Individuals who have a music theory degree can be attractive job candidates for a number of different career paths, both in the music industry as well as other fields. Below, we will discuss five different career possibilities that a master's degree program in music theory will prepare you for as well as what those careers entail.
Career Possibilities with a Master's Degree in Music Theory
|Job Title||Median Salary (2016)*||Job Growth (2014-2024)*|
|Kindergarten/Elementary Music Teacher||$55,490 (for all kindergarten and elementary teachers)||6% (for all kindergarten and elementary teachers)|
|Postsecondary Music Teacher||$68,650 (for all postsecondary art, drama, and music teachers)||11% (for all postsecondary art, drama, and music teachers)|
|Musician||$25.14 per hour (for all musicians and singers)||3% (for all musicians and singers)|
|Music Therapist||$46,410 (for all recreational therapists)||9-13% (for all recreational therapists)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Music Theory Master's Degree Career Descriptions
Kindergarten and Elementary Music Teacher
Teaching at the kindergarten or elementary level as a music teacher means that you may be a child's first exposure to music. While these young students may not be ready for advanced music theory lessons, you could begin teaching them the fundamentals of music by listening to songs, playing simple instruments, and introducing basic music theory concepts. To become an elementary level teacher, only a bachelor's degree in elementary education is required to obtain a teaching license though some states do require that all teachers pursue a master's degree. Having a master's degree also could make you eligible for pay increases.
Postsecondary Music Teacher
At the postsecondary level, you may use your master's in music theory to teach courses in music theory and related subjects to students who are pursuing a degree in the field or in a related area. Some of your duties would include developing lesson plans, creating exams, and submitting grade reports for students. Depending on the institution in which you work, you may work on a team of music teachers within a school's music department. To become a postsecondary teacher, having a master's degree in the field in which you're teaching is generally the minimum requirement.
Some individuals who study music may be interested in becoming professional musicians. Especially in the world of classical music, having at least a bachelor's degree in musical performance or music theory is required to join a performing ensemble like an orchestra. With a master's degree in music theory, you may be a more desirable candidate for an open orchestra position, as long as your performance skills are up to par.
Music directors lead musical groups and performance ensembles like choirs, orchestras, and bands. They may direct them during live performances, as well as in-studio recording sessions. Composers are responsible for writing music that musicians and musical groups perform. They may be commissioned by organizations to write pieces or write on their own schedule. Both of these roles require a very high understanding of music theory, which a master's in music theory would help you obtain. Typically, organizations are more interested in hiring candidates who have master's degrees.
A music therapist works with patients who may be suffering from various behavioral or psychological problems and develops treatment plans for them that involve musical therapy. While most musical therapists only have a bachelor's degree in a field like psychology in addition to courses in music, pursuing a master's in music theory may help you be a more effective musical therapist and increase your job prospects.
Master's degrees in music theory can be a wise choose for individuals who want to increase their understanding of music while also increasing their odds of landing a job.