How to Become a Music Teacher

Music Teacher Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $68,870
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 12%

Music Teachers are professionals who work with school aged individuals to teach them about music, how to play instruments and the appreciation of music.

Music Teachers may teach a variety of academic levels including: kindergarten, elementary, middle school and high school students.

These professionals may also teach different curriculum depending on the level they teach.

Individuals who want to become a Music Teacher will have a passion for teaching, enjoy working with kids and have experience playing musical instruments.

Individuals pursuing this career track will need a combination of personal characteristics, education and a passion for working with kids in order to succeed in this profession.

Education Requirements to Become a Music Teacher

A minimum of bachelor’s degree, state certification and knowledge in music are some common requirements needed to become a Music Teacher.

Individuals who pursue a master’s degree will have better job prospects and will also have the ability find advancement opportunities in teaching or the educational field as a whole.

Individuals who want to become a Music Teacher will need to have an in depth understanding of music including how to read music and how to play instruments.

Music programs at the postsecondary level are available at the bachelor’s, at the master’s and the doctoral levels.

Individuals have the option to complete a music program at the bachelor’s or the master’s levels and then complete a teacher certification program in order to teach in a public school system.

Typical postsecondary programs include coursework in music theory, musical training and music history.

Individuals also have the option to study a music program at the undergraduate level and then attend a master’s program focusing on education.

A graduate program in education will give individuals the understanding of preparing curriculum and how children learn as well as childhood development and early childhood education.

Individuals can choose either of the previous educational routes in order to become a Music Teacher.

However, all candidates must become certified in their state in order to enter this profession in a public school system.

Certification will vary by state; individuals are encouraged to contact their state for more information.

Music Teacher Job Description

Music Teachers teach school aged children enrolled in kindergarten through the 12th grade the art of music and music appreciation.

Music Teachers will prepare curriculum to help them prepare lessons ahead of time.

Creating a curriculum will also give Music Teachers the general concepts their students need to learn as recommended by their state.

Lessons will be created on a daily or weekly basis depending on the advancement a class is making during the school year.

Music Teachers will make adjustments based on each class’s learning curve.

Music Teachers will also create assessments and tests in order to determine how a class is progressing.

They will grade tests to see how their students are progressing in the musical curriculum.

Music Teachers will also prepare their students for any tests required by their state.

Music Teacher Salary and Career Path

Salary and wages for Music Teachers will depend on a variety of factors including years of experience and the academic level a teacher instructs.

The median wage for kindergarten teachers in 2012 was approximately $50,120 while elementary teachers made a median salary of approximately $53,400 the same year.

While Music Teachers who taught high school students earned a median salary of approximately $55,050 in 2012.

The job outlook for Music Teachers will also depend on the academic level an individual instructs.

Music Teachers pursuing a career in public schools at the kindergarten, elementary and middle school levels can expect a job growth of 12 percent through the year 2022.

This growth is considered average when compared to other professions.

Music Teachers focusing on instructing high school students can expect a job growth of 6 percent through the year 2022, which is considered a slower than average growth when compared to other professions.

A career as a Music Teacher gives individuals the opportunity to use their passion in music and expose the younger generation to a variety of musical genres, instruments and styles.

Individuals with the ability to read and compose music and who love working with children are a perfect fit for this profession.

In addition, individuals who have a career in teaching may also experience high levels of satisfaction because of the growth that children experience during the school year.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$80,870
New Hampshire$86,900
New Jersey$84,190
New Mexico$69,420
New York$107,020
North Carolina$71,760
North Dakota$68,160
Rhode Island$91,280
South Carolina$77,930
Virginia- NA -
West Virginia$51,270
Puerto Rico$35,720

The top earning state in the field is California, where the average salary is $147,680.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

California - $147,680
New York - $107,020
Rhode Island - $91,280
Minnesota - $88,020
Oregon - $86,970
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Art, Drama, and Music Teachers, Postsecondary, OCC Code 25-1121, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a music teacher do?

The music teachers that work in schools can be responsible for directing choirs, orchestras, and school bands; some students might also be taught theory, composition, and appreciation classes.

There are music teachers that can be giving lessons on an individual basis; the professionals can teach people to sing or play a musical instrument.

There are different types of music teachers; voice teachers, for example, instruct the students in proper vocal techniques, while instrumental teachers instruct the students in one of more musical instrument.

Music teachers can work in elementary, middle or high school.

In some cases, the subject is not a required one, so the students that choose to learn music are often more serious about studying.

How much do music teachers make?

On average, a music teacher can make a little more than $69.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to follow this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $36.000 and $133.000 annually.

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

The music teachers that work in California, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, for example, have the highest average salaries.

An entry-level music teacher can earn around $17 per hour, while a top-level specialist with plenty of experience can make $64 and more per hour.

How much does it cost to become a music teacher?

You would certainly need a bachelor’s degree in musical education, in order to become a music teacher (if you want to teach in a school setting).

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).

To improve job perspectives, you can 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.

What is the demand for music teachers?

Between 2016 and 2026, the music teacher job market is expected to grow by 12%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That is faster than the average growth of all occupations in the United States.

The industry is mainly concentrated in California, New York, and Texas.

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

How long does it take to become a music teacher?

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 teach music 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.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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