Musician

Alternative titles for this job include Classical musician, pop musician, instrumentalist, composer

Musicians create or perform different types of music, from classical to pop and rock.

Average salary (a year)

Variable

Typical hours (a week)

34 to 36 variable

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays away from home

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become a musician

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • applying directly
  • specialist courses run by private training organisations

University

Whatever your musical genre, you'll need a high level of musical skill and talent. Though you do not need a degree for all forms of music, in some fields it is expected, for example classical music.

You could study for a degree or postgraduate award in:

  • classical music
  • music composition
  • music performance
  • popular music
  • popular and commercial music

You could do this at a university or a conservatoire. You'll usually specialise in one main instrument and study a second instrument.

Some music degrees focus more on music theory than performance, so research the courses carefully to make sure they're right for you.

At audition you'll usually be asked to perform several pieces of music of different styles. You'll also need to talk at your interview about your your artistic influences and your musical career aims.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or 3 A levels including music, or equivalent qualifications
  • grade 8 in your main instrument
  • to pass an audition
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More Information

College

You could take a college course to get professional training and the opportunity to perform. Subjects available include:

  • Level 2 Award for Music Practitioners
  • Level 2 Diploma in Music for Practical Performance
  • Level 3 Diploma in Music Technology
  • Level 3 Extended Diploma in Music Performance and Production

You may need to pass an audition to get on to some courses.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

More Information

Volunteering

Enter talent competitions, music festivals and events to get yourself known.

For example, the BBC runs an annual competition for 12 to 18 year olds across the UK who create their own original music.

Direct Application

You may be lucky and get talent spotted. You could increase your chances by showcasing your music on:

  • networking websites
  • social media
  • music blogs
  • demo recordings to send to recording companies

The Musicians' Union has more details on how to promote yourself.

The BBC Introducing programme could be a way to get your music heard on the radio, if you're an unsigned musician.

Other Routes

Many musicians teach themselves. Some start learning an instrument from an early age. This might be with a private music teacher or training provider.

You can take graded music exams in lots of types of instruments including:

  • woodwind
  • strings
  • percussion
  • piano
  • vocals

Find out more about graded music exams from:

Armed forces careers

There are opportunities to train as a musician in the armed forces.

Find out more from the:

  • Army
  • Royal Air Force
  • Royal Navy
  • More Information

    Career tips

    Get as much experience as you can of performing in public.

    You could do this by

    • joining a youth or community orchestra
    • staging your own events
    • entering competitions

    Professional and industry bodies

    You could join the Musicians' Union or the Incorporated Society of Musicians to access training, events and networking opportunities.

    Further information

    You can get more advice about working in music from the Incorporated Society of Musicians.

    You can also find out more about working in creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.

    What it takes

    Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

    What it takes

    Skills and knowledge

    You'll need:

    • persistence and determination
    • ambition and a desire to succeed
    • knowledge of the fine arts
    • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
    • active listening skills
    • thinking and reasoning skills
    • concentration skills
    • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
    • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

    What you’ll do

    Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

    What you'll do

    Day-to-day tasks

    In your day-to-day duties you may:

    • compose, learn and rehearse music pieces
    • take care of and set up your instrument for performances
    • prepare for and attend auditions
    • perform in front of a live audience
    • take part in recording sessions
    • create 'demo' recordings to promote your music
    • engage with your audience through social media and website content
    • arrange concerts and tours or deal with a manager or agent who does this for you

    Working environment

    You could work in a theatre, at a music venue or at a recording studio.

    Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

    Career path and progression

    Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

    Career path and progression

    Many musicians are self-employed freelancers and often have to do other jobs alongside their career as a musician.

    With experience, you could:

    • progress in an orchestra to principal player or section leader
    • move into conducting
    • start your own ensemble
    • go into business roles like manager, producer, writer or work at a record company
    • become a singing teacher, vocal coach or teach your musical instrument
    • get into academic research

    Current opportunities

    Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

    Current opportunities

    Apprenticeships In England

    We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a musician right now.

    The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

    Courses In England

    Music

    • Provider: BLACKFEN SCHOOL FOR GIRLS
    • Start date: 01 September 2022
    • Location: Sidcup

    Music

    • Provider: LIPSON CO-OPERATIVE ACADEMY
    • Start date: 01 September 2022
    • Location: Plymouth

    Jobs In the United Kingdom

    The Find a job service can help you with your search for jobs and send alerts when new jobs become available.

    Skills assessment

    Take an assessment to learn more about your skills and the careers that might suit you.

    Is this page useful?

    Yes No

    Thank you for your feedback.

    Thank you for your feedback. Click here if you'd like to let us know how we can improve the service.