How to Become a Band Director
Band Director Careers & Degrees

Band Directors are experienced in leading musical performances and band concerts for performances geared at entertaining a group of individuals.

Their schedules are busy during the day running rehearsal sessions, hiring musicians for the band and sometimes composing musical numbers of their own.

Individuals who want to become a Band Director may already have the musical talent and skills needed to enter this profession.

For individuals who would like to make a career in leading musical performances, some additional experience and education may be needed.

Education Requirements to Become a Band Director

Individuals who want to become a Band Director may already have an important trait needed to succeed in this profession.

The most important skill to have is musical talent and the ability to play a musical instrument.

However, having an educational background to supplement one’s musical talent will assist individuals who want to become a Band Director at the professional level.

Individuals pursuing a bachelor’s degree to become a Band Director can begin by entering a 4 year accredited institution or program that focuses on music.

To enter this type of program, individuals will need to tryout by performing in person, submitting an audition tape and are sometimes required to do both.

Students will need to focus on an area such as, conducting, music composition or music theory.

These programs will also teach individuals conducting techniques, composition, music history and music styles.

This type of program is extremely important as a Band Director will need to know how to read music to prepare them to guide a band through a concert.

Individuals who want to become a Band Director will also need to work on certain characteristics to help them succeed in this profession.

Some important qualities include: musical talent, perseverance (in attending auditions and submitting compositions), leadership (to provide guidance to musicians), interpersonal skills and the discipline to work long practices and concerts.

Band Director Job Description

A Band Director’s main duty is to provide leadership to a band during a concert or performance.

Some performances may only last a few minutes, but the preparation that takes place before a concert will take plenty of practice sessions and time to have the highest quality of sound possible.

A Band Director must first find the musical arrangement or composition they want to perform at an event or concert; some Band Directors may also provide their own compositions.

After selecting the composition they want to perform, they will start preparing by thoroughly reviewing and interpreting a musical score.

Band Directors must also seek and begin to assemble a group of performers to interpret the musical score.

This may include auditioning musicians or hiring individuals who have previously worked on another project.

If a score has a solo performance, a Band Director will also have auditions for that role.

After a group of musicians has been chosen, the rehearsal process and preparation will begin.

During rehearsals, individuals will learn the score in its entirety while solo artists will spend extra time learning and perfecting their solo performance.

During rehearsals, Band Directors will keep an ear out for an overall coherent sound and give feedback to musicians on how to get there.

They will also be aware of: timing, rhythm, volume and the balancing of a melody.

Once a composition starts to have a coherent sound, Band Directors will start performing in front of groups before finally being able to perform in front of a live audience.

Band Director Salary and Career Path

According to figures from 2012, Music Directors and Composers, which includes Band Directors, earn a median annual salary of approximately $47,350.

Exact wages will depend on the amount of experience, popularity and professional reputation.

Because Band Directors are in charge of gearing up for performances, they often need to rehearse during the day and be available nights and weekends for live performances.

The job outlook for Music Directors and Composers as a whole is expected to increase by 5 percent through the year 2022.

This growth is considered slower than average when compared to other professions and industries and some competition should be expected.

Individuals who have a passion for music and the arts will succeed if they work on their craft, musical talents and display dedication in the work they put out.

Successful Band Directors are highly musically talented but also extremely dedicated to the arts.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$64,670
$23K
$33K
$64K
$75K
$125K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$68,740
Arizona$53,400
California$73,930
Colorado$55,430
Connecticut$57,320
District of Columbia$75,270
Florida$77,470
Georgia$65,170
Hawaii$80,470
Idaho$79,780
Illinois$47,290
Indiana- NA -
Kansas$46,230
Louisiana- NA -
Maryland$76,110
Massachusetts$61,630
Michigan$52,250
Minnesota$63,920
Missouri$59,650
Montana$28,520
New Jersey$70,980
New York$77,160
North Carolina$51,050
Ohio$54,340
Oklahoma$38,870
Oregon$45,410
Pennsylvania$49,690
Rhode Island- NA -
South Carolina$51,210
Tennessee- NA -
Texas$67,040
Utah$59,810
Vermont$57,120
Virginia- NA -
Washington$64,630
Wisconsin$63,970

The top earning state in the field is Hawaii, where the average salary is $80,470.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Hawaii - $80,470
Idaho - $79,780
Florida - $77,470
New York - $77,160
Maryland - $76,110
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Music Directors and Composers, OCC Code 27-2041, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat does a band director do?

The main goal of a band director is to prepare the band members for various competitions and performances and improve their overall musical skills.

Band directors that work in public schools should follow state guidelines and make sure that all the students meet the educational objectives.

Of course, a band director should have an impeccable knowledge of music and musical instruments and have good people skills.

The typical responsibilities of a band director usually include instructing band members; preparing the lessons; selecting music; selecting players for solo performances; preparing for the performances and competitions; scheduling band trips; managing the budget, and so on.

QuestionHow much do band directors make?

On average, a band director can make a little more than $46.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to follow this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $34.000 and $64.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, what school you work for, the location and so on.

The band directors that work in San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas, for example, have the highest average salaries.

An entry-level band director can earn around $10 per hour, while a top-level specialist with plenty of experience can make $30 and more per hour.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a band director?

You would certainly need a bachelor’s degree in music education or performance on a specific instrument, in order to become a band director.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

If you want to teach in college, you should, in most cases, go for a master’s degree (an online degree can cost you around $7.000, for example).

You must be certified to be able to teach in schools; the cost of teacher certification can vary from state to state, so be prepared to pay anywhere between $40 and $200.

QuestionWhat is the demand for band directors?

The band director job market is expected to slightly increase or remain the same during the next decade.

The employment opportunities will certainly depend on the state and local budget.

The professionals that possess a master’s degree will have better chances of getting the highest-paid jobs.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a band director?

It will take you 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree and 1-2 years to earn a master’s degree (in case you want to become a band director in college).

To become a certified teacher, you would need to have at least a bachelor’s degree, complete an approved teacher education program, pass a background check and knowledge and skills tests.

The initial certificate is valid for 5 years; you would have to complete a certain number of professional development hours every five years to maintain the certification.

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