Music Director Career

music-director-500A music director, also known as a conductor, works with a musical group such an orchestra, choir or band.

The director leads a musical group in rehearsals to perfect a performance before a live audience.

The majority of music directors work in the education field conducting high school or university ensembles, but there are also job opportunities with professional orchestras and groups.

Music Director Career Snapshot

Music directors work primarily in two places: The rehearsal studio or classroom and the location where the live performance will take place. Rehearsals can be as short as a one-hour class period working with students, or several hours for directing professional symphony orchestras and ensembles. As a music director you need to be prepared to spend a lot of time on your feet in front of a group.

Further details on a career as a music director are listed below (statistics from the May 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics and Onet Online):


is the typical annual salary for music directors.


increase in employment between 2014 and 2024.


have a Bachelor’s degree while 13% have an Associate’s degree.

Music Director Education

Because most music directors work in the education field, you will most likely need a formal music degree. 57% of music directors have at least a Bachelor’s degree. To conduct a college-level or higher symphony, you’ll need at least a Master’s degree. Eleven percent of music directors have a Doctoral degree and 13% have an Associate’s degree. Some teaching courses are good to have as well, but not required in all cases.

Music Director Job Outlook

Jobs for music directors are only expected to grow at a rate of 3% between 2014 and 2024, which is slower than the national average for all fields. Most openings in the field happen when someone retires, because being a music director can be a very rewarding job.

Music Director Salaries

According to statistics, the median salary for music directors as of May 2016 was $24.09, which works out to $50,110 annually. Professional symphony orchestra and choral directors tend to make more, while high school and elementary school music directors make less.

Music Director Job Duties

A music director needs to know how to “conduct” a group to demonstrate the tempo, volume, pitch, entrance cues and other aspects of a musical score. You also need to know how to read music and to be able to hear when a musician is playing a wrong note. During every rehearsal you will be teaching musicians how to play the music for a performance, and teaching them to work together as a group.

Music Director Skills & Traits

Music Director Skill Set:Required Abilities:Tools Used by Music Directors:Typical Work Activities:
• Instructing
• Judgment and Decision Making
• Active Listening
• Coordination
• Hearing Sensitivity
• Oral Expression
• Fluency of Ideas
• Originality
• Musical instrument digital interface MIDI interfaces
• Musical instrument effects unit
• Musical organs
• Pen or flash drive
• Thinking Creatively
• Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
• Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
• Developing and Building Teams

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