If you want to be a concert pianist, your love of music has to trump your desire for regular income and job security. In this highly competitive profession, only the most talented earn a steady income, despite years of practice and formal education. You have to travel, be comfortable performing in front of a crowd and appeal to concert patrons to make it in this field.
Most concert pianists begin their career making what those in the lowest 10 percent of this profession earn. At the 10th percentile annual averages as of 2013 for concert pianists, as reported by salary survey website Salary Expert, were Pierre, South Dakota, $43,751; Miami, $47,184; Houston, $46,239; Augusta, Maine, $52,445; Bensalem, Pennsylvania, $55,015; Chicago, $55,519; Walla Walla, Washington, $52,023; Baltimore, $57,657, Washington, D.C., $63,381; and New York, $62,059.
The national average for concert pianists, according to Salary Expert, was $67,376, as of 2013. There are geographic differences among 10 randomly selected cities including Pierre, South Dakota, $55,300; Miami, $59,639; Houston, $58,445; Augusta, Maine, $66,289; Bensalem, Pennsylvania, $69,538; Chicago, $67,646; Walla Walla, Washington, $65,756; Baltimore, $72,877; Washington, D.C., $80,111; and New York, $78,440. The highest average in this group was $23,140 more than the lowest average.
For those who are at the top of this profession, annual pay is frequently in the six-figure range. Among 10 randomly selected cities average incomes at the 90th percentile, according to Salary Expert, were Pierre, South Dakota, $84,129; Miami, $90,730; Houston, $88,914; Augusta, Maine, $100,848; Bensalem, Pennsylvania $105,790; Chicago, $102,912; Walla Walla, Washington, $100,037; Baltimore, $110,870; Washington, D.C., $121,875; and New York, $119,333. The difference between the highest paying and lowest paying city in this sample was $35,204.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics includes concert pianists in its musicians and singers' category, projecting job demand will increase by 10 percent between 2010 and 2020, compared to a projected increase in demand of 14 percent for all occupations. Growth depends on factors such as overall economic vitality, government funding of the arts and interest in classical music. Competition for existing jobs is strong, as interest is high for few openings. Income stream is uncertain, as most concert pianists earn money only when they actually perform.