Musicians, singers, and related workers
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Musicians and Singers
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Overview
Musicians and singers play instruments or sing for live audiences and in recording studios.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for musicians and singers are expected to grow by 6%, and should have about 21,000 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Musicians and singers are less likely to be automated than 78% of other careers.
Workforce size
Musicians and singers, with 172,400 workers, form a larger workforce than 77% of careers.
Education
About 58% of musicians, singers, and related workers have at least a bachelor's degree.
Education attained by musicians, singers, and related workers
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
More musicians, singers, and related workers have bachelor's degrees than 74% of other careeers.
Gender
Women account for 22% of musicians, singers, and related workers -- that's a smaller percentage than 62% of other jobs.
Gender of musicians, singers, and related workers
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For musicians, singers, and related workers, the median men's salary was 6% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 18% of musicians, singers, and related workers are minority, and 14% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of musicians, singers, and related workers
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (14%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Musicians and Singers per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. The darker the blue, the higher the job density.
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
Job benefits
Employer or union-sponsored pension plans are offered to 22% of musicians, singers, and related workers, and 31% have company-sponsored health insurance (17% have dependents enrolled in their employer's health plan).
Employer-provided health coverage for musicians, singers, and related workers
100% premiums covered
Partial premiums covered
Plan with no cost sharing
No health insurance
Top college degrees
Here are the top college degrees held by the 57% of people in this job who have at least a bachelor's degree. Some of degrees may link to multiple programs due to the way Census classifies college majors. Click on a program to learn more about career opportunities for people who major in that field.
The downside
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of musicians and singers who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Time Pressure (66%)
SOURCES:24.0 O*NET
Salary and diversity
Salary overview
What do musicians, singers, and related workers earn?

In this section, we want to give you a clear idea of what you can expect to earn in this career. We use two sources of data here: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which asks employers to classify their workforce and to report salaries using the SOC-specialty level of reporting, and the American Community Survey (ACS), which asks people to classify their jobs using the broad classifications that ididio uses for career profiles, and to self-report their salaries. For some jobs, the differences in survey approaches between BLS and ACS can paint a very different end-picture. In particular, the ACS data is reported for the larger career group musicians, singers, and related workers, which combines the data for 2 careers, including musicians and singers. Whenever possible, we provide data from both sources.

The BLS-compiled salary data is reported by companies for their employees. This data is classified by SOC specialty, and excludes self-employed workers. We first show the distribution of salaries for musicians and singers, and then we show how the middle (median) salary for musicians and singers compares to the BLS-computed median salaries of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for musicians and singers (BLS Salary Data)
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
We compiled household data from the ACS to determine the salaries that people working at least 35 hours a week report themselves to earn. Unlike the BLS estimates, this data includes self-employed wages. Additionally, we only have ACS survey data for the larger career category and not for the specialty level. We first show the full salary distribution for all musicians, singers, and related workers, and then we show how the median (middle) salary for musicians, singers, and related workers compares to the median ACS-reported salary of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for musicians, singers, and related workers (ACS Salary Data)
$41K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$41K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Employers and salary
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, and following we show the salary distributions for these workers based on those employer types. For some careers, the salaries can be vastly different between private, government, and self-employment. As with our salary overview, we view the both the BLS economists' salary profiles and the household-reported salaries from ACS to get a thorough understanding of where musicians and singers work and for what salary. We have the great faith in the accuracy of economist-vetted BLS data; however, the BLS restrictions on which employers are surveyed skews the data a bit (read more in the sources), and the ACS responses provide different and useful categorizations of employers and salaries.
Employers of Musicians, singers, and related workers (ACS)
Private for-profit (18.5%)
Private not-for-profit (28.2%)
Local government (0.7%)
State government (0.4%)
Federal government (3.8%)
Self-employed incorporated (12.8%)
Self-employed not incorporated (35.6%)
Working without pay (0.1%)
Distribution: Salaries of musicians, singers, and related workers by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses. These salaries were reported for the larger career group of musicians, singers, and related workers, which combines the 2 specialties for this career.
$41K$30K$43K$46K$48K$51K$48K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000$120,000Self-employed not incorporatedSelf-employed incorporatedFederal governmentState governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of musicians and singers by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS. Remember that the BLS salaries are for the specialty musicians and singers, and may differ signficantly from the ACS salary estimates which combine several career specialties.
$0All
Age and career advancement
Salary growth for musicians, singers, and related workers

The biggest take-away from the following two charts is the relationship between salary and experience that we can infer from age. Does this job seem to attract especially younger or older workers? Does it reward experience?

