Music Teacher Career Guide

A music teacher instructs students about music concepts and facilitates musical activities such as singing, playing instruments, and listening to and analyzing music pieces. This guide provides information on how to become a music teacher, common tasks, salary, and the job outlook for music teachers.

Table of Contents

How to Become
Job Description
Salary & Job Outlook
Additional Resources
Frequently Asked Questions
Related Pages

How to Become a Music Teacher

Like any teacher who works at a public school, a music teacher must have a bachelor’s degree and complete a state-approved teacher preparation program to meet certification requirements. A bachelor’s program in music education may include courses in musical theory, music in early childhood, and choral conducting. Many colleges and universities require students to audition with their primary instrument/voice to be accepted into the school of music. A period of student teaching is usually included, giving prospective music teachers real-world experience. The typical steps to becoming a music teacher in a K-12 public school are as follows:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in music or music education that includes a teacher preparation program.
  2. Complete a student teaching internship in music at the grade level you wish to teach.
  3. Take your state’s required tests for prospective teachers and any required content-specific tests.
  4. Apply for your teaching certificate, along with a music endorsement, if required for your state.
  5. Begin applying for open music teacher jobs.

If you already have a bachelor’s degree in music but did not take the required education courses, you may be eligible to pursue alternative teacher certification. Earning a master’s degree in education designed for first-time teachers can be another pathway to teacher certification. Private schools may or may not require music teachers to hold a teaching license, but most require teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Music Teacher Job Description

A music teacher instructs students or classes in subjects from general music, choral or voice, instrumental music, or a combination of these topics. Music teacher jobs are available in a variety of settings. Music teachers work part-time or full-time in private music schools or homes, K-12 schools, colleges, universities, or music conservatories. Instruction can include a range of student ages, abilities, and grade levels. Independent music educators who provide lessons from their homes or private studios may also work with adult pupils. Music teachers must show considerable skill, knowledge, patience, and creativity. They not only instruct students in the technical aspects of music and performance but encourage music appreciation.

Common Tasks

The duties of a music teacher vary depending on the specialty and employment setting. K-12 public and private school music teachers may direct a school choir, marching band, or orchestra. At the elementary level, they may teach a classroom of young children the basics of music, including tone, pitch, and scales, and introducte various musical instruments and styles. Music teachers develop curricula, conduct rehearsals and musical performances, and assess students for grading purposes. Many music teachers accompany students on field trips and participate in various musical performances.

Helpful Skills and Experience

Deep knowledge of music, a portfolio showcasing their work, and performance experience can help prospective music teachers stand out. A master’s degree in music may also help a teacher get hired. Music teachers, like all teachers, should have good organizational skills, excellent communication and presentation skills, and sound decision-making skills. Music teachers who will be working with children should have patience and be able to remain calm and fair. A love of children, keen musical intuition, and compassionate demeanor are also beneficial.

Music Teacher Salary and Job Outlook

The following teacher salaries are reported from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and serve as proxies for music teachers:

  • Elementary school teachers: Median salary: $61,690 / 90th percentile: $101,3101
  • Middle school teachers: Median salary: $61,810 / 90th percentile: $100,5702
  • High school teachers: Median salary: $62,360 / 90th percentile: $101,7103
  • Postsecondary art, drama, and music teachers*: Median salary: $69,530 / 90th percentile: $149,5604

*Master’s degree or higher typically required.

The BLS projects a teacher employment increase of 4-5% for kindergarten through high school teachers between 2021 and 2031, and 9% for postsecondary teachers of art, drama, and music through 2031.5-8 Job opportunities can vary greatly depending on location, type of school, and the teacher’s experience.

Additional Resources

Music Teacher Career Interviews

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Besides public schools, what are other employers of music teachers?

Answer: Non-profit organizations such as churches, community centers, daycare centers, and private schools may hire music teachers for part-time or full-time roles.

Question: How strong is the job market for music teachers?

Answer: In public schools, music teachers face a competitive job market as the education landscape continues to favor using public and government funding for core academic subjects. With the addition of STEM and increasingly rigorous demands on students, music and the arts are typically the first programs to be cut, whether it be for budgetary or space reasons. Hopeful music teachers may increase their prospects by pursuing certification in multiple subjects and by being open to teaching in private schools, non-traditional teaching, and/or private tutoring.

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2022 Occupational Employment and Wages, Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252021.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2022 Occupational Employment and Wages, Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252022.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2022 Occupational Employment and Wages, High School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252031.htm
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Art, Drama, and Music Teachers, Postsecondary: https://www.bls.gov/oes/2019/may/oes251121.htm
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm
6 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Middle School Teachers: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/middle-school-teachers.htm
7. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, High School Teachers: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm
8. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Postsecondary Teachers: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm