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Choral Conductor

Choral conductors organize, direct and conduct choral groups such as community and school choirs, church choirs, children's choirs, chamber choirs, college choral ensembles, opera choruses and other groups that specialize in particular periods or styles of music.

Also Known As

Choir Director, Conductor, Music Director

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 5132.1: Conductors

2006 NOC-S

  • F032: Conductors, Composers and Arrangers

2011 NOC

  • 5132: Conductors, composers and arrangers

2016 NOC

  • 5132: Conductors, composers and arrangers

2021 NOC

  • 51121: Conductors, composers and arrangers

2023 OaSIS

  • 51121.01: Conductors
Updated Mar 20, 2017

Depending on the type of ensemble, choral conductors may:

  • conduct rehearsals and performances
  • choose suitable musical  repertoire
  • work with instrumentalists and solo vocalists
  • conduct auditions and recruit and educate performers
  • plan rehearsal and performance schedules
  • book rehearsal and performance venues, accompanists and instrumentalists
  • work with clergy to select music for church services
  • promote the ensemble, plan and implement fundraising activities, arrange tours and recordings
  • co-ordinate parent and support groups.

Rehearsals comprise the major part of a choral conductor's work.

Choral conductors use conducting techniques to communicate their musical intentions, such as tempo, phrasing, tone, colour and volume. A conductor's preparation and enthusiasm contributes greatly to the success of rehearsals and to the quality of the final performance.

When choosing music, conductors consider:

  • the size of the ensemble
  • the interests and abilities of ensemble members
  • providing variety and challenging repertoire to both audience and performers
  • suitability for different performance situations
  • the availability and skill level of accompanists and instrumentalists
  • the availability of scores
  • budget limitations.

Unless choral conductors have a manager or administrative assistant, they are usually responsible for administrative tasks such as:

  • applying for grants and establishing a budget
  • scheduling concerts to co-ordinate with other choral, symphonic and operatic engagements
  • designing and printing programs and promotional materials
  • ordering musical scores
  • arranging the seating of the choir
  • encouraging regular attendance and commitment from members
  • organizing and enforcing uniforms.

They may enlist choir members to help with administrative functions.

Once the regular performance season is over, choirs often tour locally, nationally or internationally. Choral conductors may co-ordinate tours themselves or hire touring companies to arrange concert dates, venues, accommodation and transportation.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 20, 2017
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

When preparing scores and performing administrative tasks, choral conductors work alone. On other tasks, they work with choir members and others. Long hours are often required for rehearsals and when preparing new musical works for the group. Most rehearsals and performances are held in the evenings or weekends.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.


2006 NOC: 5132.1

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

Interest in instructing instrumentalists and performers to achieve rendition required; and in leading bands, orchestras and choirs during rehearsals and performances, in auditioning and selecting instrumental and vocal performers, and in supervising and co-ordinating activities of studio and company personnel


Interest in synthesizing information to control balance, rhythm, dynamics and entries of instruments and voices to create interpretation of scores; and in planning and organizing musical productions, and in assigning parts to performers so the meaning and feeling of interpreted scores are expressed


Interest in precision working to memorize musical scores; and in selecting music to accommodate talents of groups, and in positioning performers to obtain balance and harmony of instruments and voices

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 20, 2017

Choral conductors need to possess:

  • musical talent
  • a genuine appreciation of each member's contribution to the group
  • self-confidence and leadership skills
  • good communication skills
  • creative problem-solving skills
  • the ability to work long hours and with frequently limited rehearsal schedules, in stressful and demanding settings.

They should enjoy taking charge of situations and developing innovative approaches to their work.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 20, 2017
  • Minimum Education Varies

Excellent musical ability and a thorough music education are essential. Choral conductors must be able to detect and correct errors related to pitch, rhythm, intonation, vocal tone and diction.

Formal training requirements for choral conductors vary greatly:

  • Church choir conductors may be congregation members who have musical experience and a suitable personality, or professional musicians who have degrees in conducting or organ performance. Community choir leaders come from equally varied backgrounds.
  • Conductors of school choirs may be teachers who have a special interest in music, or teachers who have degrees in both music and education.
  • Positions in colleges and universities often require a doctoral degree in choral conducting.
  • Conductors of professional groups are hired by audition and on the basis of their performance-history.

Choir Alberta offers resources, educational opportunities and professional development programs throughout the province for choir members, choral groups, conductors, organists and other interested individuals. These programs cover topics such as choral repertoire, conducting and rehearsal techniques and administration of choral groups.

Those wishing to teach music and conduct groups in schools may take any of the following educational routes:

  • a 4-year bachelor of education (B.Ed.) degree specializing in music
  • a 5-year combined bachelor of music/B.Ed. degree
  • a 3-year or 4-year bachelor of music degree followed by 2 or more additional years in a bachelor of education (after degree) program.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 20, 2017
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 20, 2017

Choral conductors may work with:

  • elementary and secondary school choirs
  • university and college choirs
  • church choirs
  • professional choirs
  • amateur groups.

Working as a choral conductor in a school often involves teaching other areas of music, including band and music theory. In many schools, conductors teach other subjects as well as music.

University and college positions are limited in number and generally include teaching as well as conducting responsibilities. These positions usually require at least a master's degree in music and often a doctoral degree.

Church choral directors may have other duties such as being the church organist and planning the musical parts of worship services.

There are a limited number of professional choral groups in Canada that offer full-time employment. Exceptional choral conductors arer sometimes hired nationally or internationally as guest conductors for particular performances.

Many choral conductors who work with amateur groups must supplement their incomes by working in other occupations.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 5132: Conductors, composers and arrangers occupational group, 97.2% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 5132: Conductors, composers and arrangers occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.1% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 13 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Sep 29, 2022

Salaries for professional choir conductors and school choral directors vary depending on the individual's qualifications and experience. Church choir directors may be paid lower salaries or they may volunteer. Amateur community choirs usually give conductors honorariums.

Choral conductors are part of the larger 2016 National Occupational Classification 5132: Conductors, composers and arrangers.

According to the 2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Conductors, composers and arrangers occupational group earned on average up to $37.80 an hour. The overall average was $29.84 an hour. For more information, see the Conductors, composers and arrangers wage profile.

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 20, 2017

Choir Alberta website:

Cultural Human Resources Council website:


Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 20, 2017. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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