Take a minute a look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working in this career changes. We only provide this data when there are enough consistent ACS survey responses to allow a reasonable margin of error, so for some careers you will see gaps in our reporting of salary by age.

$38K$43K$47K$44K$23K$45K$42K$35K$43K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KSalary distribution20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
02K4K6K8K10K12KNumber employed20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Gender and Equity
Musicians, singers, and related workers and gender

With 22% women, this occupation has a lower percentage of women than 62% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
22%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Musicians, singers, and related workers
Men (78%)
Women (22%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

As we'll illustrate at the bottom of this section, the median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 20%. The situation is a little better for musicians, singers, and related workers, with the median salary for men 6% higher than the median salary for women. This chart shows you the salary range for most workers by gender.

$39K$41K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

Nationwide there are twenty careers for which men do not have a higher median (middle) salary than women. The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary, for most jobs. Musicians, singers, and related workers have one of the smaller percentage increases for men's salary, with the increase the men's median salary over the women's median salary in this job lower than that for 83% of other jobs.

6%0%20%40%60%80%100%

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Race/Origin
Race and origin of musicians, singers, and related workers

The representation of minority and foreign-born workers is quite different between careers, and the relative pay of those workers also varies significantly between careers. The percentage of minority musicians, singers, and related workers falls in about the middle of all careers' percentages. The percentage of foreign-born workers in this career is near the middle of all careers.

Race/origin of musicians, singers, and related workers
White (79% )
Black (11% )
Asian (3% )
Other (3% )
Multiracial (3% )
Hispanic (0% )
American Indian (0% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
18%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
14%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for musicians, singers, and related workers by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$26K$33K$40K$41K$44K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KOtherMultiracialBlackWhiteAsian
Distribution: Salaries for musicians, singers, and related workers by nativity
$39K$41K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KAll foreign-bornAll native citizens

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Pathways to this career
Education requirements and salary
Education attained by musicians and singers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), musicians and singers typically hold no formal educational credential.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as musicians, singers, and related workers as reported in responses to the American Community Survey. Following, we investigate whether education level influences salary for musicians, singers, and related workers.

Education attained by musicians, singers, and related workers
None
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Deg/Doct
Doctorate
Details: Education and training recommended for musicians and singers

There are no postsecondary education requirements for those interested in performing popular music. Many musicians and singers of classical music and opera have a bachelor’s degree in music theory or performance. To be accepted into one of these programs, applicants are typically required to submit recordings or to audition in person and sometimes must do both.

Undergraduate music programs teach students about music history and styles. In addition, they teach methods for improving instrumental and vocal techniques and musical expression. Undergraduate voice programs also teach courses in diction. Such courses help students perform opera in foreign languages.

Some musicians and singers choose to continue their education by pursuing a master’s degree in fine arts or music.

Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for musicians, singers, and related workers? Below we see the distribution of musicians, singers, and related workers salaries based on the education attained. These comparisons are based on all survey responses by those who identified themselves as musicians, singers, and related workers, and are not intended as a statistical analysis of salary differences that would correct for non-educational factors that could contribute to high or low earnings.

$21K$36K$35K$42K$50K$49K$50K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KNone (4%)High School (13%)Some College (20%)Bachelor's Degree (35%)Master's Degree (19%)Professional Deg/Doct (2%)Doctorate (2%)
Bachelor's degree pathways
College majors held by musicians, singers, and related workers

This table shows the college majors held by people working as musicians, singers, and related workers. Select any degree to see detailed information. We are able to connect careers to degrees using the American Community Survey (ACS), and their degrees are defined a little differently from our programs, which are based on standard CIP classifications. Therefore, selecting some degrees will lead to a selection of CIP-level programs from which to choose.

If you see "**" before the name of a degree/program, that means this field is one that the Department of Education believes is preparatory for this career. However, you can see from this list that those recommendations are far from your only path to this job!

