College Scholarship Search College Search Career Exploration College Admissions Articles Financial Aid and Student Loan Calculators Compare Student Loans
OverviewNature of WorkKnowledge AreasSkills Utilized
Job ActivitiesAbilitiesJob ConditionsWork SatisfactionEducation/Training

Music Directors Career Overview

Direct and conduct instrumental or vocal performances by musical groups, such as orchestras or choirs.

Salary for Music Directors

Select a State

U.S. $26,480
Annual figures are on top. Hourly figures are below in parentheses.
N/A = Information not available

Majors for this Career

Career Outlook for Music Directors

Employment is expected to grow as fast as average. Keen competition for jobs, especially full-time jobs, is expected to continue. Talented individuals who are skilled in multiple instruments and musical styles will have the best job prospects.

Employment change. Employment of musicians, singers, and related workers is expected to grow 8 percent during the 2008–18 decade, as fast as the average for all occupations. Most new wage-and-salary jobs for musicians will arise in religious organizations. Slower than average employment growth is expected for self-employed musicians, who generally perform in nightclubs, concert tours, and other venues. The Internet and other new forms of media may provide independent musicians and singers alternative methods for distributing music.

Job prospects. Growth in demand for musicians will generate a number of job opportunities, and many openings also will arise from the need to replace those who leave the field each year because they are unable to make a living solely as musicians or singers, as well as those who leave for other reasons.

Competition for jobs as musicians, singers, and related workers—especially full-time jobs—is expected to be keen. The vast number of people with the desire to perform will continue to greatly exceed the number of openings. New musicians or singers will have their best chance of landing a job with smaller, community-based performing arts groups or as freelance artists. Instrumentalists should have better opportunities than singers because of a larger pool of work. Talented individuals who are skilled in multiple instruments or musical styles will have the best job prospects. However, talent alone is no guarantee of success: many people start out to become musicians or singers but leave the profession because they find the work difficult, the discipline demanding, and the long periods of intermittent unemployment a hardship.

Employment Overview

Musicians, singers, and related workers held about 240,000 jobs in 2008, of which 186,400 were held by musicians and singers; 53,600 were music directors and composers. Around 43 percent worked part time; 50 percent were self-employed. Many found jobs in cities in which entertainment and recording activities are concentrated, such as New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, and Nashville.

Musicians, singers, and related workers are employed in a variety of settings. Of those who earn a wage or salary, 33 percent were employed by religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations and 12 percent by performing arts companies, such as professional orchestras, small chamber music groups, opera companies, musical theater companies, and ballet troupes. Musicians and singers also perform in nightclubs and restaurants and for weddings and other events. Well-known musicians and groups may perform in concerts, appear on radio and television broadcasts, and make recordings and music videos. The U.S. Armed Forces also offer careers in their bands and smaller musical groups.

Job Zone Description

Job Zone 4 - Preparation needed

Overall Experience
A minimum of two to four years of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an accountant needs four years of college and several years of accounting work to be considered qualified.

Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Job Training
Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Accountants, chefs and head cooks, computer programmers, historians, and police detectives.

These occupations often involve coordinating, supervising, managing, and/or training others.

[Back to Top]

Related Occupations




Art Directors


Costume Attendants


Music Composers and Arrangers


Musicians, Instrumental


Poets, Lyricists and Creative Writers




Talent Directors

Additional Resources for Music Directors Job Seekers

For general information about music and music teacher education and a list of accredited college-level programs, contact:

[Back to Top]