Music Conductors and Directors

Conductor Leads Orchestra

Music conductors direct large groups of musicians or singers in the performance of a piece of music. There are various types of conductors, including those who lead symphony orchestras, dance bands, marching bands, and choral groups. They use their hands, a baton, or both to indicate the musical sound variations and timing of a composition. Their chief concern is their interpretation of how a piece of music should be played. They are responsible for rehearsing the orchestra and auditioning musicians for positions in the ensemble.

Conductors must have the complete respect of the musicians they lead. The great conductors have a personal charisma that awes both musician and listener alike. Conductors are unique in the modern musical world in that they make no sound themselves yet control the sound that others make. The orchestra is their instrument. Music conductors sometimes carry the title of music director, which implies a wider area of responsibilities, including administrative and managerial duties. Approximately 21,540 music directors and composers are employed in the United States.

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Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) None
Duties Music conductors prepare and conduct orchestras; music directors are conductors who have additional administrative and managerial duties
Salary Range Below $25,000 to $100,000+
Work Environment Primarily Indoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Major cultural cities and urban areas
Minimum Education Level
  • High School Diploma
School Subjects
  • Music
  • Speech
  • Theater/Dance
Experience Several years' experience required
Personality Traits
  • Creative
  • Organized
  • Outgoing
  • Leadership
  • Organizational
  • Performance
  • Music
  • and Acting
Certification or Licensing None
Special Requirements None
Employment Prospects Fair
Advancement Prospects Fair
Outlook Little Change or More Slowly than the Average
Career Ladder
  • Director or Conductor of Major Orchestra
  • Director or Conductor
  • Assistant Director or Conductor