If you’re a music teacher, you may be wondering whether you’re paid above or below the ‘going rate’. You might even be looking to become a music teacher and want to establish how financially viable the career is. So, what is a typical music teacher salary? We’ve done some research and spoken to industry professionals to find out.
What does the data suggest?
The average salary for a music teacher fluctuates depending on which websites you visit. The data also depends on the sample size – the very high figures tend to be based on a smaller sample size.
Here is the data from every page 1 result on Google for the search term ‘music teacher salary’*:
- Reed: £37,761
- PayScale: £29,567
- Indeed: £30,320
- Glassdoor: £29,548
- Adzuna: £50,247
- Neuvoo: £35,821
- Totaljobs: £47,500
- Check-a-Salary: £35,768
*correct as of September 2020
Based on the average figure from these websites, a typical music teacher salary is £37,066 a year. This is nearly £7,000 more than the UK average salary of £30,420 a year. So, if the above figures are anything to go by, being a music teacher is a reasonably well-paid profession.
According to Adzuna, from August 2019 to July 2020, pay for music teacher jobs increased by 5.7% year-on-year, compared to an annual increase of 2.3% for all jobs. This shows that demand for music teachers is increasing at well above the national average rate.
What music teachers say
Marianne Rizkallah is the Director and Head Music Therapist for North London Music Therapy. As well as music therapy, the organisation provides therapeutic music lessons for adolescents and adults with special needs or mental health difficulties. It also runs online therapy sessions and music lessons.
She said: “For singing lessons I charge £45 an hour, or £35 for 45 minutes. This has been my rate for five years – I should have put my prices up by now as my experience increased, but because it’s not my main job I haven’t prioritised it. This figure was based on similar rates my musician friends were charging for their teaching.”
Where do music teachers get paid the most?
As with the above data, there is quite a lot of disparity in salaries based on who you ask.
When we browsed the various websites to look for music teacher vacancies, we uncovered some interesting findings. Here’s a summary of what we found…
This lists London as the best paid city for music teachers, with an average salary of £39,381 a year. Second to London was Leeds, with an average annual music teacher salary of £38,822. Completing the top 5 are Newcastle upon Tyne (£36,005), Leicester (£35,729) and Edinburgh (£35,659).
According to Adzuna’s analysis, the average annual music teacher salary in London is £40,706. Surprisingly, this is 12.9% less than the national average for music teacher salaries.
Adzuna lists the 5 highest paying areas for music teachers as:
- Hampshire (£51,032 a year)
- Hertfordshire (£50,543 a year)
- Essex (£47,698 a year)
- Kent (£46,811 a year)
- Greater Manchester (£44,146 a year)
However, some of these figures may need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Adzuna’s average salary is significantly higher than the other websites, which could be down to the fact it’s based on a small sample size.
Indeed, reports that the average annual salary for a music teacher in London is £33,184 in London, £29,581 in Manchester and £29,296 in Birmingham. However, this is based on a much smaller sample size than Check-a-Salary, which calculates music teacher salaries across multiple job websites.
At the time of writing, Reed’s website lists several music teacher jobs in London, Hertfordshire and Wales. The average annual salary for music teacher jobs in London is £44,261 compared to £43,242 for Hertfordshire and £43,191 for Wales. However, some of these jobs are temporary, so these figures are based on ‘per day’ salaries.
What music teachers say
Marianne Rizkallah: “When I started five years ago at £45 an hour, I felt I was slightly above the average going rate for where I live (North London). Now, though, I feel I am probably about the average rate.”
Simon Bennett is a guitar teacher based in Hyde, Greater Manchester. He said: “I charge £13 per 30 mins, which is about the average price in this area. There are a few other tutors in my region – certainly a lot more than when I first started, when I was pretty much the only one to be full time. So, I have to charge competitively, while making a decent living.”
How much does experience influence salary?
