How To Become a Music Teacher (Including FAQs)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 2 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you're passionate about music and sharing your passion with others, you may want to become a music teacher. A music teacher is an educator focused on teaching students about musical theory and how to apply it. Understanding the education and skills music teachers need can help you decide if this career suits you. In this article, we explain how to become a music teacher, what music teachers do, and the skills they need to succeed.

How to become a music teacher

To become a music teacher, study music and education before securing checks that show you can safely work with children. Follow these steps to become a music teacher:

Related: How To Become a Teacher (Including FAQs)

1. Complete year 12 of high school, or equivalent

Graduating year 12 with enough units for your secondary school certificate and Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) is the easiest first step to becoming a music teacher. As they are prerequisite subjects for relevant degrees, study English, mathematics and music in years 11 and 12 to prepare for your tertiary education.

If you decide to become a music teacher after leaving school early or your ATAR is lower than expected, a vocational course can prepare you for university. You could get a general qualification preparing you for university, such as a Certificate IV in Tertiary Preparation. You could also get a vocational qualification in music, such as a certificate or diploma in music industry (music business), music industry (music performance) or music industry (sound production). Your vocational qualifications can make you eligible for a university degree. In some cases you can transfer credits from vocational qualifications to a degree program.

2. Pass Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB) exams

Sitting AMEB exams in multiple years is usually a prerequisite or strongly recommended for music degrees. Even if you plan on completing a general education or teaching degree, sitting AMEB exams provides a good foundation for your music subjects. Consider sitting practical exams for your preferred instrument and music theory exams.

3. Obtain character checks

Get a National Police Check and a Working with Children check to take part in work placement programs during your education or teaching degree. Contact the police service in your state or territory for a National Police Check. This check shows your criminal history and police record, except any spent conviction. Your Working With Children check, or the equivalent, shows you have a clean criminal record that makes you a safe person for children to interact with. Get these checks from the relevant government body in your state or territory, such as the Department of Justice or the Department of Human Services.

Note how long your checks last. You may need to renew your checks during your degree to make sure they're valid during your work placements.

Related: Jobs That Involve Working With Children

4. Get university degrees focused on education and music

To work as a music teacher, you'll need university qualifications in education and music. Most people complete a Bachelor of Education (Primary), Bachelor of Education (Secondary) or Bachelor of Teaching focusing on music or performing arts subjects. Alternatively, you could complete two separate degrees. For example, you might get a Bachelor of Music or a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Music), then complete a Master of Education or Master of Teaching. University requirements for music degrees vary, but you may need to do one or more of the following to enrol:

  • Submit a portfolio of your work

  • Attend an audition or interview

  • Pass a music theory exam

5. Secure provisional registration

After graduating from university, get provisional registration to start working as a music teacher in your state or territory. Once you have your provisional registration, you can start working towards your full registration. You can get your provisional registration from the relevant body in your state or territory:

  • New South Wales: NSW Education Standards Authority

  • Australian Capital Territory: Teacher Quality Institute

  • Queensland: Queensland College of Teachers

  • Victoria: Victorian Institute of Teaching

  • South Australia: Teachers Registration Board of South Australia

  • Tasmania: Teachers Registration Board of Tasmania

  • Northern Territory: Teacher Registration Board of the Northern Territory

  • Western Australia: Teacher Registration Board of Western Australia

6. Get music teaching experience

While on your provisional registration, you should complete a minimum number of days of teaching experience while meeting the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. You can apply for your full registration as soon as you complete the required number of teaching hours. However, if it takes longer for you to complete your teaching hours, you may need to apply for an extension or reapply for your provisional registration. The provisional registration periods and minimum teaching days, when applicable, are:

  • New South Wales: 160 days experience over three years for full-time teachers and five years for part-time teachers

  • Australian Capital Territory: 180 days experience over five years

  • Queensland: 200 days experience over two years

  • Victoria: 80 days experience over two years

  • South Australia: 200 days experience over five years

  • Tasmania: 185 days experience over five years

  • Northern Territory: 180 days over five years

  • Western Australia: 100 days over five years

Your official body may recommend or require participation in professional learning opportunities. These sessions teach you more about the latest developments in the educational industry.

Related: Common Interview Questions for Teachers

7. Upgrade to full teacher registration

After completing your teaching days and professional learning hours, upgrade from provisional registration to full registration. The process for upgrading your registration varies, but it usually involves:

  • Submitting an application to transition to full registration

  • Getting assessed in the classroom by an experienced teacher

  • Submitting documents to your state or territory board showing how you've met the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

8. Join the Australian Music Teachers Register

Joining the Australian Music Teachers Register helps prospective students find you online. It's a free national registry for all kinds of music teachers, including teachers offering face-to-face and online lessons. Registering is optional, although it helps private music teachers and school teachers offering private lessons outside school hours connect with more students.

Common duties for music teachers

Music teachers inspire and develop student's practical music skills and knowledge. Their common duties include:

  • Planning and leading classes teaching students how to play instruments, sing and compose music

  • Planning and leading classes about musical theory and history

  • Issuing and marking assignments and exams to test musical skills and knowledge

  • Organising student bands and choir rehearsals and performances

  • Organising music-related excursions, including trips to concerts and musical theatre performances

  • Participating in staff meetings and development days

  • Providing feedback about students at parent-teacher interviews

Skills that music teachers need

Music teachers need the following skills to connect with students and help them develop their musical knowledge and skills:

  • Technical skills with at least one musical instrument

  • Organisation to organise excursions and extra-curricular activities, track student progress and lesson plan for each class

  • Communication, including the ability to give clear instructions and explain musical concepts in simple terms

  • Self-management to remain calm and positive when dealing with students of all abilities

  • Problem-solving to adjust teaching methods to help students master challenging topics

FAQs about becoming a music teacher

Here are the answers to common questions about becoming a music teacher.

How long does it take to become a music teacher?

It takes at least four years after graduating high school to become a music teacher. This is how long it takes to complete an accredited education or teaching degree with full-time study. Leaving high school before year 12, completing a music degree before pursuing a postgraduate degree in education and studying part-time can all make the process longer.

Is it hard to become a music teacher?

Enrolling in an education degree usually requires an ATAR in the low to high 60s. This is slightly less than the average ATAR of around 70, so this course of study is accessible for many students. However, you'll also need a good knowledge of musical theory and some practical musical talent to secure work after graduation. Music comes naturally to some people, but it can be challenging for others.

After graduating, predicted job growth should make securing work as a music teacher relatively easy. However, competition for teaching roles in capital cities can be fierce, so you may find securing work in a regional location easier.

Related: What Jobs Are in Demand in Australia? (With Examples)

What is the average salary of a music teacher?

The average salary for a music teacher is $36.71 per hour. Salaries can vary depending on a music teacher's experience, education, location and employer.

Can you be a music teacher without a degree?

You need a degree to teach music through schools. However, you can teach music privately without a degree. This usually requires a high degree of musical ability. Experience as a performer in the music industry can also help you succeed as a private teacher.

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Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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