Job type

Music conductor

£20k - £60k

Typical salary

37 – 45

Hours per week

Music conductors lead orchestras and guide them to play music with expression and perfect timing.

More info

  • Lead an orchestra or other musical group as they perform for an audience
  • You'll need excellent musical knowledge and the ability to communicate with your body
  • Most conductors work as freelancers and are paid by the performance

As a music conductor you'll work with orchestras and other musical groups to interpret the music, keep them together, and guide them to create expression in the music they are playing.


  • Work with a piece of music to understand each element of it and will then use their hands, eyes, and body language to communicate with members of the orchestra during rehearsals and performances
  • You'll learn to express yourself clearly to others using non-verbal cues during a performance
  • You'll take overall responsibility for the final performance by the musicians.


You'll spend time working with different orchestras at different venues and will usually need to travel extensively to different performances.

You'll need

To become a conductor you'll first need to develop your musical ability and knowledge. Most conductors play one or more instruments and many will play or have played in orchestras themselves. Studying for a qualification like a degree in music is a good way to start.

You'll develop an understanding of all aspects of music including pitch, tempo, and the way that the different instruments work together to create the final output.

You might also start to build up your experience by volunteering to act as a conductor or musical director for amateur productions. This will help you learn your craft and to understand the performance environment.

Most people gradually move into conductor positions after working in the industry for some time, and so it's important to embed yourself in the industry and build up a network of contacts as roles are often unadvertised.


Some conductors combine conducting with other work like performing or teaching, but those who are highly successful and in demand may make this their full time role. Most conductors are freelancers and will be paid by the performance.