Music Professor: Career and Salary Facts

Explore a career as a music professor. Get the facts about education requirements, work responsibilities, salary and potential job growth to see if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Teaching & Learning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Music Professor?

Music professors teach a variety of courses to students at colleges, universities and other post-secondary institutions. They may also play an active role in campus life by organizing performances, and supporting music-related activities. At schools with graduate music programs, they serve as thesis mentors for master's degree and Ph.D. candidates. In addition to teaching, they may be expected to continue scholarly research in their area of expertise, or to compose, produce and perform original music. They may also work with other members of the music department to shape the program's curriculum.

The following chart gives you an overview of this career.

Education Required Doctoral degree
Key Skills Written and verbal communication, creative thinking, mentoring skills
Job Growth (2014-2024) 11%* (Postsecondary Art, Drama, and Music Teachers)
Median Salary (2015) $65,340* (Postsecondary Art, Drama, and Music Teachers)

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Job Duties of a Music Professor?

The foremost job duty you might have as a music professor is to teach the theories and principles of music to college-age students. You might find a position working within a university, private art school, technical school or community college. Your teaching duties could include formulating lesson plans, creating assignments, helping students understand musical concepts and grading student work.

Additional job duties might include researching a particular musical subject, organizing concerts for the college community, putting students in touch with professional contacts and staying on top of new developments in the music industry. You could also serve on an administrative committee that handles budget, curriculum and hiring decisions for a music or art department.

What Education Might I Need?

You'll typically need to earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Music in order to work as a music professor. Some colleges might hire you to work as a part-time or temporary music professor if you hold a master's degree in the field or you're a doctoral candidate.

The average doctoral degree program takes about six years to complete. Many Ph.D. programs will allow you to specialize in a particular aspect of the field, like ethnomusicology, music education, music composition, American music or music theory. You'll typically be expected to write and defend a dissertation in order to receive your degree.

How Can I Earn Tenure?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you must typically work at one university for at least seven years before you can be considered for tenure (www.bls.gov). At that time, your teaching record and research projects will be reviewed by the university, which will ultimately decide whether or not to grant you tenure. Once you have tenure, you might be able to conduct exploratory or unconventional research without the fear of unjust termination; you'll also have more financial stability in your profession.

What Salary Could I Expect to Make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for art, drama and music professors are expected to increase by 11% from 2014-2024, faster than the average for all occupations. As of 2014, art, drama and music professors who teach at colleges and universities earned an average of $79,180 a year, while those who teach at junior colleges earned an average of $70,690.

California has the highest number of employed post-secondary professors in art, drama and music, and they earn an average income of $88,090. New York employs nearly as many professionals as California, but the average pay for art, drama and music professors in the Empire State is $109,700.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Aspiring music educators can also find jobs at elementary, middle or high schools. Unlike professors, school music teachers usually only need a bachelor's or master's degree, but they must also hold a license in order to work in public schools. Experienced musicians may also want to pursue performance careers themselves, either as vocalists or instrumentalists. Although no formal degree is technically required for musicians, a bachelor's degree is needed for some jobs, and formal training can often provide a relevant background for professional success.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Strayer University

    Strayer University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Strayer University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Liberty University

    Liberty University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Liberty University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Saint Leo University

    Saint Leo University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Saint Leo University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Northcentral University

    Northcentral University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Northcentral University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Trident University

    Trident University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Trident University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Colorado Christian University

    Colorado Christian University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Colorado Christian University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next »