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How to Become a Musician or Singer

Educational and training requirements for musicians and singers vary. There are no formal education requirements for those interested in performing popular music, but those interested in performing classical and opera typically need at least a bachelor’s degree.


To work as a classical musician or singer, a bachelor’s degree in music theory or music performance is generally required. To be accepted into one of these programs, applicants are typically required to submit recordings or audition in person—and sometimes must do both.

For some schools, applicants must first be admitted to the college and then prepare a separate application for the music program. Undergraduate music programs teach students about music history and styles and teach methods for improving their instrumental and vocal technique and musical expression.

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

Musicians interested in performing popular music typically find jobs by attending auditions or arranging for their own performances. They may seek representation by an agent who will help them find jobs and performance opportunities.


Musicians and singers need extensive and prolonged training and practice to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to interpret music at a professional level. They typically begin singing or learning to play an instrument by taking lessons and classes when they are children. In addition, they must practice often to develop their talent and technique.

Musicians and singers interested in classical music may seek additional training through music camps and fellowships. These programs provide participants with classes, lessons, and performance opportunities. Sometimes these programs are associated with professional orchestras and may lead to a permanent spot in that orchestra.


As with other occupations in which people perform, advancement for musicians and singers means becoming better known, finding work more easily, and earning more money for each performance. Successful musicians and singers often rely on agents or managers to find them jobs, negotiate contracts, and develop their careers.

Important Qualities

Discipline. Talent is not enough for most musicians and singers to find employment in this field. They must constantly practice and seek to improve their technique, style, and performances.

Musical talent. Professional musicians or singers must have superior musical abilities.

People 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.

Perseverance. Auditioning for jobs can be a frustrating process because it may take many different auditions to get hired. Musicians and singers need determination and perseverance to continue to audition after receiving many rejections.

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.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition