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Top 5 Jobs for Musicians

Musicians don’t have to resign themselves to just one certain profession anymore. There are surprising opportunities available for people with musical abilities. Students who want to make music their primary profession have more opportunities than ever to excel in the industry.

Colleges and universities around the country offer four-year degrees designed to give you the chance to pursue a job as a musician, in a variety of fields. However, even though education is expanding, the top jobs for musicians remain rather traditional. According to the U.S. Department of Labor/Bureau of Labor Statistics, you can expect the growth for orchestral musicians to be very slow over the next three years. The availability of digital recordings and other innovations have hurt performance expansion. Yet, there are a number of professions available for music industry enthusiasts, you just need to know where to look. According to the same source, the following jobs are the top sources of income for musicians.

Contract Performer

“Musicians” in this case, mean instrumental performers and vocalists. Almost 40% of the 173,000 jobs in 2014, were classified as “self-employed.” This means that you work as an independent contractor, essentially playing gigs. And, there are plenty of jobs available, either working with a group or individually, as long as you can find them.

However, the sporadic nature of this kind of job means that musicians often “moonlight” their dream while working a traditional day job. This type of musical “career” is very common, but requires a strong determination to perform successfully.

Professional Musician

You also have the option, if your talents permit, to become a professional performer. Essentially, you would be employed as a chamber musician, a popular touring musician, or as a member of an orchestra or symphony organization. Other professional musicians are members of a band, or fulfill some other full-time position as a performer.

Some professional musicians pursue work in a religious setting. Worship leaders and music directors are typically salaried positions that unlike contract performers or professionals, require an undergraduate degree. Using your talents in a religious setting allows you to continue to hone your musical skills, while using your abilities to express your devotion.

The same skills are required for musicians who work for civic organizations. Duties include arranging holiday specials and fund-raising events, writing grants, and generally working to improve music education for students and the community.


Another top job for musicians involves training other students. This profession will require a teaching degree, but there are many perks. In addition to spreading your love of music to others, some state and local jobs include long summer and winter breaks that you can use to fulfill contract engagements or arrange to give private instruction.

Teaching music to others is a very rewarding profession. It allows you to explore new learning techniques while giving students the power to learn self-expression. Private teachers also have scheduling flexibility, allowing them to pursue other interests.

Therapists are also music educators who, rather than training students to play instruments, use music as a healing tool. This is a growing profession as more and more medical studies confirm the benefits of music therapy’s ability to reduce pain, improve brain functions after a serious health problem, and reach special needs children and adults with healthy forms of communication.

Entertainment Industry

There are a number of career opportunities for musicians that are interested in jobs in the entertainment industry. Music producers, sound and recording engineers, and session musicians work in this industry that encompasses television, film, and, recorded and live performances. These jobs usually require a four-year degree and some experience, so if you’re interested in this field, you should consider internships that offer hands-on learning.

In this industry, you’re able to explore composition, arrangements, and other aspects of sound production, depending on your personal interests and talents. Most people who pursue this type of career need to start at the bottom, working as an audio technician until they learn the ropes.


Music journaling, and similar writing jobs, offer musicians a platform that can showcase their knowledge or experience. According to CareersInMusic.com, bloggers, critics, and historians can earn sizable incomes working from home (especially historians). Plus, it’s a great way to share information within the community.

Carving your niche in the music industry requires diligence, but there are great opportunities available for you to express your talent. So if you think that there’s only a few avenues for musicians out there, think again. With the right preparation, you can establish yourself in one of these rewarding musical professions.

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