Degree
Select any title to learn more about that degree
Percentage of Musicians, singers, and related workers with this degree
Salary for all majors
Salary distribution (across jobs). Showing 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
Final education level of all people with this major
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Gender of people this bachelor's degree
Men
Women
46.1%
$0$200K$51K
3.3%
$0$200K$63K
1.9%
$0$200K$56K
1.6%
$0$200K$53K
1.4%
$0$200K$47K
1.2%
$0$200K$51K
1.2%
$0$200K$60K
1.1%
$0$200K$51K
1.1%
$0$200K$55K
1.1%
$0$200K$73K
1.0%
$0$200K$60K
1.0%
$0$200K$57K
0.9%
$0$200K$54K
The link between degrees and careers
The link between degrees and careers

With the following "sankey" diagram, you can follow the top ten bachelor's degrees held by people working as musicians, singers, and related workers, and then, in turn, you can see the 10 occupations that hire the most of each degree's graduates. This visualization links fields of studies and careers, suggesting both similar careers and options for degrees. The full list of bachelor's degrees held by musicians, singers, and related workers given in the previous section reminds us that there are many paths to these careers beyond what we can summarize here.

This job
Top 10 majors
Each major's top ten jobs
Elementary and middle school teachersMusicians, singers, and related workersPostsecondary teachersManagers (specialized areas)Secondary school teachersTeachers and instructors (specialized areas)Secretaries and administrative assistantsClergyEducation administratorsFirst-line supervisors of retail sales workersAccountants and auditorsWholesale and manufacturing sales representativesChief executives and legislatorsFinancial managersFirst-line supervisors of non-retail sales workersMarketing and sales managersRetail salespersonsLawyers, judges, and magistratesEditorsWriters and authorsCustomer service representativesHuman resources workersDesignersArtists and related workersCounselorsSocial workersPsychologistsPhysicians and surgeonsProducers and directorsActorsWaiters and waitressesPhotographersTelevision, video, and motion picture camera operators and editorsMusicArt and Music EducationGeneral BusinessEnglish Language andLiteratureCommunicationsFine ArtsPsychologyBusiness Management andAdministrationDrama and Theater ArtsFilm Video andPhotographic ArtsAll other degrees
Switching Careers
Most common new jobs
The most common next careers for musicians, singers, and related workers

What jobs will most musicians, singers, and related workers hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of musicians, singers, and related workers reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Musicians, singers, and related workersTeachers and instructors (specialized areas)Managers (specialized areas)Entertainers and related workers (specialized areas)Elementary and middle school teachersSecondary school teachersReligious workers (specialized areas)
Lateral career moves
Lateral job transitions for musicians, singers, and related workers

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 3 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as musicians, singers, and related workers as well as 1% of respondents after working as musicians, singers, and related workers. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Lateral-move careers for musicians, singers, and related workers
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Managers (specialized areas)
84,000
$0$200K$72K
Teachers and instructors (specialized areas)
55,600
$0$200K$43K
Entertainers and related workers (specialized areas)
3,500
$0$200K$37K
Full prior and next career listings
Prior and next careers for musicians, singers, and related workers: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as musicians, singers, and related workers? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of musicians, singers, and related workers surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Prior careers for musicians, singers, and related workers
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Percentage Transitioning
What percentage worked in this job the previous year?
Managers (specialized areas)
84,000
$0$200K$72K
3.0%
Teachers and instructors (specialized areas)
55,600
$0$200K$43K
3.6%
Musicians, singers, and related workers
30,100
$0$200K$41K
53.6%
Clergy
29,200
$0$200K$46K
1.3%
Specialized media/broadcast technicians
16,700
$0$200K$51K
1.2%
Entertainers and related workers (specialized areas)
3,500
$0$200K$37K
2.1%
No occupation
12.2%
Read about musicians and singers
Responsibilities and activities
Responsibilities and activities

Musicians and singers typically do the following:

  • Perform music for live audiences and recordings
  • Audition for positions in orchestras, choruses, bands, and other types of music groups
  • Practice playing instruments or singing to improve their technique
  • Rehearse to prepare for performances
  • Find and book locations for performances or concerts
  • Travel, sometimes great distances, to performance venues
  • Promote their careers by maintaining a website or social media presence or by doing photo shoots and interviews

Musicians play one or more instruments. To make themselves more marketable, many musicians become proficient in multiple musical instruments or styles.

