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careers in music

Career Opportunities for Majors in Music

There are two distinct programs of study in music after your Associate of Arts Degree from NTCC.. Students can pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree (B.A.) in music through one of the liberal arts colleges. This is a generalist liberal arts major. A Bachelor of Music degree (B.M) is more specialized and is oriented towards professional careers in performance, jazz, or music education. Both degree programs provide a thorough study of music theory and music history. While some performance is also included in the B.A. program, the B.M. program offers much more intensive training in this area.

Some students pursue careers closely related to music, such as performers, educators, songwriters, conductors, arrangers, composers and actors. Others choose careers behind the scenes, or in the business area of music in careers such as producers, engineers, managers, agents, and in publishing and sales. Many careers do not require a specific major but rather a wide range of demonstrated skills and accomplishments. Thus, some graduates pursue careers in fields quite unrelated to music. Regardless of your career choices, increasing your marketability to employers through internships, responsible work experience, good grades and involvement in college activities is important. A bachelor's degree is sufficient for many entry-level positions, but for advancement in an area of specialization, an advanced degree may be required.

A Sample of Related Occupations

Advertising Specialist

Instrument Design/Restoration

Public Relations Specialist

Art Director

Lawyer - Music Industry

Publications Specialist

Artist & Repertoire (A&R) Person



Band Leader


Recording Technician


Music Attorney

Sales/Marketing Representative

Concert Promoter

Music Critic


Copy Writer

Music Publisher

Special Events Coordinator

Copyright Specialist

Music Software Programmer

Studio Musician


Music Teacher

Talent Agent

Disc Jockey

Music Therapist




Technical Writer


Orchestra Librarian

Tour Manager

Film Music Director/Editor


Writer/Music Journalist




Types of Employers

Private and Non-profit Organizations

Advertising Agencies

Law Firms


Armed Forces


Orchestras and Bands

Booking and Talent Agencies

Media Firms

Performing Arts Centers

Colleges and Universities

Music and Film Studios

Production Companies

Elementary and Secondary Schools

Music and Video Stores

Public Relations Firms

Entertainment Companies

Music Companies

Publishing Firms

Industry Trade Papers

Music Industry Associations


Government Agencies

Cultural Affairs

Office of International Education

Department of Education

Peace Corps

National Archives

Smithsonian Institution

National Endowment for the Arts

Travel and Tourism Department

National Endowment for the Humanities

Voice of America


Music Professions - Educational


     A music historian is a person who studies the history of music. This individual may be involved in gathering archives of sheet music or music paraphernalia for a museum. A music historian might give lectures at colleges, other schools, and to other musically inquisitive people. A music historian may also be asked to verify out the accuracy of information from the past, or to dispute or uphold the credibility of other questionable music information from different eras.

     Also possibly involved in this field would be a individual who preserves music artifacts. A Historian may be so knowledgeable in their field that they could write a book, or help aid someone that is, writing one. A music historian can also become certified to be a teacher, and can teach music history to students. Being a music historian involves many different fields and skills.


     A music librarian is responsible for the daily running of a music library. It is his or her job to archive, and catalog books and music collections and recordings. Music librarians are responsible for helping musicians or interested people in locating musical sources. Music librarians ususally have a degree music. Their knowledge of music and history allow them to guide and teach people who are seeking musical information. This career involves detailed knowledge of library science and music.

Music Professor

     This career requires a higher level of education. Ususally professors have achieved at least their Master’s Degree. Depending on the university or college, a professor may be required to have a doctoral degree.

     A music professor can be a general music educator or can specialize in a certain area of music, such as teaching music theory, instrumental or vocal performance, music history, or music arranging. This professor usually teaches specific courses every semester and, in some cases these courses can last a whole year. It is not uncommon for professors to teach more than just one subject.

     Music professors' job are very involved; they do more than just teach. They often help supervise and take part in any number of extra-curricular music programs their colleges or universities have to offer. Since most college professors are required to keep “office hours”, this opportunity allows students to meet with their music professor to discuss any problems they may be having in their music courses. These educators are also available for tutoring and extra instrumental instruction.

     Music professors are experts in the courses that they are teaching, and make a detailed course outlines for their students. It is common for the professor to do additional research and write works that are published, such as journal articles, magazine articles or books. Educators also conduct choirs, orchestras, bands, and found coach chamber music groups . Most of all, they need to love their job, love teaching, and love music. Tenure is usually granted after six years of successful teaching and publishing/performing.

Music Teacher K-12

     Being a music teacher on the elementary and secondary level is a very involved job. Music teachers bring with them a passion for music, and hope to ignite that fire in their students. Depending on what grade level you teach your course requirements will fluctuate.

     At the elementary level, there are ususally two types of music teachers. One who teaches genereal music and one who teaches instrumental music. The role of the general music teacher is to instruct students in basic fundamentals of music, such as counting, note reading, rhythm, singing, and movement. The instrumental music teacher’s role is to teach students how to play various band and orchestral instrument.

     On the secondary level, (middle and high school), music teachers' jobs become more specialized. They might teach a specific class such as band, chorus, orchesta, and music theory, as well as any number of music electives the school has to offer. A secondary music teacher also helps out with extra-curricular activities which may include working with the drama group, show choir, jazz band, marching band, pep band. Music teachers in secondary schools usually make themselves available after the school day has ended, so that if students needs extra help or practice, they can give them the assistance they need.

