Many musicians dream of careers in which they play on large stages and are surrounded by thousands of screaming fans. But only a small percentage of musicians actually follow those dreams to completion. According to a Department of Labor study done in 2000, musicians often had to supplement their income with other types of jobs since their employment playing was usually part-time or sporadic. Average musicians are left wondering how their skill sets can help them in the future. Drummers have many job options that can use their skills and creativity, even if these don't include their playing abilities.
Teaching is perhaps one of the most common jobs for drummers and other musicians to have. Passing on your knowledge can be satisfying and lucrative. For non-degree drummers, private lessons are usually the best option. The more experience you have and the better your reputation, the more you can charge per lesson. Some drummers choose to teach on their own, coming to students in their own homes, or opening a private home studio for teaching. Others find it easier when starting out to attach themselves to a local music studio or shop. In this case, the shop handles the majority of the booking and scheduling of students, and takes a portion of the lesson fee in exchange for the use of their facility and services. Most states require public school teachers to have degrees, so if you wish to teach in a school system, you should pursue a degree.
There are countless jobs available in the music industry. Record companies need artists and repertoire (A&R) agents to be liaisons between the artists and record companies. Someone who is already a musician has some inside knowledge on what the artists in residence may want or need from the company. In addition, scouts are always needed to listen to new talent and recommend them to the company. Recording studios also use drummers as recording engineers, to listen to recordings and adjust the volume and quality settings of the drum set.
Many music writers and arrangers have little knowledge on how percussion works. If you are trained in writing drum music, you can use your talent to collaborate with others. In some cases, one writer will handle all of the musical lines and a drummer will arrange the drum parts for them based on the vision of the composer.
The obvious career choice for a drummer is to be a performer. There are more performing gigs than just the glamorous arena-filling ones. Many professional musicians contract out their talents to recording studios, commercial enterprises and small bands. For example, a temporary pit crew, the band that plays during musical theater, may need a drummer for the run of their musical. A local ad agency may need original music recorded for a commercial they are shooting. Simply keep options open and remember that you can be a successful performer without having a legion of fans.