Musicians play musical instruments, sing or compose music. They often specialize in an instrument or a type of music such as hip hop or rock. Composers write original music. There are also musicians who conduct instrumental music groups and choral directors who lead choirs.

Working Conditions

Musicians often must perform on weekends and at night. Travel is common. Some musicians must work other jobs to help support themselves.


Earnings depend on a performer's professional reputation, place of employment, and the number of hours worked. Popular musicians are paid per concert or show. Musicians for orchestras earn from $21,000 to $95,000 per year. Many musicians supplement their income with earnings from other sources.

Helpful Skills and Subjects to Study

People who are considering careers in music should have musical talent, versatility, creativity, poise, and a good stage presence. Music theory and voice training are helpful courses.

Related Jobs

Music-related occupations include music writers and composers, music teachers and music therapists.

Education & Training

Musicians begin studying an instrument at an early age. They may gain experience playing in a school or community band or orchestra or with a group of friends. They need extensive training to acquire the skill, knowledge, and ability to intrepret music. This training can be obtained through private study, in a college or university music program, in a music conservatory, or through practice with a group.

Job Outlook

Competition for musicians is keen because the glamour and potentially high earnings in the occupation attract many talented individuals.

Sources for Additional Information

National Association of Schools of Music
11250 Roger Bacon Drive, Suite 21
Reston, VA 22091