By TACP Staff on July 08, 2021

A singer is someone who is professionally trained in singing, with experience performing before the public. A singer may also be referred to as being a vocalist. Professional singers are generally required to have a high degree of vocal range, as well as the ability to convey emotions and differentiate between notes within their range. Singers often work together with musicians, who provide accompaniment and possibly backup vocals.

What Is a Singer?

A professional singer is trained extensively in singing, voice, music theory, and musical styles. They also need to understand how to read sheet music and work with other musicians to produce the desired sound for the song they are singing. To be a professional singer, you made need formal or informal training and research into different genres, including voice and vocal technique, singing styles from various cultures, classical music history, musical theatre knowledge, etc.

To become a professional singer, you must be dedicated and willing to put in long hours performing, recording, rehearsing, and refining your craft. Many singers have extensive vocal training and learn how to understand the nuances of different styles such as vocal jazz, classical opera, or musical theatre. Other skills that are necessary for a professional singer include public speaking skills and the ability to work with other musicians on stage. It helps if you are also interested in music composition, and music production.

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Singer Salary & Job Outlook

It can be challenging to estimate the annual salary of a singer because singers are rarely paid an annual salary, with a few exceptions. Instead, singers (and musicians in general), make money from several revenue streams such as royalties, playing live shows, licensing fees for their music, selling merchandise, and advances on future performances. 

The difficulty associated with estimating an annual salary is demonstrated by the wide range of salaries reported by several reputable sources of employment data. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is one of the most trusted sources of salary information, reports that musicians and singers earned a median hourly wage of $31.40 as of May 2020. This hourly wage is the equivalent of a $65,312 salary for a person working a 40-hour week. 

However, other sources like ZipRecruiter report wages as high as $76 to $192 per hour, which equates to annual earnings between $157,782 and $400,000. ZipRecruiter also notes that the professionals in the bottom 10% earned wages in the range of $17,500, which is approximately $8.41 to $11.17 per hour. These wage estimates suggest a significant disparity between artists who are at the top of their profession and those who may be less popular or lesser known. 

Professional Organizations & Resources for Singers