What can I do with a music degree?

Studying music at university prepares you for a wide variety of graduate careers as well as performing or composition, from jobs in the creative industries to teaching and working with children.

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Music may be your passion, but it’s not the only career you can pursue after you graduate with a music degree. Whether you’d like to make a living from your knowledge of music or explore different options, this guide should help you think about the skills your degree has given you and the jobs they can be applied to. You’ll also find out about the careers creative arts students aspire to and the types of jobs performing arts graduates are working in six months after leaving university.

Skills for your CV

Specific skills you will have gained from your degree in music include:

  • communication
  • memory and concentration
  • teamwork
  • the ability to perform under pressure
  • planning and organisation
  • self-discipline
  • critical thinking
  • IT skills

Job roles and career areas you could work in

Composing or performing music isn’t the only way you can put your music degree to good use, though you are likely to need further qualifications or training. Music graduates would be well suited to the following jobs:

Music graduates may also be attracted to careers as sound technicians, broadcasting engineers or events or music venue managers.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the transferable skills listed above are applicable to a huge variety of career paths. Many jobs are open to graduates from any discipline, although you may need to gain relevant work experience alongside your degree or after graduation.

What do creative arts graduates go on to do?

Here’s what creative arts and design graduates who finished their degrees in 2018 were doing around 15 months after graduating, according to the graduate outcomes statistics reported by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) in 2020.

Destination Percentage
Full-time employment 47
Part-time employment 25
Voluntary or unpaid work 2
Working and studying 9
Further study 4
Unemployed 5

Source: HESA's higher education graduate outcomes statistics, 2020

Key areas of employment for creative arts graduates

These are the top five areas of work taken up by 2018 creative arts and design graduates around 15 months after graduation, according to the graduate outcomes statistics reported by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) in 2020.

Areas of employment Percentage
Wholesale and retail trade 18
Arts, entertainment and recreation 17
Education 14
Professional, scientific and technical 12
Information and communication 11

Source: HESA's higher education graduate outcomes statistics, 2020

Which careers attract creative arts students?

Media and advertising was the most popular career choice for creative arts and design students identified by a 2020 survey of more than 71,000 undergraduates carried out by Cibyl, a research business owned by the same company as TARGETjobs. Just over one in ten (10.9%) of students of creative arts and design, a group of subjects that includes music, who participated in the survey said they were interested in this area. The most popular careers for creative arts and design students were as follows:

Career Percentage
Media and advertising 10.9% expressed an interest
Retail 10.5
Hospitality, leisure and tourism 8.7
IT and technology 7.2
Public sector 6.2

Source: Graduate Survey 2020

Famous people with music degrees

If none of the above appeals to you, there are plenty of other options available. Consider the following celebrities who have music degrees:

  • James May – the former Top Gear presenter attended Lancaster University.
  • John Williams – studied piano at the Julliard School before going on to compose music for films including Jurassic Park.
  • James Horner – the composer behind Titanic’s score studied at the University of Southern California.

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