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Piano tuners, also called piano technicians, usually learn their craft in trade schools, colleges or apprenticeship programs. In addition to tuning, they perform routine adjustments and repairs. Piano tuners need normal hearing with a keen sense of pitch, manual dexterity and good interpersonal abilities. The government predicts excellent job opportunities as current tuners retire. Although salaries vary, as of 2010 the average piano tuner earned nearly $35,000 per year.
Average Salary and Range of Salaries
As of May 2010, the average piano tuner earned $16.75 per hour or $34,830 per full-time year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS survey combines piano tuners with technicians for other instruments and does not include self-employed tuners. Technicians at the 10th percentile earned $18,620 per year, while those at the 90th percentile earned $56,300 per year.
Salaries in Major Cities
Salary.com gives the average and range of salaries for keyboard repairers and tuners by metropolitan area as of June 2011. In Los Angeles, the median salary comes to $31,266 per year, while in Chicago it comes to $30,212. In Dallas, tuners receive median earnings of $28,390; in New York, they receive $33,800.
Salary by Industry
The income of piano tuners working as employees largely depends on the industry. The highest-paid technicians work for colleges, universities and professional schools, according to the 2010 study by the BLS. A total of 120 tuners for all instruments working in colleges had an average annual income of $50,710 per year. The 360 tuners working in manufacturing earned an average of $44,630 per year, while the 50 technicians working for rental companies averaged $39,510 per year. The largest employer of musical instrument technicians was musical instrument stores, which had 4,120 technicians but paid only $33,870 per year on average.
Earning Potential for Experienced Tuners
According to the Piano Technicians Guild, experienced piano technicians earn an average income from $35,000 to $75,000 per year. The majority of tuners are self-employed, so the individual tuner's technical skill and business acumen play a role in actual wages. In addition, many technicians increase their income by rebuilding and selling pianos. It takes between three and five years to build a business as a piano tuner and technician.
Technicians who belong to the Piano Technicians Guild can enhance their qualifications by passing exams on piano tuning and repair to achieve certification as Registered Piano Technicians. Tuners can also open piano stores, become rebuilding specialists or construct piano parts to sell to other technicians.