Musicians play solo or in bands, orchestras, or small groups. Those in bands may play at weddings, private parties, clubs, or bars while they try to build enough fans to get a recording contract or representation by an agent. Some musicians work as part of a large group of musicians, such as an orchestra, whose members must work and practice together. A few musicians become section leaders, who may be responsible for assigning parts to other musicians or for leading rehearsals.

Others musicians are session musicians, specializing in playing backup for a singer or band leader during recording sessions and live performances.

Singers perform vocal music in a variety of styles. Some specialize in a particular vocal style, such as opera or jazz; others perform in a variety of musical genres. Singers, particularly those who specialize in opera or classical music, may perform in different languages, such as French or Italian. Opera and musical theater singers act out a story by singing instead of speaking the dialogue. Some singers become background singers, providing vocals to harmonize with or support a lead singer.

In some cases, musicians and singers write their own music to record and perform. For more information about careers in songwriting, see the profile on music directors and composers.

Some musicians and singers give private music lessons to children and adults. Others with a background in music may teach music in public and private schools, but they typically need a bachelor’s degree and a teaching license. For more information, see the profiles on kindergarten and elementary school teachers, middle school teachers, and high school teachers.

Personality and skills
Personality and skills

Can you see yourself in the ranks of musicians and singers? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.

Dedication
Auditioning for jobs can be a frustrating process because it may take many different auditions to get hired. Musicians and singers need determination and dedication to continue to audition after receiving many rejections.
Discipline
Talent is not enough for most musicians and singers to find employment in this field. They must constantly practice and rehearse to improve their technique, style, and performance.
Interpersonal skills
Musicians and singers need to work well with a variety of people, such as agents, music producers, conductors, and other musicians. Good people skills are helpful in building good working relationships.
Musical talent
Professional musicians or singers must have superior musical abilities.
Physical stamina
Musicians and singers who play in concerts or in nightclubs, and those who tour, must be able to endure frequent travel and irregular performance schedules.
Promotional skills
Musicians and singers need to promote their performances through local communities, word of mouth, and social media. Good self-promotional skills are helpful in building a fan base.
Trends in employment
Salary trends
Distribution and trends: Salaries for musicians and singers
Choose actual dollars or inflation-adjusted dollars to view
Adjusted for inflation
Historic dollars

This graphic shows how the salary distribution (adjusted for inflation) has changed for this job over recent years. The gray line, as a comparison, shows the median salary of all US workers.

All jobs' median $39K$38K20142015201620172018$0$10K$20K$30K$40K$50K
Projected versus actual employment
Exploring actual employment trends versus projected trends

Currently, jobs for musicians and singers are anticipated to grow by 6% over the next decade; 57% of jobs are projected to grow more.

The projected employment for musicians and singers is the best guess created by talented economists and statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, as you look through several careers you'll notice that the projections are heavily influenced by past performance and may miss current trends. No one can tell the future, and as new information and better techniques are developed, actual counts and future projections may change. Here's a glimpse at the actual counts versus the projections over time.

2000201020202030050,000100,000150,000200,000250,000
Employment counts
Actual measured employment
BLS 10-year predictions
Variation by state
Employment
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most musicians and singers? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as musicians and singers. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

One important factor in the differences between ACS and BLS data is that the ACS numbers are for all musicians, singers, and related workers, comprised of all specialities listed in the menu bar, and you can choose to view the BLS at the specialty or full career level.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS for this specialty
Number of Musicians and Singers per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
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0.00.20.40.60.81.0
Salary
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where musicians and singers earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for musicians, singers, and related workers compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for musicians, singers, and related workers.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information. The ACS salaries are for all musicians, singers, and related workers, which combines the specialities from which you can choose at the top of the page.

Choose the metric to review
In-state comparisions
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS for this specialty
Median salary ratio: Musicians and Singers to all workers (BLS for this specialty)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which musicians and singers earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.0
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the dots below to find other jobs you might like. The dots closer to the top represent jobs that are like Musicians, singers, and related workers (shown with a blue star). Look for the dots to the right to find the best salaries! (We pulled salary data from BLS, and they give a top salary value of just over $200K to protect privacy, so our graph would go much higher if the salaries were not top coded.)

How should the career similarity be computed

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?
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