     Above all, a music teacher must enjoy working with children and teaching. Being a music teacher can be a very rewarding experience. Teachers help to instill and shape the musical education for future generations.


Music Professions - Business


     A copyist is responsible for transcribing music parts into a score. Copyists must have very neat manuscript penmanship. They usually work for publishing companies. A copyist must have excellent instrumental and vocal transposition skills.



     A career as a musical engineer requires a degree in engineering. Musical engineers are required to be expert knowledge in physics, design, aesthetics, and acoustics. Some areas that a music engineer would work are the design of instruments, sound systems, and concert halls. In designing concert halls, the engineer must know the layout of the venue and be able to design the hall so that there are no faulty acoustical properties.


     Being a lawyer is a very involved profession that requires you to have your JD degree,(a degree in law). In Entertainment law, you deal with legal issues concerning the entertainment industry. Your clients are musicians, entertainers, and publishing companies. Entertainment lawyers deal with issues of copyright law and licensing. Additionally, entertainment lawyers have to deal with contractual issues. They must know how to handle problems such as a musicican who breaks contract with a company.


     A lyricist writes song lyrics. Usually, a lyricist teams up with a composer and sets text to the composer's music. A lyricist must possess creativity and understand diction and rhythm.


     A musical merchant sells musical supplies and instruments. This individual should have strong business and people skills in addition to knowledge regarding music. These merchants can be independent business owners or can work for large music chain stores. In addition to selling musical supplies, these merchants can also specialize in instrument repair.


     A musical publisher is responsible for putting musical works into print. These individuals print a variety of music including, individual sheet music, collections of music, and musical scores and books. Usually musical publishing companies are located in major cities and employ many workers.


     A musical reviewer critiques musical works by performing artists and composers. This job involves going to concerts or listening to recordings and reviewing them. Typically, a music reviewer works for television news shows, entertainment magazines, newspapers, or web sites.


Music Professions - Performance


     A composer is a person who writes music. A composer can write music for a publishing company or can freelance. Composers can compose music for a specific person, for a group of people, for a movie, for video games, television jingles, and other mediums.


      A conductor is a person who leads a musical performance. It is his or her responsibility to lead and coordinate musicians in a musical performance or rehearsal. Conductors must have extensive knowledge in all areas of music, as well as an understanding of musical foreign language terms. A conductor communicates the music through hand and arm gestures and motions. Additionally, the conductor also makes eye contact with the musicians. It takes many years of musical study to be a successful conductor.



     A performer spends years refining his or her talent and musical abilities. It is a very difficult way to earn a living. Most professional performers have agents who help them to book jobs. A professional musician can be found providing music for tv shows, commercials, movies, and concerts. It is not uncommon for professional musicians to supplement their income by teaching privately. On occasion, professional musicians have been overheard saying, "Would you like fries with that?"


     A religious performer is commonly referred to as a church/synagogue musician. Religious performers sing songs or play instruments to enhance religious services. In addition to a choir, sometimes there is a person, known as a cantor, who sings songs in a service.


Music Professions - Other


     As an arranger, one must have much knowledge of music and exceptional skills in theory, and instrument transposition. An arranger takes a piece of music and arranges it for various media. Arrangers will take a piece of music and orchestrate it so that a band, orchestra, choir, jazz band, marching band will be able to play it. An arranger can also arrange music on different skill levels, so that the same song can be playable for musicians with beginner skill levels to professional skill levels. It is not unusual for an arranger to also be a composer.

Arts Administrator

     An arts administrator oversees the day to day running of a musical program. This job requires a lot of detail, as you must be involved in all facets of a musical program. Arts administrators are responsible for making sure musicians are where they are supposed to be and are taken care of properly. This individual schedules performers for certain dates and oversees the advertising of the event. The arts administrator makes sure to schedule musical acts that people will enjoy, and provides for the musician's comfort. Arts Administrators try to make a presence in their community and use mediums such as radio and cable television to advertise their performances. To be successful in this field, one should have a background in advertising, communications, good people skills, and a knowledge in the area of music.


     A sound recording engineer is a very demanding profession. This job entails knowledge of music, music equipment, and technology. In this profession, one deals with the day to day operation of a recording studio. Sound recording engineers are responsible for recording many types of musicians: vocalists, instrumentalists, Broadway ensembles, or any number of other artists in the music industry. Schooling for this profession requires a bachelor's degree in sound and recording science and an internship.


     A musical technician is responsible for building and repairing instruments and musical systems. Sometimes technicians have an engineering background. They must have knowledge of musical instruments and they way they work. A technician must have good craftsmanship and have the necessary skills to know why an instrument won't play and how to fix it. Many colleges offer courses in instrument repair.


     Music therapy is the therapeutic use of music. Music therapists use music to aid in the treatment of their client's problems. Some techniques they use in this field are writing songs, active music listening, music improvisation, talking about the meanings and use of lyrics in a song, teaching about music, playing instruments or singing, and discussing music as it relates to imagery. Therapists are employed in schools, hospitals, birthing facilities, psychiatric facilities, or can choose to work in private practice. Therapists work with a variety of populations such as, children, adolescents, adults, and geriatrics. To become a registered or certified music therapist you must have a bachelor's degree in musical therapy and complete a six-month internship.


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This page last updated by A. Daniel on 04/21/2009

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