some programs offer opportunities to do both. You may take some basic music courses, but you also take courses on conducting, orchestration and teaching music. Music education programs often include a period of student teaching. Courses are generally not offered online.

What Continuing Education Options Are Available?

Many schools also offer master's degrees or even doctorates in music or music education. These advanced programs generally require you to have some experience in your field before applying, and some are available in an online format. Advanced degrees are designed for specialization in your concentration. Additionally, if you wish to teach on the university level, you will need to have an advanced degree in music education.

What Can I Do With My Degree?

Music directors lead groups of musicians, such as choirs or instrumental ensembles. You may conduct an orchestra or teach school children how to sing. You may also lead a church choir. As a music director, you will often be in charge of auditioning and choosing group members, selecting music for performance and directing rehearsals.