Music is one of the most universal of all art forms. Every culture throughout history has had some form of music. Today, there are countless type and subgenres, from experimental sounds made with electronic equipment to classical symphonies creating timeless melodies. From bouncing hip hop to swaying honky tonk, music is everywhere. Not matter what you prefer, we can all agree that music simply makes life better. The value of music is reflected in the pay scale for many music industry jobs.
If you are passionate about music in any way, you may be seeking one of the highest paying music jobs. These careers offer the chance to earn a strong income and work in a stable job field. But most of all, they let you live your passion of music every single day.
One of these music careers, supported by an education in music, could be the perfect choice for you!
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What Majors are Relevant to the Music Industry?
If you’re looking to land one of the highest paying music jobs, or simply want music to be a part of your lifelong career, there are many degrees and certificates that can help you achieve these goals. Some will tie directly to the music industry that keeps churning out sounds for radio stations and concerts all across the country. Others simply help you work with instruments, musical students, or musical technology.
In general, you will find that educations relating to music come in three general types:
• Learning to play music
• Learning about the music industry (Selling, legal issues, etc.)
• Learning to teach others to play music
Learning to play music, of course, is broad and diverse. You can learn to play a specific instrument, such as the guitar, piano, violin, or saxophone. You could also learn to play a specific type of music, such as jazz or classical concert music.
Then there is the business of music. From making decisions about what songs to record, to deciding the best way to release albums and singles, there are many business decisions in the music industry. These financial and operational decisions need educated, experienced professionals to help make the music industry as profitable as possible.
Teaching is also an important part of the music industry and music in general. Future generations will desire music just as much as past generations, and teachers will be needed to teach people young and old. Some teachers will work in formal education, such as high school music teachers, while others may work privately, giving lessons to new learners or experienced musicians alike.
Best Entry Level Music Industry Jobs
Some of the highest paying music jobs require advanced degrees like a master’s or even a doctorate; others require years of experience in the industry. But these music careers require only a bachelor’s degree and no experience, making them excellent choices for people who want to join this exciting field.
High School Music Teacher
Median Salary: $61,660
Training or Experience: None
Expected Growth: 4%
WBy helping musically-gifted high school students, as well as those who simply want to learn a rewarding art form, high school music teachers can shape the future of the music industry. This may not be considered one of the “music industry jobs” on its face, but there is little doubt that these professionals contribute to the music industry by planning lessons, instructing students, and grading effort and performance in music. This career is expected to grow by 4%, which is right along with the rest of the job market. The top 10% can earn salaries over $99,660, making this one of the top-paying jobs in the music industry.
Popular Pick: from Southern Utah University
Public Relations Specialist
Median Salary: $61,150
Training or Experience: None
Expected Growth: 7%
Public relations specialists focus on creating and maintaining a public image for a variety of individuals and organizations they may come to represent. In the music industry, this often means helping musicians and bands stay popular among core fans while expanding the base of potential listeners. Going on tour, promoting events, writing press releases, and scheduling meetings can all be tasks for a public relations specialist who works in the music industry. A good public relations specialist is both educated and talented. While the median salary is only second-best on our list of entry-level music industry jobs, the top 10% can expect salaries over $115,000, which is the most on this short list.
Popular Pick: from Concordia University of Texas
Middle School Music Teacher
Median Salary: $59,660
Training or Experience: None
Expected Growth: 4%
Middle school music teachers serve many of the same roles as high school music teachers, but some of the specific tasks and strategies are different. In many cases, they are the first introduction between a child and music, so their work can be incredibly important when forming a love of music at an early age. Music teachers can also influence the specific instrument a student will play, a decision that could have a lifetime impact. Like most teaching professions, middle school teachers are expected to grow by 4%, making this a stable, if not booming, career. With the top 10% earning over $96,000, this can also be a highly profitable job for people with a deep love of both teaching and music.
