How to Become a Singer

If you’re considering a career as a Singer, then you’ll want to keep reading. This guide contains skill requirements, average salaries, insights from a professional Singer and more.

 

What Does a Singer Do?

Singers use their vocal talents in a number of settings. Whether they work in a recording studio or onstage, Singers can provide vocal accompaniment for another artist, record an advertising jingle, perform as a soloist or sing as a part of a group.

Along with having the ability to hit the right notes, carry a tune and control their timing, Singers must also be able to work well with other musicians and Singers. Common Singer duties and responsibilities include:

  • Singing during a studio session until the desired recording is created
  • Performing in front of a variety of audiences, both small and large
  • Travelling to booked music venues, which can take either a few minutes or a few days

Singer Skills

Having a love of music and a good voice is a fundamental part of being a professional Singer, but there are also a multitude of other skills which can be instrumental in the success of a Singer’s career. In order to lend their work consistency, Singers should be able to read and sing along to sheet music, repeatedly replicate the correct sounds of a song and have a great deal of control over their own voice.

Other key Singer skills include:

  • Charisma and stage presence
  • A firm understanding of the principles of music theory
  • Ability to adhere to a measured rhythm
  • Basic financial and business skills

 

How Do You Become a Singer?

Education and Training

Based on our analysis of online job listings, employers aren’t looking for Singers with any particular educational background. However, depending on your personal aspirations, it could be beneficial for you to obtain an undergraduate degree in music or music theory with an emphasis on vocal performance. Earning this degree can be extremely helpful in fine-tuning your technical knowledge, and will certainly be appealing to employers who are looking for Singers who are serious about music as both art form and an area of study. To find a music school near you, click here.

Regardless of whether you decide to pursue a degree in music or not, vocal lessons will be an invaluable asset to your career as a Singer. Lessons can help you build confidence, strengthen your vocal muscles, increase your level of control, expand your range and prevent your vocal cords from being involuntarily damaged. To find a qualified vocal instructor near you, click here.

Finding a Job

According to findings published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for Singers is increasing by 3%, which is projected to result in the opening of 6,000 new positions between 2014 and 2024. This rate is below average when compared to other fields. However, it must also be noted that Bureau of Labor Statistics data is often lacking in accuracy when it comes to careers like Singing, which often involve freelancing and taking part-time jobs, rather than being an officially documented full-time job. So, when considering your career prospects as a Singer, keep in mind that the demand rate is most likely increasing by more than 3 percent if gigs and freelance work are taken into account.

Before you begin your job search, make sure that you have a professional and polished resume on hand. Look through JobHero’s library of Singer resume samples for some new ideas.

Once your resume is complete, search online for available jobs. Before you apply to any positions, be sure to prepare a cover letter which will express your own motivations for applying, as well as your specific areas of expertise. Check out our sample cover letters for inspiration.

 

Insights from a Singer

To get an insider’s perspective on how to become a Singer, we talked to Mella Barnes, a professional session Singer, songwriter and producer. She is the co-founder of Brain Stamp Music and the author of Way Less Cowbell.

What is the common career path for Singers?

I know this is going to sound cliché, but there is no true common career path for a Singer. You can study music in college and go the classical route, you can find a band and perform on weekends, you can try out for America’s Got Talent….there are endless ways to becoming a Singer. Your best bet is to just start! Find a band online who wants to play out live, or take some voice lessons. You’ll meet other Singers who might know someone who needs your voice, or form a group with fellow students. There’s no wrong way to get started!

What should someone consider before becoming a Singer?

Before becoming a Singer, consider the extent you want to take your career. Not everyone can be famous, but anyone can be a Singer who plays out on weekends for extra cash. Decide which one you’d like to do and go for it! Also, I can’t stress voice lessons enough. Even if you’re an amazing Singer, having a solid foundation and muscle support is crucial to a lasting career. You’ll learn important techniques and skills that will serve you for years.

What type of person excels in this job?

You need to have a unique perspective on life, charisma, a great personality, and if you’re a live performer, you’ll need great stage presence. Talent doesn’t always equal success in music, but that’s not a bad thing because it means you can have more chances to make it, and if you actually are talented that’s a bonus. Great business minds are important in this industry as well!

What are some of the most important skills for Singers to have?

Obviously, singing skills are important. But you’ll also need to be someone who can take criticism and rejection. You’ll have to work with a variety of people. You’ll have to be able to emote through your singing, so acting skills are a plus. Money and business skills will always serve you well, in any career.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a Singer?

I absolutely love connecting to people through music. I primarily help songwriters and musicians finish their own songs, either by writing lyrics or singing the songs, and I love being able to help people achieve their dream song. It’s so rewarding and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.

 

How Much Do Singers Get Paid?

Singers can be paid in a variety of ways, whether that means an hourly rate for time spent in a recording studio, a flat rate for a particular gig or a yearly salary for a full-time singing job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for a Singer is $24.20, with the lowest-paid earning $9.40 per hour and the highest-paid earning $68.98 per hour.

Top Ten States for Singer Salary

Singers in the following ten states earn the highest median hourly wage in the U.S.

  1. Nevada: $35.17
  2. New York: $35.05
  3. Washington: $33.11
  4. Massachusetts: $31.65
  5. California: $30.33
  6. Tennessee: $28.46
  7. Pennsylvania: $27.57
  8. Maryland: $27.40
  9. District of Columbia: $27.32
  10. Vermont: $26.90

 

Singer Resources

We collected this list of resources to help you keep exploring your career as a Singer.

Singer Websites

The Modern Vocalist World – This site provides its members with discussion forums where they can discuss technique, training, gear and vocal health, as well as receive feedback on their singing from other members. A discounted rate is available when purchasing a yearly membership.

Harmony Central – This site provides its members with a free discussion forum about everything singing-related, along with a large collection of articles, expert reviews on various instruments and equipment and industry news.

All Things Vocal – This blog is written by Judy Rodman, an award-winning vocal coach. It focuses on tips for improving your singing technique, industry insights and interviews with professionals ranging from voice actors to physicians.

Singers on LinkedIn

Musicians, Singers, Songwriters, Recording Artists – With over 54,000 members, this group is a great place to communicate with music industry professionals of all kinds.

A Slice of Singing – This group of more than 7,000 members is exclusively dedicated to everything in the realm of singing and vocal work. Here you’ll find advice, recommendations and discussions.

Singer Books

The Ultimate Guide to Singing – This book is specifically catered to those who want to pursue singing as a career rather than a hobby. It contains practical information such as advice on booking gigs, fundamental vocal techniques and tips for wowing an audience.

The Contemporary Singer – With topics ranging from vocal workouts to performance anxiety to microphone technique, this book is a valuable technical resource for Singers of all skill levels.

The information in this article comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job postings and other online sources.

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