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Musician (instrumental)

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Summary of occupation

Musicians play musical instruments to entertain an audience. Depending on their area of specialisation, they may write, arrange, perform and conduct music compositions. While there are many areas of music to work in, from studying its history to performing jazz or opera, musicians tend to specialise in a particular musical instrument or style of music. Despite this, they need to be flexible. For example, they may perform solo in an open air concert of a few hundred people in Kings Park, and then perform with a group of other musicians for a gallery opening in Subiaco.

ANZSCO description: Entertains by playing one or more musical instruments. This occupation requires high levels of creative talent or personal commitment and interest as well as, or in place of, formal qualifications or experience.
Alternative names: Instrumentalist
Specialisations: Classical Musician, Composer, Drummer, Ethnomusicologist, Guitarist, Jazz Musician, Music Conductor, Musicologist, Pianist, Violinist, Vocalist (Singer)
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A musician needs:

  • musical ability and talent
  • technical skill in their area of specialisation
  • perseverance and determination to succeed in a very competitive industry
  • stamina to perform at their best for long periods of time
  • confidence in front of an audience
  • good time management and flexibility
  • an ability to work and perform in a group
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Working conditions

Musicians perform in designated performance spaces, such as theaters or concert halls, as well as pubs, clubs, hotels or, when hired for smaller functions, at private dwellings. They must be prepared to work irregular hours, spend a great deal of time practicing, and may need to seek additional employment to support themselves. Many musicians supplement their income by teaching music.

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Salary details

On average, musicians can expect to earn between $877 and $1 030 per week ($45 599 and $53 555 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a musician develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

Earnings for instrumental musicians can vary considerably depending on their level of experience, their negotiated contract, the quality and the commercial potential of their work, and the demand for their work. As an instrumental musician develops their skills and reputation, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Musicians use more technology than just their musical instruments. They also utilize microphones, amplifiers, speakers, lighting, music stands, and other equipment used for performance or recording. They must also be very aware of their public presentation and may be required to wear costumes, uniforms or make-up. Musicians may require a car or van to transport their instruments and equipment.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become an instrumental musician you usually need to complete formal qualifications in your chosen musical field, however, some musicians are self-taught.

VET courses in music are offered at TAFE Colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.

You can also complete a degree majoring in music or music studies.

Some universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Most courses require an audition and you may be required to demonstrate a high level of musical proficiency.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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