What Education Do I Need to Become a Singer?
Learn more about a singer career. Find out what kind of education you need to become a singer, including private lessons, undergraduate programs, or graduate degrees.
Singer Career Important Facts
|Prerequisites||High school diploma or equivalent|
|Online Availability||Full programs available|
|Possible Careers||Recording/touring artist, freelance performer, vocal coach, music producer, voiceover artist, backup vocalist|
|Certification||Vocal coach certification available|
|Median Salary (2019)||$43,487 (for all musicians and singers)*|
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||0% growth (for all musicians and singers)**|
Sources: *PayScale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Start Singing
Lots of people think that they can sing, but to become a professional singer, you need a combination of talent, drive, and education. Singers use their knowledge of music and harmony to interpret and perform songs in a variety of genres. A singer also understands that the voice is an instrument, as much as a guitar, saxophone, or keyboard.
Private Singing Lessons
Singers typically begin training with a private tutor when they reach vocal maturity. In this training, you learn your vocal range, such as soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, or bass. You may sing in a particular musical style, although some singers are versatile enough to sing in more than one genre. You learn how to read sheet music, including how to sight read, which gives you the ability to sing the right notes by looking at the sheet music only, without musical accompaniment. You're also taught a variety of voice exercises that loosen and strengthen your vocal cords.
How to Become a Singer
Once a person determines that they have the talent, training, and desire to pursue this profession, there are a few steps they can take toward a career as a singer, including enrolling in singing degrees or training programs.
Undergraduate Studies in Voice
Many colleges and universities offer majors in vocal performance, vocal study, and opera as part of a Bachelor of Music degree. Auditions, either in person or by submission of recorded material, are generally required. Some schools assign audition materials within certain parameters. In some cases, you'll need to arrange for your own accompaniment.
Your voice performance curriculum will include technical training that focuses on developing your skills and stage presence for public performances. Common classes include English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian diction; vocal pedagogy; repertoire; and language. You may also take workshops or recital and ensemble courses, and you may have the chance to take master classes with working professional singers. You could also participate in recitals and other choral or ensemble performances, some of which may be required and evaluated as part of your degree requirements.
If you'd like to continue your formal vocal training and music education, you could earn a Master of Music in Vocal Performance and Doctor of Musical Arts in Voice Performance and Pedagogy or similar degrees. These programs typically include some required classes that build on concepts and skills learned in an undergraduate voice program and opportunities for vocal training and performance. A final paper or recital may be required for graduation.
Even if you do not move on to a graduate program, many professional singers continue to develop their voice through private instruction. Vocal coaches can help you to prepare for auditions, practice set pieces for recital or show, and also keep you from developing bad habits.
How to Become a Famous Singer
Becoming a famous singer will require getting signed by a record label, producing albums that sell successfully, going on concert tours, and maintaining a social media presence. Most musicians, however, can only work part time in the music industry and often seek out supplementary or even full-time work in other industries to support themselves financially.