Instrumental Musicians are categorized under the Artistic Theme Code of the Strong Interest Inventory®, the most thoroughly researched career assessment. This Inventory was designed to help individuals find fulfilling careers.  Under the Artistic Theme Code Category, careers generally focus on enjoying, performing, or creating art. They have a flexible work environment that supports creative outlets, and attracts individuals who have a proclivity for art in both their personal and professional lives. They can be emotional and in touch with their own and others’ feelings.

Instrumental Musicians generally play one or more instruments as independent soloists, or as members of a group, orchestra, band, or other performing organization. Their responsibilities include rehearsing their parts both independently as well as in conjunction with other performers in their ensemble, and developing additional skills by taking lessons or performing drills or exercises. They may specialize in playing particular types of instruments, for instance, woodwinds or brass, or a particular type of music. Either way, they perform their masterpieces before live and studio audiences, and often make recordings for sale or donation.

Most Musicians will audition for roles, for instance by sight-reading parts, playing from memory, or imitating a recording. Once they are selected, they listen to recordings repeatedly in order to maintain or improve their skills. Those who are more famous most likely maintain a media or social media presence to promote their own or their group’s music. Instrumental Musicians who write their own music may also need to transpose, arrange, or edit music so that it can be played on their instrument or by others in their group.

Musician Career

Read all about a career as a Musician including career stats such as Median Salary, Employment Growth, Required Experience and More!

Instrumental Musicians use many different kinds of tools, depending on their instrument. Those who play string instruments, for instance, may use capos, string cutters, bows, picks, or other accessories. Drummers might use mallets or wooden drum sticks, or cymbal stands. Most Musicians will use metronomes, which keep time, and microphones, among other sound equipment. They also need a range of different kinds of software, including financial tracking and appointment scheduling software, as well as various blogs, social media, and web interfaces, including but not limited to e-mail servers, snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and others. Musicians who create their own videos or audio recordings use sound and video creation and editing software, including Apple GarageBand or YouTube.

Successful Instrumental Musicians should have a solid foundation in the fine arts, including music as well as performance, and have developed active listening, coordination, and critical thinking skills. Most Musicians develop this expertise in high school (13%) or in college or even higher education (49%). However, some Musicians are self-taught.

The average hourly rate and Musician Salary is $24.20 nation-wide. This rate can vary across the country, with Nevada offering an hourly rate just above $35.00, and Wisconsin offering an hourly rate of just $11.85. The fastest growth in Musician jobs is happening in the western United States, with Idaho, Utah, Colorado, and Texas adding over 1,000 jobs total. Florida and New York are experiencing a lower growth rate, but are still adding over 1,500 jobs each for Instrumental Musicians before 2024.

Below are some employment trends for Instrumental Musicians:

  • Median Instrumental Musician Salary: $24.20/hour
  • Employment: 173,000 employees
  • Projected growth (2014-2024): slower than average (2% to 4%)
  • Projected job openings (2014-2024): 56,300
[Information retrieved from Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data and 2014-2024 employment projections]


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  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data and 2014-2022 employment projections