A music degree is ideal preparation for careers in the music industry and the arts, but can also equip you with skills that are highly valued in sectors as diverse as education and finance.
As a music student you are likely to be studying a subject you love and be highly motivated by musical performance. You may wish to pursue career options which are directly related to music and/or performance, in which case you are very well-placed.
Alternatively, there are a wide range of career options open to you and graduates have followed diverse career pathways in recent years.
What skills will I gain during my degree?
In addition to your subject knowledge and performance skills, a music degree equips you with key employability skills which you can apply to a wide variety of professional fields.
A music graduate will typically have the ability to:
- use professional communication skills developed through performing and engaging listeners
- collaborate with others through participation in orchestras, ensembles, quartets and bands
- deal with, and reflect on, critical feedback striving for improved performance
- demonstrate powers of memory, physical dexterity and concentration
- demonstrate creativity and innovation in responding to new musical ideas
- work with digital platforms to create and record music
- exercise independent thought, judgement, and skills in critical reasoning
- plan and organise through managing performances
It is important that you can talk about these skills on application forms and during interviews.
What are my career options?
Did you know that 70% of jobs requiring a degree do not specify a particular subject?
In recent years, music graduates have gone into varied professional fields, including:
- musical performance and practice
- education including private tuition
- administrative roles in arts authorities and educational institutions
- learning support roles in arts venues
- music publishing
- arts administration
- management with orchestras and concert venues
- media including journalism
- retail management
- finance professions and marketing
It is true to say that many graduates of music (and other subjects) take some time building their career through a series of roles to get to a specific career where they want to be or even to decide what job suits them.
This could be due to a variety of reasons, for example:
- the sector they want to enter requires an entry-level position (for example: heritage, media roles and publishing), or
- they are saving up to fund a postgraduate course or travel and therefore their first destination is a stopgap
Other music graduates may develop a ‘portfolio’ career of gigs, freelance work, and part-time employment.
Career paths - explore roles and sectors
Prospects - career options and job profiles
Read stories from Nottingham alumni
What are my further study options?
More than 25% of music graduates go onto further study. Some choose a masters course related to their first degree while others choose different subjects, for example a conversion course or professional training courses in areas such as teaching and law.
Postgraduate study or training can allow you to:
- develop your skills and current subject knowledge further
- enter certain careers by building expertise in a specific subject
- switch careers, by training or building skills in a new subject
It's important to understand your reasons for studying at postgraduate level and to research opportunities and the value of postgraduate study in your sector before applying.
Masters funding is available (eligibility criteria exists) in the form of a postgraduate loan, but you can only access this funding once hence the importance of choosing your course carefully. If you'd like to talk this through with an adviser, arrange an appointment to speak to us.
Careers blog: Thinking About Postgraduate Study?
Find out more about further study
How can I build my skills and experience?
The opportunities listed are primarily aimed at current students living in the Nottingham area. If you are well into your final year, graduated or are no longer in Nottingham, you can access work and volunteering options in your home area.
Depending on your location and what you want to do, your strategy to develop your skills and experience may vary. You are welcome to have a chat with us, so just arrange an appointment.
Work experience and volunteering
Depending on what area of work or role you might be interested in, and where, there will be specific strategies, from speculative applications to formal processes you need to be familiar with.
Work experience - what, how and when
Nottingham Internship Scheme
We work closely with a huge variety of local and national businesses to bring you an exciting range of internship opportunities, for both current students and recent graduates.
Nottingham Consultancy Challenge
The Nottingham Consultancy Challenge offers the chance for you to gain hands-on experience of managing a short term project for a local business or charity as part of a multi-disciplinary team.
Nottingham Advantage Award
The Nottingham Advantage Award offers interesting extracurricular modules to develop and reflect on your employability. With over more than 200 modules across our three campus in the UK, China and Malaysia.
The Students’ Union offers a wide range of volunteering options both locally and internationally which you can fit around your studies.
Alternatively you could get involved in a society or sports club - there's so many, you're bound to find one that interests you!
Working with young people
There are three initiatives which will give you the opportunity to work in a local educational setting. These initiatives support the academic attainment and raise the aspirations of primary and secondary pupils, whilst developing the skills and employability of those involved.
These are excellent opportunities for students considering teaching, youth work or community engagement as a career.
Exchange programmes overseas
Undertake an exchange semester in another country and broaden your horizons. Talk to your tutors and find out more about the programmes available from the International Office.
Optional placement year
You can now undertake an optional placement year as part of your degree at the end of your penultimate year of study. The placement can be aligned to your degree discipline or related to your career aspirations. Speak to a career adviser or your school for more information.
If you are no longer at Nottingham, you can access work and volunteering opportunities at home. Depending on your location and what you want to do, your strategy may vary so come and speak to us or arrange a telephone appointment.
Developing your digital skills
Digital skills are highly valued by employers. Develop your skills through volunteering, online courses through Google or providers such as FutureLearn, or by getting involved in the Digital Marketing Academy.
If you're not sure where to start, begin by assessing your digital capability and identifying your next steps.
Please be aware that study abroad, compulsory year abroad, optional placements/internships and integrated year in industry opportunities may change at any time for a number of reasons, including curriculum developments, changes to arrangements with partner universities or placement/industry hosts, travel restrictions or other circumstances outside of the university's control. Every effort will be made to update this information as quickly as possible should a change occur.
How can I prepare for making job applications?
We can help you with all stages of the application, from reviewing your CV and/or application form to interview coaching and assessment centre practice.
Many graduate recruiters also use psychometric tests during the recruitment and selection process. They are common across all sectors and career fields. Practise will really help your performance.
How can I enhance my digital skills?
Digital skills are essential in many career fields, including advertising, publishing, marketing, and general commerce. They range from social media to coding and will definitely enhance your employability. There are various ways to develop your digital skills whilst at university.
Music specific resources