PayScale has calculated average salaries based on the 86 submissions it’s received from music teachers. These are the typical annual salary levels according to experience:
- 1-4 years’ experience: £24,431
- 5-9 years’ experience: £32,171
- 10+ years’ experience: £34,245
We also looked at several school-based music teacher vacancies on Reed and Indeed. Most of these vacancies were based on a competitive salary or a day rate – using the day rate, here’s what we found:
- The lower rate for a music teacher role was typically between £100 and £140. Assuming they’re working five days a week, 40 weeks a year (during school term time), this works out at £20,000 to £28,000 a year. This correlates with the data above – a new or inexperienced music teacher is likely to receive a salary in the mid-£20,000 range.
- The highest rate for a music teacher role was between £150 and £220. Assuming they’re working five days a week, 40 weeks a year (during school term time), this works out at between £30,000 and £44,000 a year. This, again, corresponds with some of the above figures.
As we said above, an experienced music teacher should, in most cases, be earning comfortably over £30,000 a year. Those with around 10 to 20 years’ experience who are based in a metropolitan area will likely earn more than £40,000 a year.
What music teachers say
Marianne Rizkallah: “I feel my increased experience and great feedback could command higher rates if I wanted it to. But, even at my current rate, I would earn £45,000 if I taught for five hours a day during term time only (i.e. a 40-week year).”
Simon Bennett: “Your earnings can be quite slim in the first few years when you’ve not got much of a client base. Income varies a lot year to year, as guitar music goes in and out of fashion. A few years ago, when the video game “Guitar Hero” was popular, guitar lessons boomed due to the interest it created. However, your income depends on how much time you devote to teaching. You have to try and get your work/life balance sorted and not let your schedule fill up too much.”
What other factors influence salary?
Your overall salary will depend on how many jobs you have. Strictly speaking, the salary a teacher earns from their ‘day job’ often isn’t their sole form of income.
Music teachers will often extend their services to gigs, workshops, masterclasses and other activities. So, although the average annual music teacher salary is in the mid-£30,000 range, an average music teacher is likely to earn more than this.
Where (and whom) you teach is another key factor in the salary you receive. If you teach at a school full-time, your salary is fixed and you know how much money you’ll get. If you teach adults, you never know from one month to the next how many clients you’ll have. All it takes is for someone to relocate or start a family and you’ll need to start taking on more people in order to maintain your income.
This ties in with the next point – how many hours you work. This will obviously impact how much you earn. If you teach at a school full-time, your hours are fixed, whereas if you teach different types of clients, you can work as little or often as you want. Some weeks, you might have a full diary, other weeks you might be less busy.
Furthermore, some of the salaries you see advertised on job websites are pro-rata, but the job itself may be temporary. This is always worth bearing in mind when you’re looking for work.
What music teachers say
Marianne Rizkallah: “Most music teachers I know have a portfolio of work and their teaching work is just one part of that. Some other typical vocations include performing, composing, workshops, masterclasses, collaborating with other musicians and teachers to create new courses or performance opportunities and producing great video content which can be monetised through adverts. Not accepting free gigs also is vital, to encourage clients to pay and to pay fairly.”
Simon Bennett: “I’ve been very fortunate to do additional teaching in schools which is a fantastic income booster. It’s becoming more competitive nowadays to get a guitar teaching position in schools, but it is a regular wage and the hourly rates can be very good as you move up the pay grades through the years.”
Although the figures vary somewhat, there a few clear trends…
- When you first start out as a music teacher, you’re likely to earn around £20,000 to £25,000 as a pro-rata salary.
- An experienced music teacher can expect to earn well over £30,000 in the UK’s best paying areas. If you’re based in the south or within close proximity of a city, you’re looking at an average annual salary of £35,000 to £45,000.
- You can earn even more than this, depending on the type of teaching you provide, the hours you work and any extracurricular activities you’re involved in.
- London and Hertfordshire pay the highest salaries, which won’t surprise many people. However, Newcastle and Leicester being among the UK’s highest paying cities may raise a few eyebrows.
Of all the data we collected, we consider the figures from Check-a-Salary to be the most reliable, as its sample size was 1,726 music teachers.
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