Most professional singers start singing from an early age, and then develop their vocal skills by performing in choirs, choruses and glee clubs. They may then earn bachelor's degrees in music performance in college, and later apply for singing positions with operas, choruses or rock groups. Whichever genre you choose as a professional singer, you can expect to earn a salary averaging just over $5,500 monthly.
Salary and Qualifications
Most professional singers don't earn millions of dollars as Bob Dylan, Carrie Underwood or Christina Aguilera do, but they can still earn a decent living with their pipes. The average monthly salary for a professional singer was $5,536.27 as of May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you were among the top 10 percent in earnings, you'd make over $11,308.26 monthly. While some singers earn their way among the professional ranks with sheer talent, most have at least bachelor's degrees in music performance or theory. Other essential requirements you'll need are exceptional vocal and musical talent, perseverance, discipline and people skills.
Salary by Industry
A professional singer's average monthly salary can vary considerably by industry. In 2012, they earned the highest salaries, $8,209.06, working for promoters of performing arts companies, according to the BLS. These promoters are companies that specialize in securing venues and show times for performing arts companies, much like concert promoters. For example, the Metropolitan Opera Association, a large performing arts company, may hire a promotion company to book opera performances in other cities. These companies may employ or commission accomplished singers to better help sell convention centers or opera houses on performances, as they can earn a percentage of the revenue. Professional singers who worked as independent recording artists -- including back-up and studio singers and those who audition for commercials or films -- made $6,137.73 per month. If you worked as a singer for a performing arts company, you'd earn $6,090.93 per month. You'd make considerably less if you were employed by a religious organization -- $4,567.33.
Salary by State
Professional singers earned the highest monthly salaries of $8,664.93 in Massachusetts, according to 2012 BLS data. Those in Oklahoma, California and New York also earned considerably high salaries, $8,257.60, $7,680.40 and $6,656 per month. Your salary as a professional singer would be closer to the industry average in Tennessee, at $5,895.07, and you'd earn $5,123.73 in Oregon. Expect to earn significantly less in Florida and Montana, where singers earned average monthly salaries of $3,158.13 and $2,672.80.
The BLS projects a 10 percent increase in jobs for singers from 2010 to 2020, which is statistically about average compared to the 14 percent growth rate for all jobs. An increase in the number of people attending rock concerts and operas should increase jobs for professional singers during this decade. You may also find more job opportunities singing for commercials, television shows or in the movie industry.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: What Musicians and Singers Do
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: How to Become a Musician or Singer
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Musicians and Singers: Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Musicians and Singers
- Vocalist.org: Singing Careers
- Career Overview: Music and Singing Careers, Jobs and Employment Information
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