What does a professional musician do?

Professional musicians will often choose a genre, instrument or performance setting relevant to their interests, passions and technical abilities. Although the manner and means of performance by a professional musician  can vary wildly, there are some commonalities across the profession. For example: composing original music, arranging sheet music, reading sheet music, writing original music for commercial use, liaising with clients, maintenance of musical equipment, repair of musical equipment and performing for a wide array of different live audiences are relatively general tasks that most musicians will have at least some familiarity with.

Tasks:

  • Performing to an audience
  • Writing original material
  • Reading sheet music
  • Maintaining musical instruments
  • Recording music in a studio setting

What skills do I need to be a professional musician?

Being a musician is often considered to be a specialty trade, offering people who are skilled musicians a line of work that is both a personal passion and the source of their livelihood. Being a musician requires a profound love of music, with the ability to consistently perform to the best of your own abilities with a technical finesse that strengthens over time. This also requires the ability and desire to continually practice your craft and your instrument, ensuring that you stand out within such a competitive and popular industry.

Skills/attributes
  • Love of music
  • Able to rehearse and practice regularly
  • Able to read sheet music
  • Patience and tenacity
  • Good at networking

Specialisations

Depending on what your passion and career goals are, the experience, qualifications and technical abilities you need will differ. You can choose a specialisation that appeals to your interests and career goals.

Session musician

Session musicians work on a freelance basis, trading on their ability to play an instrument or instruments with a high degree of technical proficiency. Session musicians are contracted on a project by project basis, lending their expertise and musical abilities to someone else’s project. This will often require the ability to read sheet music and think creatively.

Music critic

Music critics bridge the gap between the music and journalism world. Music critics provide both positive and negative reviews of concerts, albums and musicians, depending on their genre preferences and criteria for quality. Music critics are generally employed on a per piece basis by publications across both print and digital platforms.

Conductor

Conductors possess a directorial hand in the performance of large scale orchestras and music ensembles. Conductors are placed at the front of a musical ensemble, directing the tone of the performance and providing visual queues to guide the musicians through a piece of music. Conductors will rehearse tirelessly with their ensembles and will often be responsible for the hiring of musicians to fill out an orchestra.

Study pathways for professional musicians

There are a number of potential study routes for the aspiring musician. You can study in accordance with your passions, abilities and forecasted career goals. 

Getting Started

Choose a course that appeals to your aspirations

Skill Building

Improve your chances in the music industry with targeted study options

Professional Development

Hone your craft and get ahead in the music industry as you study

Industry Recognition

Depending on what your career goals are industry certification and qualifications will vary.

Getting a job after graduation

Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your entertainment career. Emphasise your personal strengths and achievements in your resume and target your cover letter to the job description listed.

Job Prospects and Salaries

There is moderate growth in employment opportunities for musicians expected over the next five years.