Music Careers

Music Careers

A complete list of career opportunities related to music would be impossible to compile. Below are some obvious and not-so-obvious jobs that music majors have taken (and, in some situations, created) in their chosen field.

Music Teaching in Elementary and Secondary Schools -- Clearly, the largest number of full-time music teaching positions exists in public and private schools.
In preschools, kindergartens, elementary schools, and day-care centers, the music teacher provides guidance for activities such as singing, listening, playing instruments, moving and dancing, composing, and experimenting with music patterns.

Teachers, supervisors, or directors of music in middle, junior high, and senior high schools provide direction for choral and instrumental organizations, small ensembles, and musical theater productions.

Music Teaching in Post-Secondary Schools -- Music teachers at institutions of higher education usually are expected to specialize in one or two areas, such as music theory, music history and literature, music education, musicology, performance, electronic music, composition, conducting, or music therapy.

In many cases, college faculties are recruited from people who have had successful professional careers as performers or as music teachers. A college music educator, however, usually must have earned at least a master's degree in music.

Music Therapist -- With increased awareness of the rights of children and adults with disabilities, the importance of trained music therapists has increased. These highly- skilled individuals combine music, teaching, and therapy to help persons with disabilities improve their physical and mental health. Emotional stability and insight are essential for competent therapists.

Performance -- To many young people, music performance as a career means giving concerts. The glamour of becoming a concert artist attracts many people, but opportunities for a career in music performance are very limited, and great perseverance and stamina are required for success. In addition to solo performance careers, there are performance opportunities in chamber music, folk, rock, and pop music, as well as free-lance concert and studio opportunities. Performance careers differ widely and depend a great deal upon the instrument played and the performance medium.

Church Musician -- A career as a church music director or organist combines music performance and teaching. Most musicians for religious institutions are employed part-time, although large congregations may employ a full-time music director or minister of music. In addition to being competent performers, church or temple musicians must understand music composition, transposition, and arranging, and must be familiar with the theology and liturgy of worship.

Composer and Conductor -- Very few composers make a living from composing, but the nonmonetary rewards for writing classical or popular music are great. Some composers earn a living arranging music for school performance groups or writing music for radio or television advertising. Successful composers receive commissions to write for specific occasions, ensembles, soloists, or institutions.

Music Industry -- The music industry is broad in scope and encompasses retail, wholesale, manufacturing, importing, exporting, publishing, recording, repair and rebuilding, tuning, and other businesses. Persons who are successful in the music industry have education and training in both music and business.

Television/Radio Industry -- The television and radio industries encompass a wide range of careers, including composition, scoring, production, editing, clearing copyrights, and licensing. Career opportunities are available at television and radio stations, production houses, postproduction facilities, and a host of related organizations involved in producing and distributing programming for television and radio.

Music Librarian -- Colleges and public libraries offer opportunities for trained music specialists with knowledge of library and research techniques. Music librarians are involved in research and reference, indexing, cataloging, selecting materials for purchase, and community relations. Skills in handling computerized information are increasingly important.

Other Careers -- In addition to the careers in music mentioned above, some opportunities exist for musicologists, music business attorneys, architectural acoustic consultants, and arts administrators. In the publishing industry, most large newspapers and magazines and many smaller periodicals hire a music reporter or critic who combines knowledge and enjoyment of music with a writing or editing career. Other careers include music historian, biographer, and lyricist.

For more information, visit: or contact the
LaGrange College Career Center at (706) 880-8177.