Professional Singer Career Information

Find out how you can become a professional singer. Read on to discover how you can earn money through this career and what is expected of those who make a living by singing. Schools offering Ethnomusicology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At A Glance

Many singers enter the profession through passion or dedication and may not be focused on the wage that they can earn, but rather on doing something they love. Professional singing requires delivering vocal performances to a range of audiences, which can be tiring but could also provide a lot of satisfaction. Take a look at the chart below to find out more about this unique career.

Skills Required Musical talent, dedication, discipline, interpersonal skills, physical stamina
Job Growth (2016-2026) 6% (for all musicians and singers)*
Median Pay (2017) $26.96 per hour (for all musicians and singers)*

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

How Can I Become A Professional Singer?

There are a range of undergraduate and master's courses available in this field, so it is not uncommon for professional singers, particularly those working in classical music, to hold a bachelor's or master's degree. However, becoming a professional singer does not require a formal post-secondary qualification; it is more dependent on training and improving your musical talent so that you can be considered at a professional level. Some professional singers hire an agent or simply use their dedication and discipline, applying to numerous auditions to showcase their musical talent and finding paid singing work.

What Will I Be Expected To Do?

Most professional singers perform live for an audience or recording. They need to rehearse and prepare for each performance and may need to travel to different locations depending on the work they are doing. Some singers specialize in a musical area, such as jazz or opera. If you are pursuing a professional singing career alone, you may have to find and book venues to perform in, as well as promote and market yourself. Some singers become backing singers or even move into songwriting.

Where Will I Work?

Work environments and schedules can vary greatly depending on the individual singer. You may spend time in recording studios, concert halls, arenas or nightclubs. You may travel frequently as cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago have a higher concentration of musical opportunities than other parts of the U.S., so you may find yourself traveling to these cities to perform. International travel may also be required of some singers, and an intermittent work schedule should be expected.

How Much Will I Earn?

The BLS reported the 2017 median hourly pay for professional singers and musicians at $26.96. Those in the lowest 10% of earners in this field made less than $9.70 an hour, whereas those in the highest 10% earned more than $69.81. As many professional singers have to constantly look for work, it is not uncommon for them to find a stable full-time job and pursue singing as a part-time career.

How Else Can I Earn Money By Singing?

Not all singers work in performing arts or perform live to earn money. Those with a background in music may give private voice lessons to children and adults as another way to earn an income. If you have a bachelor's degree, you can also consider gaining a teaching license in order to teach music in public and private schools.

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