Music means different things to different people – it can inspire, drive, and heal in all kinds of ways. Whether on a car radio, on a dance floor, or in a therapy room, the power of music is indisputable. If you believe in the life-changing potential of music and want to make it your life’s work, consider a music-related career such as disc jockeying or music therapy!
Becoming a disc jockey can be an excellent choice for those who eat, breathe, and sleep music. Broadly, there are two categories of disc jockeys: radio and club. Radio disc jockeys handle the broadcasting of music (scripted or live) on radio stations. They have various responsibilities: running the program smoothly, providing commentary, conducting interviews and contests, and working in sync with directors, editors, and technicians. Club disc jockeys are in charge of music at clubs and other party venues. They play music from extensively compiled playlists with the aim of getting people to dance and have a good time. They may also take on jobs at weddings, restaurants, etc. The average median wage for a disc jockey is USD 27,750, but salaries in this field can vary dramatically. While a new entrant may have to work for free, top earners take home millions. The top ten disc jockeys in the world (including Calvin Harris and David Guetta) earned a total of USD 268 million this past year.
This profession is not for the easily daunted as disc jockeying success can take a lot of time and perseverance. Those who want to work in radio broadcasting should consider an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in radio broadcasting, journalism, or communications. Some schools offer students internship opportunities at local radio stations – a great way to gain practical experience! The path to becoming a club disc jockey is slightly different. It is not critical to have formal education in this field, although it can certainly prove helpful. Many aspirants start out by assisting established disc jockeys, learning skills and building networks along the way. Others teach themselves the skills, through short courses or online tutorials.
Music therapists, on the other hand, focus on improving emotional, mental, and physical health through music. They work in camps for kids with special needs, rehabilitation clinics, child care and foster care facilities, prisons, and healthcare settings. The aim is to help people cope with physical limitations, achieve personal goals, and combat pain and depression. Budding music therapists need to complete a bachelor’s degree in music therapy or in music with a focus on music therapy, along with 1,200 clinical hours. After graduating, you can sit for the certification exam. Aspiring researchers or teachers should complete a master’s degree program in music therapy.
If you want to be a music therapist, you can choose from among the many world-class music therapy programs offered by schools in the US. The University of the Pacific offers accredited music therapy degrees, with opportunities for scholarships and part-time employment opportunities during the master’s degree program. Anna Maria College offers a bachelor’s degree program in music therapy, which combines coursework and clinical hours to prepare students for a successful career. Georgia College’s undergraduate music therapy program is in the mentor-apprentice tradition, boasting a low student-to-teacher ratio and a world-class music therapy clinic where students can watch professional practitioners at work and develop their own skills. The school also offers an online master’s in music therapy degree program. Other reputed schools include the Berklee College of Music, New York University, and the University of Miami.