So, What Can You Do With A Music Degree?
When a student decides that they want to pursue a degree in music they often aren’t aware of what types of jobs they are qualified for when they complete the degree program. The truth is that the music degree qualifies their degree holders for a multitude of job opportunities that can vary by the specific type of music degree obtained.
There are many types of music degrees and some of the Colleges and Universities offer very specific concentrations with regard to a music discipline or sub-discipline. Most Colleges/Universities offering music curriculums will classify their music program offerings into one or more of the following music degree programs:
Music Business (Music Industry)
Music Education (Music Pedagogy)
Music History (Musicology)
Music Production (Music Technology)
Music Religion (Church Music)
Music Theory (Music Composition)
Music Business -Any person possessing a degree in Music Business has all the education and training that they need to apply for a job in any BUSINESS related field but, specializes in the music/media related business arena.
Music Business careers/jobs:
Booking Agent, Talent Agent, Casting
Copyright Specialist/Music Attorney or law-related -A specialist with regard to copyright and/or music litigation matters (advanced law degrees will be required to become a lawyer and various other professional requirements such as becoming a paralegal will required for law-related opportunities).
Traditional Music Stores
Electronic Music Stores
Any music (or non-music) related store or business
Librarian for large scale ensembles and music houses
Music Publishing Companies:
Sales, Organization, P.R., Marketing, Business Management, etc.
Music Industry (Business) -Those that possess a degree related to the music industry (many times these degrees are a hybrid with music business) are able to look for jobs within the music industry field.
Music Industry (business) careers/jobs:
Groups, Ensembles, Personal
Artists & Repertoire (A&R):
A&R Scouting- Listen to and find new artists and songs
A&R Management – Sign and negotiate new nands and deals
A&R Executives- Label owners and policy makers
Music Performance Promotion:
Live Concerts (Symphonies, Operas, Musicals, Bands, Groups, etc.)
Music Related Business Research (Sales, Trends, Markets, etc.)
Internet based music distribution companies:
Jobs with Naxos, Napster, iTunes, Rhapsody, ClassicalMusic.com, etc.
Music Education -While all public school jobs (in the U.S.) require a formal music education degree and college teaching jobs require at least a master’s degree, there are many career paths to choose from as an educator of music.
Music Education careers/jobs:
Church Related Ministries (many schools offer a Music Religion Degree):
Church-related Music Educator
Church Ensemble Director
Minister of Music
Private School Teacher
Private School Administrator (often requires advanced degrees)
Public School Teacher (requires state certification): Pre-K through 12th grade
Public School Administrator (often requires advanced degrees)
Music or Fine Arts Dean (requires a terminal degree)
College Professor (often requires a terminal degree):
Music History (Musicology, Ethnomusicology, etc.)
Music Performance (adjunct or otherwise)
Music Production (electronic or otherwise)
Private Studio Teacher (small, group, online)
Music Performance Degree –a degree program that concentrates on making you a better performer. While many will argue that best performer will get the job regardless of any degree(s), the entire purpose of getting a Music Performance Degree is to develop you into THE BEST PERFORMER that you can be.
With this degree you will compete with any-and-all for a chance to perform all types of music:
Recorded Venues (Video, Film, Commercials, etc.)
Become a teacher in your chosen instrument or voice:
Private, Public (with a music education degree), College/University, etc.
Music Production/Engineering –Degrees and specializations in this area allow individuals to work in the recording/media side of the music industry:
Acousticians/Acoustic Consultants: Work with builders and other specialists to determine/design the sound field properties of a given room or area
Audio Engineer: Work with the recording of music: microphone placement, mixing, re-mixing, etc.
Audio Producers: Usually have oversight of the entire recording process for any given recording session
Audio Technicians (assistants): Work side-by-side with the audio engineers
Electronic Engineer/Computer Engineer Sound Specialists: These positions will require degrees in mechanical/electrical/computer engineering and get to develop and work with the latest music production technology equipment and gear
Multimedia Specialist/Developer: Work with the digitization of recorded media for anything from internet usage to video and film usage
Post Production Sound Engineer: A specific type of sound engineer that works with sound recordings after the recording process is finished
Software Designer: Design software with regard to the various music applications and music related computer needs (degrees and/or proficiency in computer programming will also be required)
Teach music related technology programs/courses at the private, public, or College/University level with the appropriate degrees
Music Theory/Composition –Arrange, Analyze, Compose, Edit, Orchestrate, and Transcribe Music:
Ensembles and individuals
Teacher or Professor of Music Theory or Composition
Music Therapy -This type of degree is required for working within the medical health profession with regard to the various medical conditions of individuals. Employment in many of the related music therapy areas often require additional certifications or registrations.
Music Therapists are employed in the following settings:
Alcohol/Drug Rehab Centers
Mental Health centers/institutions
Universities and Colleges
Related Music Careers (any degree):
Instrumental Repair (some schools offer degrees or certifications in Music Repair)
Piano Tuner (a great “ear” and likely…additional professional training/certifications)
Music Historian (usually requires advanced degrees in Music History/Musicology)
Music Journalist or Publicist (may require advanced education in writing/journalism, etc.)
Instrument Design (most likely you will need an acoustics/engineering background for this one!)
While this is not an exhaustive list by any means, it certainly provides a good survey of the opportunities available for those seeking or having a music degree.
Joseph M. Pisano, Ph.D. is the creator of many education websites, a lecturer, clinician, trumpeter, and conductor. He is currently the Associate Chair of Music and Director of Bands in the Calderwood School of Arts at Grove City College in PA. He been named a TI:ME Teacher of the Year, received the JEN Jazz Educator Award and the PA Citation of Excellence. He is a past Vice President of the Technology Institute for Music Educators and the current Vice-President of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association. He also writes for DCI Magazine, Teaching Music Magazine, and is the Educational Editor for In-Tune Monthly Magazine; he has contributed hundreds of articles to various publications. Find out more at his website jpisano.com.