Is a Music Education Degree Right for You?

If you are more interested in teaching music than performing music, then an online bachelors degree in music education could be the perfect degree for you. In these programs, the curriculum places equal emphasis on music coursework and education coursework.

Music education programs equip students with key skills in conducting, music curriculum and instruction methods, and sight-singing and ear training. Aside from learning how to manage a classroom effectively, students in a music education bachelor’s program also become proficient in one or more instruments or in vocals so they can effectively provide choral or instrumental training to their future students.

Advice for Earning Your Music Education Degree Online

If you are considering earning an online music education bachelors degree, you should expect to complete some coursework and degree requirements on campus. Music education programs are seldom delivered 100% online at the undergraduate level because receiving training in an instrument or in vocal performance requires a student’s presence on campus so they can receive one-on-one instruction from their professors.

Aspects of the teacher preparation component require a student teaching internship, which take place on site at K-12 schools under the supervision of a certified teacher. To ensure you are choosing a quality program, consider those accredited by National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), a specialized accreditation agency that focuses on schools of music.

Required Courses

Online Music Education degree programs include courses in education theory, curriculum and instruction, and teaching, as well as courses in music theory, instruction, and performance. The curriculum is designed to produce graduates who are trained musicians as well as teachers. Common courses found in these programs include:

  • Conducting
  • Curriculum and Instruction for K-12 Music
  • Aural Skills
  • Sight-Reading
  • Musicianship for Teaching

Common Career Paths

Some potential careers for those with a bachelor’s degree in Music Education include:

High School Music Teachers

  • Expected Growth: 7%
  • Average Annual Salary: $59,125

High school music teachers plan lessons for students in grades 9-12, and some even double as band directors, providing choral training and/or instrumental training to students. Their goal is to instill a love and understanding of music in students and to provide them with exposure to the fine arts that they can take with them into their postsecondary education.

A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required to work as a high school teacher, and students must hold a valid teacher’s license in the state where they want to teach. The above salary and employment growth figures were gathered from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and represent average incomes. Actual salaries can vary based on your experience, education level, certifications, and other factors.

Middle School Music Teachers

  • Expected Growth: 17%
  • Average Annual Salary: $57,965

Middle school music teachers provide music instruction for grades 6-8 in public and private schools. As with high school music teachers, many also fill the role of band director and are responsible for organizing performances and leading fundraising efforts for their departments. A minimum of a bachelor’s degree and state teacher certification is necessary to work in public schools in any U.S. state. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

Kindergarten and Elementary School Music Teachers

  • Expected Growth: 17%
  • Average Annual Salary: $54,105

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers plan music lessons and provide music instruction for grades K-5. Music teachers in these early grades focus on teaching students basic musical concepts, such as singing on pitch, staying on the right beat, and the different types of musical instruments and what they do.

As with teachers at other grade levels, kindergarten and elementary school teachers must possess a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and hold teacher certification in their state. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

Independent Music Teacher

  • Expected Growth: 21 %
  • Average Hourly Wage: $21.48

Like other self-enrichment teachers, independent music teachers are usually self-employed and operate a teaching studio out of their homes. However, some work on contract with schools or colleges. Music teachers provide one-on-one instruction in vocal performance, piano, guitar, or other instruments, and may offer lessons in a variety of areas. While you do not need a music education degree or a teaching certificate to teach privately, it is helpful in terms of credibility and expertise on the job. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

Special Education Music Teachers

  • Expected Growth: 17%
  • Average Annual Salary: $59,495

Special education teachers work in elementary, middle, and high schools with children who have special learning needs. With a music education degree and a teaching certificate, you can bring music into the special education curriculum. If you are interested in special education, you should select special education electives if they are not already part of your degree plan. Figures above were provided by the BLS.


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