How to Become a Singer
Growth Trends for Related Jobs
Singing in the Rain and Elsewhere
Singers are musicians whose voice is their instrument. If you sing well and enjoy it, you may want to consider a career as a singer. It's not easy to break into the limelight as a singer, and the road can be long and disappointing. Plan to take the first steps well before you have children. If you have talent and can supplement it with education and experience, over time, you'll have fun and earn a decent living as a singer.
A singer is a vocal musician who reads, interprets and sings music. She may write her own songs or sing those written by others. Singers sometimes record their music so that people can listen to them at their own leisure on CDs or on the radio or stream them on the internet. One way to categorize singers is by the style of music they sing. For example, those who sing jazz may be termed "jazz singers." Another way is by their vocal range. A female singer is likely to sing in the higher ranges as an alto or a soprano.
History is laden with stories of popular singers who never attended college. Buoyed by their natural talent, some singers appear out of nowhere and rise fast into the big time. For example, not one of The Beatles graduated from college or earned a degree. However, classical music singers and opera singers usually must have a bachelor’s degree.
if you want to train as a singer, the earlier you begin, the better. You can start in school with choir or regular music classes. You can study singing in college too and even earn a bachelor's or master's in vocal performance. Singers require training and practice to acquire the skills they need to interpret music at a professional level.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for singers is just over $25 an hour.
Road to Becoming a Singer
There is no standard career path to become a singer, but you'll do well to follow these suggestions. Start practicing from a young age in school choir or in a band with friends. Take private singing lessons if you can afford them, since this is a way to improve your skills.
You may also want to enroll in a formal training program, perhaps earning a bachelor's degree program in music with a vocal emphasis. This teaches you the craft and provides experience in performance. Perform as frequently as you can in college and outside of college. Audition for concerts and theatrical performances to further improve your vocal skills. Once you are out of school, consider moving to hub entertainment cities like New York, Los Angeles, Nashville or Chicago.
As a professional singer, consider taking on a manager or talent agent to help you find work and negotiate performance contracts and find connections. These professionals are paid a percentage of your earnings on a given job.
Singers work in a variety of industries. Most work for performing arts companies. Second is religious organizations followed by colleges, universities and professional schools. A few work for promoters of performing arts events, and these make the highest hourly wage.
Years of Experience
According to PayScale website, the average singer in the United States earns an annual wage of $35,362. No breakdown is provided as to how that translates into first jobs, mid-career jobs and jobs after you gain significant experience.
However, the average entry-level salary for the group "musicians and singers" is about $19,406; for experienced performers, it's a whopping $141,710. That takes into account the fact that not everyone who begins this career sticks around long enough to become experienced.
Job Growth Trend
You'll find more jobs for musicians and singers in the next 10 years, with job growth around 7 percent. However, lots of people want to be singers, so expect tough competition.
Teo Spengler has worked as a trial lawyer, a teacher and a writer at various times in her life, which is one of the reasons she likes to write about career paths. Spengler has published thousands of articles in the past decade including articles providing tips for starting a job or changing careers. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, and Working Mother websites. She holds a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley, an M.A. in English and an M.F.A. in fiction.