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Music education teachers focus on teaching students how to understand music theory, compose music, play instruments or sing. These educators are found from kindergarten all the way through post-secondary programs. Salaries for music education teachers depends on their grade level and union involvement, as well as other general factors including location and experience.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average yearly salary for a director of music in an elementary or secondary school was $49,260 in May 2010. This is lower than the average for all music directors and composers at $52,750 per year. The BLS also indicates that art, drama and music teachers made an average of $70,850 per year at the post-secondary level.
Elementary and Secondary Breakdown
Salaries for music education teachers vary slightly for those in elementary and secondary schools based on the grade level taught. The BLS shows that all kindergarten teachers, including those who teach beginning music exclusively or as a section of the overall curriculum, made $51,550 per year in May 2010. Elementary teachers, who do not teach beyond the sixth grade, made $54,330 annually. Middle school teachers earned $54,880 per year. Secondary teachers earned $55,990 annually. These figures are only a guide, as many teachers are certified to teach all grades. Discrepancies between these figures and the average for music directors in elementary and secondary schools also occur in part because the music education teacher is not a member of a teachers' union.
Elementary and Secondary Range
The BLS provides salary range data for music and other teachers in its general teaching categories. For kindergarten teachers, the range in May 2010 was $34,390 to $80,140 per year. Elementary teachers earned $31,720 to $76,490 annually, while those at the middle school level earned $34,990 to $80,940 per year. The range for secondary teachers was $35,020 to $83,230.
Rates for post-secondary music teachers vary according to the type of post-secondary institution where the teacher is employed. At colleges, universities and professional schools, music teachers earned $70,850 per year in May 2010, says the BLS. At junior colleges, the average compensation was $72,990 annually. At technical and trade schools, music teachers made $51,500 per year, while the rate in all other schools was $63,860 annually.
The BLS lists a general range for all post-secondary art, drama and music teachers. In May 2010, the range was quite broad, from $33,170 to $120,800 per year.
In many schools, budget problems have forced the reduction or elimination of arts and music programs at the time of publication. In some cases, music education teachers take salary cuts to prevent losing their jobs altogether. It is difficult for new teachers to get into the field because the program cuts mean there are more teachers in need of jobs than there are music education positions. However, music education teachers routinely supplement their income by taking other positions, such as directing church ensembles, as well as performing. Some music teachers earn income by teaching privately. These teachers may charge up to $150 per lesson, although rates of $15 to $50 per hour are more commonplace.
Wanda Thibodeaux is a freelance writer and editor based in Eagan, Minn. She has been published in both print and Web publications and has written on everything from fly fishing to parenting. She currently works through her business website, Takingdictation.com, which functions globally and welcomes new clients.