What Can You Do With a Music Education Degree?

A degree in music education is more than just a ticket to teaching music in a classroom. It opens doors to a variety of rewarding careers, blending passion for music with diverse professional opportunities. Whether you dream of conducting an orchestra, becoming a music therapist, or diving into music technology, a music education degree provides a solid foundation. In this article, we explore the numerous paths you can take with a music education degree.

Traditional Careers in Education

K-12 Music Teacher

One of the most common career paths for music education graduates is becoming a K-12 music teacher. These educators inspire the next generation of musicians, teaching everything from basic music theory to advanced performance techniques. To become a K-12 music teacher, you’ll typically need state certification, which may require passing specific exams and completing a teaching internship.

Key Responsibilities:
– Developing lesson plans and curriculum.
– Leading school bands, choirs, and orchestras.
– Organizing concerts and musical events.
– Providing individual and group instruction.

College/University Music Professor

For those who wish to teach at a higher level, becoming a college or university music professor is an excellent option. This role often requires an advanced degree, such as a Master’s or Doctorate in Music Education or Performance. College professors not only teach but also engage in research, performance, and publication.

Key Responsibilities:
– Teaching undergraduate and graduate courses.
– Conducting research and publishing scholarly articles.
– Directing university music ensembles.
– Mentoring students in their academic and professional pursuits.

Private Music Instructor

Another fulfilling career is that of a private music instructor. This path offers flexibility and the chance to work one-on-one with students. You can teach in your own studio, at students’ homes, or even online. Building a successful private teaching business involves marketing your services and creating a personalized curriculum for each student.

Key Responsibilities:
– Providing individualized instruction.
– Preparing students for performances and exams.
– Managing scheduling and business operations.
– Continuously developing teaching methods.

Performance and Conducting Careers

Professional Musician

A music education degree can also lead to a career as a professional musician. Whether performing in orchestras, bands, chamber ensembles, or as a solo artist, professional musicians often juggle multiple roles, including performing, teaching, and recording.

Key Responsibilities:
– Rehearsing and performing regularly.
– Auditioning for positions in ensembles or orchestras.
– Recording music in studios.
– Collaborating with other musicians and composers.


Becoming a conductor is a prestigious path that involves leading musical ensembles such as orchestras, choirs, and bands. Conductors must have a deep understanding of music theory, performance, and leadership skills. Many conductors start their careers as musicians or music teachers before stepping onto the podium.

Key Responsibilities:
– Leading rehearsals and performances.
– Interpreting musical scores.
– Collaborating with musicians and soloists.
– Programming concerts and selecting repertoire.

Arts Administration and Management

Music Program Director

Music program directors manage educational programs at community centers, arts organizations, and schools. They design and oversee music curricula, hire instructors, and organize events. This role requires strong organizational and leadership skills, along with a deep understanding of music education.

Key Responsibilities:
– Developing and managing music programs.
– Hiring and supervising staff.
– Organizing concerts and events.
– Securing funding and managing budgets.

Arts Administrator

Arts administrators work behind the scenes in arts organizations, festivals, and cultural institutions. They handle everything from fundraising and marketing to event planning and financial management. A background in music education is valuable in understanding the needs of artists and audiences alike.

Key Responsibilities:
– Managing daily operations of arts organizations.
– Fundraising and grant writing.
– Marketing and public relations.
– Planning and executing events and programs.

Music Therapy

Music Therapist

Music therapy is a growing field where therapists use music to address the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. Music therapists work in hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, and private practice. Certification is required, typically involving coursework in music therapy and supervised clinical experience.

Key Responsibilities:
– Assessing clients’ needs and goals.
– Designing and implementing therapeutic music activities.
– Collaborating with healthcare professionals.
– Documenting and evaluating clients’ progress.

Music Technology and Production

Sound Engineer/Producer

Sound engineers and producers play crucial roles in the music industry, working in recording studios, live sound, and broadcasting. They manage the technical aspects of recording and producing music, ensuring high-quality sound for various projects.

Key Responsibilities:
– Recording and editing audio tracks.
– Mixing and mastering recordings.
– Setting up and operating sound equipment.
– Collaborating with artists and producers.

Music Software Developer

Music software developers create educational tools, composition software, and apps that enhance the music-making process. This career combines a passion for music with skills in computer science and software development.

Key Responsibilities:
– Designing and developing music software applications.
– Testing and debugging software.
– Collaborating with musicians and educators.
– Providing technical support and updates.

Business and Entrepreneurship

Music Publisher

Music publishers work with composers and songwriters to promote their work and manage copyrights and licensing. They play a vital role in the distribution and commercialization of music.

Key Responsibilities:
– Securing publishing rights for musical works.
– Promoting and marketing compositions.
– Negotiating licensing deals.
– Managing royalty payments.

Music Entrepreneur

With a music education degree, you can also start your own music-related business. This could be anything from opening a music school to running an instrument retail store. Entrepreneurship in music requires business acumen, creativity, and a deep understanding of the music industry.

Key Responsibilities:
– Developing business plans and strategies.
– Managing day-to-day operations.
– Marketing and promoting the business.
– Building relationships with clients and partners.

Writing and Research

Music Journalist/Critic

Music journalists and critics write for newspapers, magazines, and online publications. They review concerts, albums, and trends in the music industry. A background in music education provides the knowledge needed to analyze and critique musical works effectively.

Key Responsibilities:
– Writing articles and reviews.
– Attending concerts and events.
– Interviewing musicians and industry professionals.
– Staying informed about music trends and news.


Musicologists conduct research to deepen our understanding of music history, theory, and practice. They often work in academic settings, contributing to scholarly knowledge and teaching courses in musicology.

Key Responsibilities:
– Conducting original research.
– Publishing findings in academic journals.
– Teaching music history and theory.
– Presenting at conferences and symposia.

Other Opportunities

Community Outreach and Education

Roles in community music projects and nonprofit organizations involve bringing music education to underserved communities. These positions require a passion for outreach and the ability to design programs that make music accessible to all.

Key Responsibilities:
– Developing and implementing community music programs.
– Teaching and mentoring participants.
– Securing funding and resources.
– Building partnerships with local organizations.

Music Librarian

Music librarians manage collections of music scores, recordings, and related materials in libraries and educational institutions. This role combines a love for music with organizational and research skills.

Key Responsibilities:
– Cataloging and organizing music collections.
– Assisting patrons with research.
– Managing digital music archives.
– Acquiring new materials for the library.


A music education degree opens up a world of possibilities beyond traditional teaching roles. Whether you’re interested in performance, therapy, administration, technology, or entrepreneurship, your skills and knowledge can lead to a fulfilling and diverse career. The key is to explore various paths, gain experience, and find a niche that aligns with your passions and strengths.