Piano jobs are the ultimate dream for some people. There are many people out there who are making a living doing something related to playing the piano. It can feel like a pipe dream for some people and there are lots of people who will want to tell you that you can’t make a living out of playing the piano. However, there are a number of piano jobs that might be suitable for you to work towards and some are far more realistic than others.
Not everyone who learns how to play the piano can go on to be in world-famous bands. This is just not realistic, but you might not want that, and being able to make a living from your instrument might be your only dream. You may never have Elton John’s bank balance, but that’s not why we start playing the instrument we all love!
The Top Consideration for Piano Jobs
One thing that anyone who is thinking about getting a job playing the piano (or related to playing the piano) needs to consider is the fact that piano jobs aren’t often the steadiest employment.
For example, some of the jobs related to piano might only require you to be there once a week. For example, if you are an event pianist and the events are only at weekends. However, this shouldn’t put you off altogether.
There are many ways to make it work, and all the extra time you might be left with if you undertake some of these piano jobs can still be put to good use. You can combine different ways of making money with your musicianship.
If you think of the stereotypical family, when it comes to the time to choose a career path, parents often advise people to go for more steady jobs. Things where they know they will be able to find employment one way or the other. With piano, this is sometimes not the case. You can have periods of being very busy and periods of being very quiet, with not as much income. A lot of the jobs require self-employment which can be daunting for some people.
The good news is that we also live in an age where piano jobs and opportunities are easier to find than ever, and the internet has even created some new musical jobs that nobody could have foreseen 20 years ago.
On to some of the top piano jobs out there, be warned that there are so many different routes you can go down, so we might not have covered every variation of every job, but these should still give you a good general idea.
This sounds like an unusual place to start, but it is actually one of the most popular career options. The few people who get to a professional level playing this beautiful and historic instrument will want to keep the art of piano going and ensure that the next generation are taught.
Piano teachers can earn good money. Our guide to how much piano lessons cost shows roughly what you could potentially expect to charge though this can vary depending on where you are based. Some piano teachers have full-time employment within a school or college while others work on an individual basis and charge per lesson.
This incredible guide to becoming a music teacher can help those who are considering this for a career. There is a common misconception that teaching piano means that you have somehow failed in the other careers, this is definitely not the case and many piano teachers are well off, and also have plenty of time to work on their musical skills and even have a second career.
Piano teaching can be one of the more flexible piano jobs. Some people teach online or just in the local area, and you can plan your time around what else you have on. Teaching piano can also be incredibly fulfilling, as you think of all the people whose lives you might impact and help.
You need to be patient for this particular career, but there are many advantages and you can have a lot of fun.
If you are interested in the mental health benefits that music can have then learning to play the piano can be one of the first steps towards becoming a music therapist.
Music therapy is a job that combines the use of music and audio stimulation, and sometimes making music, with cognitive forms of therapy that can help people’s mental health. You need to have a lot of experience and a number of qualifications for this as you will need to be able to prove the fact that you are musically talented as well as being able to deal with stressful situations and peoples’ mental struggles.
This is another of the piano jobs that can be incredibly fulfilling as you can help people get through the issues they are facing in their lives. Be prepared to spend a lot of time studying for this career, but experience in music therapy does potentially qualify you to go into other forms of therapy in the future, and use piano on the side.
You probably won’t become a piano player to spend a lot of time tuning, but it is a skill that you can gain as a pianist that will lead to you having an income no matter what else you do in your life.
Though a lot of people are playing digital pianos, there are still loads of acoustic pianos out there and we think there always will be. A couple of times a year, they need to be tuned. You can earn decent money doing this job. If you build up a list of clients who regularly need their piano tuned then you can also turn it into quite a steady career.
Ok, so you don’t dream of becoming a piano tuner, but it is a skill that is in demand. Some of the other piano skills can be patchy and not lead to being employed all through the year.
Piano tuners will often be self-employed and manage their own diaries, too. This means that you can still do other jobs and even make money out of your instrument in other ways.
