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Salary for an Oboe Player

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Professional oboists perform professionally either as independent contractors in the recording industry, with symphony orchestras or with professional performing arts companies. While traditional, or Barqoue Period, style orchestras usually carry only one oboe, the number varies from orchestra to orchestra and by particular musical piece. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies all musicians in one wage category.


According to a 2007 survey the symphony business blog, musicians in American professional orchestras earn $59,948 on average, regardless of what instrument they specialize in. This figure equates to an hourly rate of $28.82 per hour when calculated across a standard 40-hour work week. This figure is very close to 2011 figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics which states that the mean average for musicians as a whole was $30.22, or $62,8578 per year.

Factors Affecting Salary

Skill and experience are a major factor in the earnings rate of oboists. Only experts are considered for positions in performing arts companies or professional symphonies. Many professional classical musicians hone their skills with a formal musical education, at the apprenticeship level or with smaller orchestras before applying to become a member of more prominent acts. Internationally renowned American symphonies are almost exclusively related in large cities.

Salary by City

According to 2007 figures from the classical music business blog, oboists and musicians employed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra earned the highest average wage among American professional symphonies with an annual rate of $108,160 per year. The second highest earnings were in the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where players took home an average of $105,300 per year. The average earnings dropped off considerably for orchestras and symphonies in smaller American cities. Musicians in the Buffalo Philharmonic, for instance, yielded $39,245 per year.

Relevant Skills

Aspiring professional oboists should possess the ability to perform a broad range of classical music styles, as applicants with the most versatility are often given preference. Along with deft analytical and memorization skills, oboists also need the required self-discipline necessary to rehearse with extremely high proficiency and have the stamina required to complete the rigorous travel usually required of professional orchestras.


Maxwell Wallace has been a professional freelance copywriter since 1999. His work has appeared in numerous print and online publications. An avid surfer, Wallace enjoys writing about travel and outdoor activities throughout the world. He holds a Bachelor of Science in communication and journalism from Suffolk University, Boston.