How to Become a Conductor

Have you ever watched and listened to a professional orchestra and wondered about the person with their back to you waving a baton in the air? Of course, this is the conductor, but what qualifications do you need to lead the orchestra?

If you aspire of becoming one of these bastions of classical music there are certain steps you must first take. These career tips of how to become a conductor are designed to help you along the way.

Learn an Instrument

To understand how each of the individual players of an orchestra are performing a conductor has to be proficient in at least one instrument. And their general overall musical knowledge has to be exceptional, there are absolutely no exceptions to this. It does not really matter which instrument you choose, but one of the more popular ones such as violin will give you an advantage.

Love Music

To become a creative conductor, you must love music, and when you lead an orchestra you have the opportunity to stamp your interpretation on the music. In effect the orchestra becomes your instrument. The musicians put their feelings into the way they play, and the conductor needs to love the music so much that they can communicate this to the players.

Go to School

To become a conductor you will need to be educated to at least Bachelor of Arts level. And some positions require a master’s degree. Many music colleges now offer specific conductor courses which vary between majors and minors depending on what you want to achieve.

As a rule of thumb, the salary you can expect will begin as a direct link to the qualifications you have. And earnings can differ from $15,000 to $300,000.

As well as the technical aspects to your degree, you will also need to learn how to communicate effectively. To do this you will need the following skills:

These skills can be added by way of additional courses at University but experience also will hone them to become stronger and stronger.


Like most professional jobs, education is important, but experience is essential. It is a bit like the chicken and the egg scenario, how to you get experience when you have never worked? Many conductors choose an internship as the best way of getting experience, although you will not get paid your salary is the experience you gain.

Be Flexible

At the start of your career, you need to be flexible, your dream job will probably not be the first position that you are offered. This is the time you need to pay your dues and put in the hard hours in a position you may not particularly like. During this period why not form a small musical ensemble of your friends that you can practice conducting with. Offer your services for free to youth orchestras and schools, just get experience under your belt.

Being a conductor is a wonderful career, it can take you all over the world and give you the opportunity to work with some splendid musicians.