Naturally tuning the piano is not the same as playing, and while being able to play will help, you still will have to learn quite a lot more information about your instrument to become a piano tuner. One of the benefits of this is the fact you can tune your own instrument, too. Not the most glamorous of piano jobs, but certainly worth considering.
Session musicians lend their experience to recording or performance projects. Think about bands and artists who have a lot of instruments on their songs, but do not actually play the piano. They need session musicians. Someone like Madonna or Billie Eilish might have 5-10 musicians on stage even though they are a solo artist. These are session musicians.
This can be quite a lucrative career, especially if you go on tour with some musicians. A session musician’s work is usually split into a couple of different categories:
- Live work. Learning the back-catalog of a singer or other performer and then going on tour with them, or even playing one-off events. If you are a talented pianist then this can be a relatively simple task. A lot of pop music won’t be overly challenging, so if you play with a rock or pop outfit then a tour is a chance to enjoy yourself, see more of the world and also make a living out of your musical instrument.
- Studio work. Songs that have been written or at least sketched out by a composer might then need a musician to record these ideas, and sometimes even add their own input to a song that is being created.
Session musicians are usually employed due to their reliability and the fact that they are experienced and not likely to miss a beat. A session musician is normally expected to just get on with their job, steer clear of mistakes and make the job of a performer or studio engineer much simpler.
At a high level, this can be a very high-paying career, and one of the better piano jobs in terms of income. There is always a demand for people that meet the strict requirements of being a session musician.
Have you ever been to a wedding or a dinner where you have a pianist in the room playing background music? This is one of the piano jobs that you can end up considering if you get to the point where you can play to a high standard.
Event pianists see spikes in their demand, for example, during the wedding season or around Christmas for work events. A lot of the work is evenings and weekends, which can be a nightmare for some people, but actually, it might leave you free to do other things during the week. For example, if you dream of being a film composer you can potentially use your time during the week to work on this.
Being an event pianist can pay pretty well, but it is best if you can sight-read as this will reduce the amount you have to prepare for the events. If you don’t like dressing smartly, you might also not enjoy this job quite as much, as you will inevitably have to look very respectable if you are playing at weddings and other events.
For someone who just enjoys playing the piano for hours on end, this can be an ideal way to earn an income. The hourly rate of pay can also be very appealing.
If you want to be an event pianist, you might find that there are some longer-term gigs that you can end up with, that bring a bit more stability to your career. Some end up working with hotels and fancy bars and restaurants, others end up on cruise ships! Some cruise ships have a pianist in their restaurants or even forming part of their performance and entertainment team. Get ready to travel the world!
This will require your skills to be absolutely exceptional, but it is certainly an option for those who are serious about piano.
If you get to the point where you can play classical compositions with ease, and cope with the rigors of performing in front of a big crowd then you might want to become a concert pianist.
You shouldn’t be under any illusions with this one. Being a concert pianist takes a serious amount of skill. You will probably have to start your journey when you are young and have an incredible amount of discipline. This fantastic video shows some of what it entails.
As you can imagine, it is a long road to get to the top of your discipline and become a sought-after concert pianist. There can be a number of years doing some of the other jobs on this list before you get to the point where people will pay to watch you perform. However, if this is your life goal then there is no better time to go for it. The amount of information out there and the connection to new opportunities is beneficial for new musicians. Many piano jobs are hard to get into, but it is fair to say that this is one of the absolute toughest.
This is another of the piano jobs that many people dream of doing, but might struggle to understand exactly how it works. Composing songs is difficult anyway, but getting to the point when these songs are actually used or become popular is even tougher.
We’re not interested in telling people what they can’t achieve. If a pianist sets his or her mind to it, there is no reason why being a composer should be out of reach.
