Careers in Music: Training Requirements and Job Options

Sep 28, 2019

A career in music can involve performing as a musician, being a sound technician who provides the technical expertise to run a sound system, or being a composer who directs groups of musicians performing music.

Essential Information

There are programs in music at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Those with a bachelor's degree in music can study music therapy, performance and music education. Graduates can obtain many different types of entry-level positions in the music industry, depending on their specialization. Master's degrees offer concentrations in music business, composition and performance. Graduates can further their education by getting their Ph.D. in Music. Programs include music technology, theory and composition and music education. Students in these programs are prepared for teaching and scholarly occupations.

Career Sound Engineering Technicians Composers Musicians
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree High school diploma or equivalent; postsecondary education helpful
Other Requirements Voluntary certification available Prior work experience as a musician is typical Extensive musical training and experience
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 2% 1% 0% (little to no change)
Mean Salary (2018)* $63,500 annually $59,790 annually $28.15 per hour

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Students who purse music degrees have a wide variety of career options after graduation. These include a career as a musician, sound engineering technician or composer. Below are overviews and detailed descriptions of three possible career choices for music majors.

Sound Engineering Technicians

Sound technicians are trained to set up and maintain electrical equipment for television and radio broadcasts, sound recordings and even movies. These technicians typically spend a majority of their time indoors in television, radio or movie studios. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), sound engineering technicians averaged $63,500 annually as of May 2018. Employment opportunities for this career from 2028-2018 are expected to grow by 2%, which is slower than the national average for all career fields.


Music composers lead orchestras and music groups during recording sessions and live performances. They also learn musical theory and write their own music, which range in style. Through practice and rehearsing, composers prepare musical groups for live performances. Those who want to become a composer need at least their bachelor's degree. Applicants for these programs must submit audition tapes and audition in person. The BLS reports that as of May 2018, composers averaged $59,790 annually. The number of job openings for composers from 2018-2028 is expected to grow 1%.


Musicians perform live in front of an audience, and use their creative skills to compose music. They can also audition for orchestras, bands, choruses and other musical groups. To perform at venues, musicians sometimes have to travel great distances. In order to become one of these artists, students must have a high school diploma or equivalent, along with extensive musical training and experience. Between 2018 and 2028, employment opportunities for musicians and singers are expected to experience little to no growth, according to the BLS. As of May 2018, musicians averaged $28.15 per hour.

Musicians do not require any post-secondary education, but must have musical training, skills and experience. Sound technicians and composers, meanwhile, need a bachelor's degree in their field to prepare for their career. Graduate level degrees are available for those interested in teaching.

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