Careers in Music

By Ethan Moser - Last update

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What is Music? 

Music is a universally recognizable form of communication and personal expression. Students pursuing careers in music will study anything from performance and composition to sound design and music education. 

What 3rd Level Courses are Available? 

  • Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering courses in the following subject areas: 
    • Music Education – the study of the mechanics of music and music theory for application in a classroom or academic setting.
    • Performance – the practice of a particular musical instrument specifically for application in performance in concerts, recordings, etc. 
    • Sound Design – the study of producing sound and music for theatrical productions. 

Studying Music in College

Most first year study involves an overview of the subject. This will offer students an introduction to the foundational principles of music, including music theory, history, performance, and musicianship. 

Depending on the focus of their music studies, students will likely move from exam-based modules to more hands-on production and performance modules. Most performing arts courses will combine exams, written assessments, dissertations, recitals, and concerts as benchmark assessments for students. 

Most undergraduate Music courses in Ireland run for three or four years. In some cases universities will facilitate work or internship experience as a facet of their program. 

It is common that all performing arts-based courses will require students to complete long-term research or performance projects including a final Capstone project. This will ensure the completion of a rigorous curriculum and prepare students for postgraduate studies or for their careers in Music. 

A bachelor’s degree in Music studies is adequate for many careers in the music industry. For example, graduates with a bachelor’s degree may start working in music education, music theory, and arts administration. 

Career Options

Graduating from college with a degree in Music will serve you well as it equips you with a unique and marketable skill set. A performing arts degree teaches students how to think both critically and creatively as well as equipping them with invaluable performance and communication skills. 

Many recent graduates have entered into ‘entry-level’ careers in Music working as educators, performers, and arts administrators. 

Other jobs that require a higher degree of responsibility will typically require further education, training, and/or experience to qualify for. 

Related Jobs Include:

  • Performer / Recording Artist
  • Journalist
  • Media Consultant
  • Arts Administrator
  • Music Educator
  • Musical Therapist
  • Music Historian
  • Sound Designer / Technician
  • Musicologist
  • Composer / Song-writer

Further Study

An undergraduate degree in music studies is often the first step towards further postgraduate study. Postgraduate students will often specialize in their preferred instrument, genre, or period of music history for this secondary degree. 

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  • What points do I need to study Music?
    • Different courses and different colleges will have different entry requirements. It’s always best that you check with the individual higher education institution which is available on their websites. As a general rule Leaving Cert students should have a minimum of six subjects which should include: Two H5 (Higher Level) grades and Four O6 (Ordinary Level) grades or Four H7 (Higher Level) grades. Subjects must include Mathematics, English, Irish or another language. Some universities also suggest that students pursuing careers in music have a grade H4 in Leaving Cert Music or the equivalent of grade 5 ABRSM Music Theory. 
  • Are there any particular qualities you need to study Music?
    • Students interested in careers in music will need to be passionate about music and its impact on society as well as be interested in developing, producing, or performing music. Additional students will need to be innovative, driven, creative, and collaborative. 
  • Where can I study Music?
    • Explore your options here

Did You Know?

  • In 2016, Mozart sold more CDs than Adele, Beyonce, and Drake despite the fact that all of these artists won a Grammy award that same year!
  • In 2014 a group of researchers at The Museum of Science and Industry found that the song “Wannabee” by The Spice Girls was the ‘catchiest’ song of all time, taking an average of 2.3 seconds for listeners to recognize!
  • Astronaut Chris Hadfield released his first album in 2015. The album, titled Space Sessions: Songs for a Tin Can was recorded entirely in space while Hadfield was aboard that International Space Station!


Ethan Moser

Computer Game Design
Music Technology


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