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Music Professionals

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects Openings 5 years to November 2019: 5,001 to 10,000
Salary Range Median weekly earnings: $1051 to $1300 to Source: Australian Government Department of Employment 2015
Brief We hear the work of musicians at the cinema, on the radio, at concerts, as background music on CD ROMs and even in elevators!

There are currently around 500 musicians and related professionals employed in South Australia. Employment is largely part-time and most work in the art and recreational services industry. Over half of persons in this occupation are male and most are employed in the Adelaide metropolitan area. This occupation has a younger age profile only around a third of musicians aged 45 years or older.

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TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Music Professionals

Accredited (Award)


Being a musician is a lifestyle choice and most serious musicians find themselves enhancing their knowledge through networks of musicians and most importantly keeping abreast of the music scene, whether it be classical or contemporary. 'You must find your grounding and roots in music and listen to CD's constantly. The CD is like the encyclopaedia to the musician. And you should always learn to appreciate all forms of music, not just concentrate on one form,' says a local musician. Musicians find work in a variety of environments including theatres, studios, local nightclubs, pubs, casinos, restaurants and hotels.

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Education Requirements

Currently 10% of the industry have Advanced Diplomas or Diplomas; 45% have Bachelor Degrees; 9% have Certificate III or IV; and 1% have Certificate I. Although 30% of the industry have no post school qualifications, due to the intense competition for work, it is strongly recommended that further study is undertaken to develop the skill required to compete in the industry.

TAFE SA offers courses relevant to this occupation including the Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Music and the Diploma and Advanced Diploma of Sound Production. Pathways include the Certificate II, III and IV in Music and the Certificate III in Technical Production and Certificate IV in Sound Production.

Career Path

Most musicians are self employed, so it's important to be business minded, or to employ an agent whose role it is to find suitable work. A musician who plays in several bands, recommends that rock musicians play in cover bands, covering well known top 40's songs, in order to increase work opportunities. Work options for smaller groups are also greater and given this, it might pay to get a small computer and use a midi sequence program, which triggers off bass and drum samples. 'There's more work for duos and trios because they're cheaper and can be slotted into smaller venues. Publicans don't want to pay a band $1,200 when they can pay a duo $600 for the same result.'

Employment may be affected by the level of government funding available, particularly for orchestras and opera companies. The level of activity in the hospitality industry can also affect employment opportunities.

Employment opportunities can also be volatile and competition extremely intense. Only the most talented may succeed. Many performing musicians are obliged to seek additional employment. However, as the music industry continues to expand, employment opportunities for musicians are increasing.


Cultural and Recreational Services

Nature of the Job

Musicians are not all performers. Musician is an umbrella term, which covers all the talented people who create and perform music. They may compose, arrange, orchestrate and conduct, depending on their area of specialisation. There's the composer who creates memorable musical scores for films like Titanic or Phantom Menace. Then there are the songwriters in a thousand garage bands, or increasingly, the 'sampler'/DJ who may put recorded music together using computer programmes and creating new styles of 'sampled' music. Then there's a conductor who conducts ensembles, everything from school choirs to orchestras. The list doesn't end there either. 'Musicologists' look at the history of music. Music critics report on the performing arts industry and 'ethnomusicologists' study music from different cultures. Most musicians are instrumental musicians, who perform by themselves (solo) or as a part of an orchestra, band or ensemble. They may play jazz, classical or contemporary music such as rock, pop or dance music.

Typical Physical Working Environment

To be a musician, you must have musical skills and a flair for entertainment. You need to have stamina to perform at peak level, self-confidence, motivation, dedication and determination. You must also be able to concentrate for long periods and have a mastery of one or more styles of music such as classical, jazz or pop.

Depending on the type of music you play, you may have to work late and on weekends, in what are typically noisy and smoky environments. But don't stress, even though you may have to sacrifice your weekend, these work environments tend to be very social.

Typical Occupational Example

The supply of musicians is currently much greater than the demand for services, and therefore it is a very competitive industry. Many performing musicians need to find additional work in order to pursue their musical careers. 'The pay and working conditions of musicians continues to be problematic, although the union is currently seeking reforms from the State Government to assist everyone in the industry,' says an Industrial spokesperson. Employment opportunities for instrumental musicians are mostly on a casual or contract basis. Full time positions are rare, but for those musicians who are also qualified to teach, there are some positions available in primary and secondary schools.

For further information, contact:

Adelaide Symphony Orchestra Pty Ltd
GPO Box 2121 Adelaide SA 5001
Ph: (08) 8233 6233
Fax: (08) 8233 6222

Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (SA/NT)
First Floor 241 Pirie St Adelaide SA 5000
Ph: 1300 656 512
Fax: 1300 730 543

Musicians' Union of Australia (SA)
165 Hutt St Adelaide SA 5000
Ph: (08) 8232 2388

Earning Potential

Under the Live Performers salary classification, the full time award salary for a musician is about $24,000 and this may go as high as $28,000 for a soloist. Self employed musicians generally negotiate their salary on a performance basis. Generally, only the better known bands can command the higher rates.

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online