Popular Pick: from Baptist College of Florida
9 Highest Paying Music Jobs & Careers
#1 Music Professor
Median Salary: $79,540
Education: Master’s or Doctorate
Experience: Some experience often required
If you are extremely passionate about music and have a master’s or even a doctorate, you could become a music professor, a demanding, challenging career that is also tops our list of the highest paying music jobs. Professors don’t just teach, they may also conduct research, compose music, organize scholarly events, and more. A master’s degree is required to work at many smaller institutions, such as community colleges, but to become a post-secondary teacher at a major university, you will likely need a doctorate in music.
The median salary for all post-secondary teachers is $79,540, so it’s reasonable to assume that music professors will also be in this range. The top 10% can also expect salaries over $174,000, giving you the opportunity to become one of the best-paid professionals in the music industry.
Popular Pick: from William Carey University
#2 Pre-Middle School Music Teacher
Median Salary: $59,420
Teaching music in elementary school and kindergarten is more basic and fundamental. You may not be going over complex patterns of notes, but instead teaching kids to sing with confidence, or instilling a basic love of instruments. A knowledge of music can also help you become a strong teacher in general, as young children often respond well so song and melody.
Teachers of young children are lower on the teacher-pay salary, but they can still earn fantastic incomes. The median salary for this career is excellent, and the top 10% can expect salaries over $97,000, which is actually more ( although just slightly) than the top 10% of middle-school teachers.
#3 Film & Video Editors
Median Salary: $59,810
Although it may be considered more a part of the entertainment industry, film and video editors are certainly part of the music industry. They help create the perfect sound, and may be responsible for creating music video or editing footage from concerts. Their expertise may also be needed to help select the perfect equipment for recording music or filming videos.
Editors of film and video have a strong median salary, but the top 10% have impressive earnings. With salaries of $110,000, the top film editors have some of the best-paying careers in the music industry. Perhaps most enticing, this career is expected to grow by 18%, so there should be plenty of work for talented editors.
Sponsored Pick: from Full Sail University
#4 Music Director or Composer
Median Salary: $51,670
Education: Bachelor or Master’s
Experience: Less than 5 years
The educational requirements to become a director or composer of music vary, but most will need at least a bachelor’s degree and others will require a master’s in music theory, music composition, or conducting. Duties can include selecting musical arraignments, writing music, preparing for performances, and auditioning musicians, among many other tasks. Many professionals in this field only need a bachelor’s degree, but there are composers and music directors who have master’s degrees.
The top 10% in this career earn salaries over $125,000, making this one of the highest paying music jobs. Unfortunately, the career growth will only be 2%, below the national average of 4%. This may be caused by the fact that many music groups rely on donations to fund their musical work, and donations can be tough to predict.
Popular Pick: from Academy of Art University
#5 Event Planner
Median Salary: $50,600
Event planners are often associated with weddings and birthday parties, but they can also be useful for the flawless execution of a musical performance or concert. This is especially true if numerous musical acts are involved, which increases the complexity of the event.
Educations in event management, hospitality, or tourism can be useful additions to a music business degree. This will prepare you for a successful career as an event planner in the music industry. The annual earnings for the top 10% in these music careers is over $86,000 and the job growth will be 8%, making this a lucrative and stable career choice.
#6 Sound Engineering Technician
Median Salary: $45,510
Education: Postsecondary award or certificate
Experience: On the job
Working with a variety of technologies, broadcast and sound engineers operate and maintain equipment that is used for television and radio broadcasts. They often record music, and may need to use their technical skills to improve the sound without altering the music itself. Hands-on experience with the equipment is required to land one of these jobs, but an education in music, either playing or the business of music, can be useful for building your resume.
The growth for this career is strong, as the job is expected to grow by 9% between 2019 and 2029. Overall, this means 13,200 more jobs for these careers in music and sound. The top 10% can also earn over $89,000 annually, so those with dedication and skills stand to earn a sizable salary.
