Music Teacher Degree and Certification Program Information

Sep 25, 2019

Earning a music teacher degree involves potential student teaching and/or graduate-level research. Discover what you can expect from a degree in music education, how long it will take to earn this degree, and what the job market is like for music teachers.

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Music Teacher Degree and Certification Overview

Job Title Music teacher or music professor
Degrees Available Bachelor's, master's, and doctoral
Certification Requirements Varies by state
Job Growth Outlook (2018-2028)* 3% for elementary and middle school teachers, 4% for high school teachers, 8% for postsecondary art, drama, and music teachers
Median Annual Salary (May 2018)* $58,230 for elementary school teachers, $58,600 for middle school teachers, $60,320 for high school teachers, $69,960 for postsecondary art, drama, and music teachers

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Music Teacher Education Requirements

If you want to know what degree you need to become a music teacher, you will first need to determine which grade you want to teach. A music teacher degree for an eventual career in public schools is typically available at the bachelor's or master's level. Teaching in a public school also requires a music teacher certification program. To teach community college students, you will need at least a master's degree, but a Ph.D. is often recommended for university faculty positions.

How to Become a Music Teacher: K-12

To become an elementary school teacher, middle school teacher, or high school teacher, you could enroll in a degree program like a Bachelor of Music Education or Bachelor of Music in Music Education. These programs combine teaching pedagogy with a solid foundation in music to help prepare you to introduce music to students of varying ages. You might be able to find different tracks in a music teacher degree, including instruments and choral performance. Music education degrees will include a student teaching component, which gives you a chance to teach students under the supervision of a licensed or certified educator.

In certain states, you need a master's degree to teach specific subjects. For example, a Master of Music Education might suffice for becoming a music teacher. Some programs are designed for those who seek teaching credentials with prior experience in a classroom. You might be able to complete a capstone project or write a thesis to complete your master's degree.

Music Teacher Certification Program Requirements

Each state has different certification or licensing requirements for music teachers in public schools. Most of the time, you need to pass a criminal background check after you finish your degree classes and teacher preparation program, including student teaching sessions. You also need to pass certain standardized tests. For example, to teach music in New Jersey, you would need to pass the Praxis Music: Content Knowledge exam, along with the necessary tests appropriate to your grade level. After passing, you can apply for your credentials to teach in a public school.

How to Become a Music Teacher: College or University

Although a master's degree might be enough to qualify for entry-level jobs as a music teacher at a community college, you should pursue a doctoral degree if you are interested in major university careers. A Ph.D. in Music Education or a Ph.D. in Music with a concentration in Music Education is research-intensive and prepares you for a future as a music teacher at the college level. If you enter a Ph.D. program with an existing master's degree, you could finish your doctorate in two years. Your courses might be distributed among research, music education philosophy, and musical study electives.

Job Outlook and Salary Information for Music Teachers

Career prospects will change depending on the ages of the students you plan to teach. From 2018 to 2028, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 3% rate of growth for elementary and middle school teachers, slower than the national average, while a 4% rise in high school teaching jobs is expected. Meanwhile, an 8% increase in jobs for postsecondary art, drama and music teachers is expected. Openings in public schools at all education levels will largely depend on state and local budget allocations.

The BLS also releases salary information for teachers, and as of May 2018, elementary school teachers earned a median annual salary of $58,230. Middle school teachers brought home $58,600, and high school teachers earned wages of $60,230 during this same time. College and university music teachers had median annual salaries of $69,960 in the same period.

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