Of course, the bad news is that this is an incredibly sought-after position. It is hard to get a big break and even harder to consistently perform and have people pay you to make music for bands, television shows or other uses. However, let’s look on the bright side too…
There is more media made than there ever has been. Composers aren’t just needed for a few Hollywood films or a couple of ads for television, there is the opportunity to compose for corporate videos, to make music to go in adverts on YouTube, or to compose bespoke pieces of music for anyone who needs one. YouTubers, for example, may work with composers to make jingles or idents.
You might have to be a bit creative if this is your choice of piano jobs. If you expect Spielberg to call you up and ask you to help on his upcoming movie then you are probably going to be disappointed. Start small, and work with local radio stations, YouTubers and find opportunities to build a portfolio. You have to trust that if you are good enough you will get to the top of your game.
It also helps if you have some sort of production skills. Learn how to use a DAW and program drums and other instruments if you want to be a well-rounded musician. This will open up a lot of opportunities besides just composing piano music.
Ask anyone under the age of 18 what they want to be when they’re older and there is a fair chance they will say “a YouTuber” as if it is the easiest thing in the world! Getting a break as a YouTuber and actually gaining popularity is really tough, but if you have the piano skills then there is no reason why you can’t get people to pay attention.
David Bennett is an example of an incredible piano player with an incredible YouTube following. One of his videos can be found below:
Though Bennett takes the approach of explaining the mechanics of music and how music works, there are a lot of different approaches you can take. Creating tutorials or inventive cover versions is another good way to try and get a following on the platform.
How do you make money out of YouTube? This article explains it really well, and shows roughly what some YouTubers may be making. There are opportunities besides the revenue that YouTube may pay their partners, though. It can be a great way to provide you with a platform to show off your skills and gain a reputation as a musician.
Piano Store Manager or Music Store Staff Member
This might not seem like the most glamorous of jobs for pianists but it is a relatively steady career and a good place to start. If you know a lot about the piano, and play the piano to a high standard then it can be a good place to work, as you can help people on their journey to choose the right instrument.
A lot of good music stores or piano stores also have a really great community around them. If you embrace this then other opportunities might come from working in a piano store.
For the more entrepreneurial people out there you might even want to start your own musical instrument store. You can even specialize in second-hand instruments if you wish, as pianos can hold their value very well. Fun piano restoration projects might be just around the corner!
If you’d rather spend all of your time playing the instrument then this is arguably not the best job for you, but if you love pianos and everything that goes with owning one then a music store or piano store could be a great employer. Plus, unlike some jobs, you can be fairly confident of an income each month.
Jobs That Appeal to Musicians
There are a number of other jobs that appeal to musicians that might not directly stem from your piano skills, but if you are an established pianist already then you might find them easier.
There are a lot of jobs out there that might be suitable. We’ve briefly listed some of these that might spark your interest:
- Event promoter. Putting on events and promoting them to the public, you can find that this is a lot of fun, but don’t expect it to be stress-free, as a lot goes into putting on events. You can put on events that have a piano theme to them if you like.
- Instrument technician. Instruments need to be maintained and looked after. Some schools, colleges and event venues will have a specific tech team dedicated to this.
- Music venue staff. Whether it’s on the technical side or not, being involved in music can be a very exciting prospect for people who love the piano.
- Instrument manufacturer and designer. If you reach the top of this game you might be making the next generation of instruments. If not, you’re bound to have some fun creating instruments for people to enjoy at home. This might involve some factory and assembly work, and you will probably have to be good with your hands.
- Music journalist. Covering new releases or events can be equally exciting for lovers of piano.
- Audio engineer or studio engineer. Why not channel your skills into the recording industry or even work on live events? If your knowledge stretches far beyond just playing the piano, and you have a good ear for music then this could be a good option.
Summary – Choosing Piano Jobs
As you can see from our list, you might have to be a little flexible at times. A lot of people who want to play the piano for a living are self-employed, or do it as a side-gig to make some extra money alongside another job. It can take a long time to reach the very top of any piano career, but if you are truly passionate about the instrument then it is worth working hard to get to the summit.