Popular Pick: from Academy of Art University
#7 Radio Announcer or DJ
Median Salary: $39,790
Radio announcers serve many roles at a radio station. If it’s a music station, this can include selecting music, adjusting sound levels, and scheduling interviews with local or national musicians. Presenting and explaining music may also be required for radio announcers at certain stations.
The pay for this career is right around the national average, but some jobs can be landed with less than a bachelor’s degree in education. If you are really good and work your way into the top 10%, you can expect a salary over $105,000. However, job growth is only 1%, as radio listeners may decline and automation may replace jobs as well.
#8 Musician or Singer
Median Salary: $30.39 per hour
Experience: None, but lengthy on-the-job experience
If you have a strong voice, a dedication to music, and a sincere passion for the art, you may enjoy working as a musician or singer. Depending on your talents, you may perform live, record with other artists, and practice playing songs. From solo acts to large orchestras, musicians hold a rewarding and highly-respected career. Some musicians also create music for commercial purposes, such as advertising.
The median pay for this career is not always the highest, but the 10% can earn over $80.00 and hour. (BLS only gives hourly wages for some careers, as they may have unique or inconsistent work hours, making salary predictions difficult.)
Popular Pick: from Calvary University
#9 Dancer or Choreographer
Median Salary: $18.68 per hour
Education: Training or bachelor’s
Experience: None (long-term on-the-job training required)
Dance is a fine art that can take years to master. While many dancers have little academic education beyond high school, there are years of specialized training and on-the-job experience for this demanding career in the music industry. While dancers perform the moves, choreographers create dance routines and build sequences. They may also be required to audition dancers and choose the best talent for a specific performance.
Dancers and choreographers can earn strong incomes, and the top 10% of choreographers can earn over $48.00 an hour. With a growing interest in dance and pop culture, choreographers are expected to grow by 14%.
Selling Your Degree Outside of the Music Industry
A music degree may seem like a narrow field, but it can be a broad education that can apply to a variety of different professions. Yes, you may be learning to read and play music, but you are also developing a strong mind that could be useful to employers of all types.
To sell your talents outside of the music industry, it’s best to focus on the universal skills you gain in music school. Creative thinking is one of the top skills from music school, and problem solving is also useful in music. Time management, collaborating with others, and taking responsibility are all soft skills that many employers appreciate.
During interviews, be sure to emphasize these skills, and give specific examples of how your music education can apply to their business. (And while you’re at it, offer to play music in the lobby!)
Continuing Education for Music Jobs
As a, you need to constantly focus on improving your craft and becoming a better performer. For many musicians, simply taking classes and learning more about instruments is an important part of your career. For example, you may already be proficient in the violin, but learning to play the cello, a similar but different instrument, could be beneficial. Any classes, seminars, or college courses that teach you to play a different instrument, or simply make you more skilled at the instrument you already know, will be useful.
Musicians within music theory, music composition, or another type of music-related area will likely benefit from a master’s degree. With a master’s degree you not only open more opportunities for music industry careers, but you enhance your potential earning for years to come.
If you are working on the business side of the music industry, a business or management-related education could help advance your career. An MBA, for example, could be extremely useful for someone who wants to become a successful manager or executive in the business industry and land one of the highest paying music jobs.
Teaching degrees could also help if that is the focus of your music career. Classes and courses that help develop your skills as a teacher could be beneficial, not only for you but for your students as well!
Earning ain music or music theory could be highly lucrative. As we described above, the median salary for post-secondary teachers is almost $80,000, and the top 10% earn over $174,000 a year. But to work in this profitable career, you need the right education. At least a will be required, but many post-secondary teaching jobs, especially at major universities, will require a doctorate.
Exciting Music Industry Jobs Await with the Right Education
The highest paying music jobs start with the right education. Visit our site to get the best resources and information on top-quality online music degrees. You can launch your music industry career, and we will be proud to help make it happen!