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Career Profile: Musicians and Singers

Play one or more musical instruments or sing. May perform on stage, for broadcasting, or for sound or video recording.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 157,300 people employed as musicians and singers in the United States. Entry level employees earn approximately $11 per year and senior employees earn approximately $87 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Compose original music, such as popular songs, symphonies, or sonatas.
  • Memorize musical selections and routines, or sing following printed text, musical notation, or customer instructions.
  • Play musical instruments as soloists, or as members or guest artists of musical groups such as orchestras, ensembles, or bands.
  • Sight-read musical parts during rehearsals.
  • Play from memory or by following scores.
  • Practice singing exercises and study with vocal coaches to develop voice and skills and to rehearse for upcoming roles.
  • Listen to recordings to master pieces or to maintain and improve skills.
  • Teach music for specific instruments.
  • Research particular roles to find out more about a character, or the time and place in which a piece is set.
  • Learn acting, dancing, and other skills required for dramatic singing roles.
  • Transpose music to alternate keys, or to fit individual styles or purposes.
  • Direct bands or orchestras.
  • Compose songs or create vocal arrangements.
  • Arrange and edit music to fit style and purpose.
  • Improvise music during performances.
  • Perform before live audiences in concerts, recitals, educational presentations, and other social gatherings.
  • Sing a cappella or with musical accompaniment.
  • Interpret or modify music, applying knowledge of harmony, melody, rhythm, and voice production to individualize presentations and maintain audience interest.
  • Seek out and learn new music suitable for live performance or recording.
  • Make or participate in recordings in music studios.
  • Promote their own or their group's music by participating in media interviews and other activities.
  • Make or participate in recordings.
  • Collaborate with a manager or agent who handles administrative details, finds work, and negotiates contracts.
  • Specialize in playing a specific family of instruments or a particular type of music.
  • Sing as a soloist or as a member of a vocal group.
  • Observe choral leaders or prompters for cues or directions in vocal presentation.
  • Provide the musical background for live shows, such as ballets, operas, musical theatre, and cabarets.
  • Audition for orchestras, bands, or other musical groups.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
157,300
Annual Openings:
20,800
Increase in Openings by 2030:
11%
Annual Salary Range:
$11 - $87
Education Requirements:
Some high school