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Music Teacher Career & Salary Guide

Music Teacher Career Overview

Music teachers combine educational and artistic skills to teach music to students of all ages. Using a combination of theory and hands-on practice, music teachers provide instruction on a wide range of music-related topics from vocal theory to guitar to music history. Music teachers work in environments including the traditional classroom environment, music shops, colleges and universities, and in their own homes or studios.

Music Teacher Responsibilities

Music instructors provide both individual and group instruction, with duties ranging according to their particular position. While private music teachers often work with individual students or small groups, elementary and secondary school music teachers typically work with larger groups, directing the school band or choir in addition to providing lessons. Music teachers who work independently are often at liberty to design their own curriculum, while those in the public schools are at least somewhat beholden to a prescribed course of study.

Music Teacher Educational Requirements

Music teachers vary in the amount of formal training they possess. Some positions require at least a bachelor’s degree, while others may require an advanced degree, particularly a Masters in Education Degrees, at the college level. Other music teachers may have little to no formal schooling. However, it is important to possess musical skills and experience, as well as strong communication skills in order to develop a relationship with students.

Music Education Areas of Specialization
Music teachers work in a variety of environments, including the traditional classroom setting, private music stores, and their own homes, studios, or students’ homes. A music teacher can choose to specialize in a particular instrument or area of vocal study, or to focus on teaching music theory or history. Teachers can also specialize by workplace, choosing from public schools, private schools, other educational environments, or by working as an independent contractor.

Music Education Career Opportunities

Below is a list of possible career options for qualified music teachers. This is not a complete list and serves only as a guide to potential career paths.

  • Drum Teacher
  • Band Leader / Marching Band
  • Elementary School Music Teacher
  • Guitar Teacher
  • High School Music Teacher
  • In-House Music Teacher for Musical Instrument Shop
  • Middle School Music Teacher
  • Music Theory Instructor
  • Private Music Teacher
  • Piano Teacher
  • Vocal Coach

Music Teacher Salary Ranges

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), median annual earnings of kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers ranged from $43,580 to $48,690 in May 2006. While the lowest 10 percent earned $28,590 to $33,070, the top 10 percent earned $67,490 to $76,100. Salaries range for environments outside the standard public-school classroom environment.

Music Teacher Professional Organizations

There are several professional organizations and advocacy groups for teachers. These can prove a powerful resource and offer helpful information.
MENC – National Association for Music Education
AFT – American Federation of Teachers
GSN – Global SchoolNet Foundation