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Music Teacher Job Description, Career as a Music Teacher, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Varies—see profile

Salary: Varies—see profile

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Music teachers instruct individuals or groups in vocal or instrumental music and foster music appreciation. They may work full time or part time at home, in a studio, or in an elementary or secondary school, college, university, or music conservatory.

The specific nature of a music teacher's work depends on the type of position they hold. Private music teachers instruct a wide variety of students from young children to adults. Some of their clients pursue music for enjoyment, whereas others are preparing for a career in music.

Elementary and secondary school music teachers often direct the school chorus, choir, orchestra, or marching band, as well as give group and private lessons. They instruct students in the technical aspects of music, conduct rehearsals, and evaluate student performance. School music teachers sometimes take students on field trips to musical presentations, or the students may perform off campus under the direction of the teacher.

Education and Training Requirements

Although the education and training requirements vary according to the type of position, all music teachers must have a complete mastery of their specific field and general knowledge of other instruments and music areas. In addition, they must have good communication skills and be able to establish a rapport with their students.

No formal education or licenses are needed to be a private teacher. However, most instructors have spent years performing and studying in schools, conservatories, or privately with experienced musicians. Elementary and secondary school music teachers need a bachelor's degree in music education and state certification. Part-time work is a good alternative for many music teachers, since schools have cut many full-time positions in music. (© Ariel Skelley/Corbis.) Colleges and universities and most conservatories require an advanced degree.

Getting the Job

Private music teachers may establish their business by advertising in newspapers or contacting music departments of local schools. Those seeking employment in schools or universities should speak to a placement officer at the school from which they are graduating.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Increased student enrollment and enhanced reputation as a teacher help advance the careers of private music teachers. Elementary and secondary school teachers can become college professors by obtaining additional degrees and experience. College professors may move into administrative positions after gaining experience and recognition.

The job outlook for all types of music teachers is good through the year 2014. Because of budget restraints, many colleges and universities are hiring more part-time or adjunct faculty members instead of full-time teachers. To cut costs, some school districts are hiring only one music teacher to travel between two or more schools. The best opportunities for music teachers in the early 2000s were in part-time positions. In addition, an increased interest in self-enrichment classes, including music, suggested a pattern of growth in opportunities for music teachers.

Working Conditions

Private music teachers often work either in their own homes or in the homes of their students. They set their own hours but frequently work evenings to accommodate their students. Teachers in elementary and secondary schools follow set schedules, must adhere to established policies, and may have non-teaching duties, such as monitoring study halls. They often have rehearsals and performances in the evenings or on weekends.

College teachers usually have flexible schedules, teaching about twelve to sixteen hours per week. They also spend time preparing lessons, rehearsing, writing, performing, and attending conferences.

Earnings and Benefits

Earnings for music teachers vary greatly depending on the type of teaching, the number of hours worked, and the teacher's level of experience. According to MENC: The National Association for Music Education, private teachers typically set their own rates between $15 and $60 per hour. Certified teachers of music in public elementary and secondary schools have a median annual salary of $44,500. Full-time music faculty at colleges, universities, and conservatories can earn much more, sometimes up to $70,000 a year.

Where to Go for More Information

MENC: The National Association for Music Education
1806 Robert Fulton Dr.
Reston, VA 20191
(800) 336-3768

Music Teachers National Association
The Carew Tower
441 Vine St., Ste. 505
Cincinnati, OH 45202-2811
(888) 512-5278

Elementary, secondary, and college teachers usually receive health insurance and retirement plan benefits. Private teachers must provide their own benefits.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCommunication and the Arts