Singers perform musical arrangements as soloists or members of vocal groups, choirs or bands.
Singers perform musical arrangements as soloists or members of vocal groups, choirs or bands.
Artist, Musician, Soloist, Vocalist
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:
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.
Interest in co-ordinating musical information from scores and arrangements to study and rehearse before performances, and to sing as soloists and members of musical groups
Interest in diverting and entertaining audiences by singing for stage, films, television and recordings
Interest in using own phrasing and special musical arrangements to achieve individual style of vocal delivery
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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.
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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.
Singers perform for live audiences and in recording studios. They usually specialize in particular types of music (popular, country, jazz, concert, recital, oratorio or opera) but may perform in several genres.
The careers of classically trained singers (who perform mostly opera, musical theatre, chamber music and choral music) are quite different from those of singers who perform music such as rock, country, blues and jazz. In addition to vocal talent, singers also need business and entrepreneurial skills. Hit songs can have a fairly short life, and singers may work for years without achieving commercial success.
Singing is more than having a good voice. It is a lot of hard work. In addition to rehearsing and performing, popular singers:
In some cases, singers write their own songs (for more information, see the Songwriter occupational profile)
Classical singers specialize in a particular voice pitch (soprano, mezzo-soprano, contralto, tenor, baritone, bass). In addition to rehearsing, performing and looking for work, they must:
All singers must practice daily to maintain the elasticity of their vocal chords throughout their singing careers. If they know the repertoire well, rehearsals may only take a short time. However, if singers must learn new repertoire or new roles (for example, in an opera or musical) practice sessions may take several weeks or months.
Recording sessions for radio commercials and film soundtracks require singers to sight read their parts. They often have to learn new pieces of music within 2 or 3 takes.
Singers find work primarily in larger centres where recording studios usually are located and most concert productions are staged. They work long hours, day and evening, rehearsing, recording and performing. Most performances are in the evenings and on weekends.
Singers must be prepared to travel wherever work is available. To promote new recordings, they may go on national or regional tours, and be required to do interviews on TV or radio.
They should enjoy studying and rehearsing music, diverting and entertaining audiences, and developing their own style.
In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.
This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 24 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Nov 30, 2021 and Feb 02, 2023.
Review these skills to learn:
|Teaching Specialization: Instrumental||18|
|Musical Genre: Traditional folk||15|
|Musical Genre: Classical or chamber||14|
|Musical Instruments: Piano||13|
|Musical Genre: Popular||12|
|Teaching Specialization: Music theory||12|
|Musical Genre: Native, ethnic or cultural||11|
|Teaching Specialization: Vocal||11|
|Musical Instruments: Drums||9|
|Attention to detail||7|
Like most other artists, singers need good business sense and an understanding of how to promote themselves to agents, managers and audiences. Versatility is a definite asset.
Singers must learn to entertain. Entering amateur competitions, recitals and music festivals as early as possible provides practice at performing for an audience. Learning to play an instrument provides a good grounding in sight reading and ear training. Because the voice changes during adolescence, many singers wait until later to commit themselves to a career in singing.
Although many popular singers have little formal music training, there is a growing trend for professional contemporary singers to pursue formal technical training. Understanding musical concepts improves a singer’s ability to communicate with their conductor and fellow performers. Conductors also may prefer working with singers with this background, as better communication makes for more efficient use of often limited rehearsal time.
Finding a singing teacher who is competent and well versed in either classical or popular styles is important. Singing lessons are offered by music conservatories, independent teachers and post-secondary school music departments. Courses in other areas of music, such as arranging, composing and music theory, are useful, too.
It is not necessary to have a degree or diploma in music to become a singer. However, the comprehensive music education offered in post-secondary programs can be very valuable.
The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.
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.
There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.
Singers from both popular and classical backgrounds may work in:
Popular music singers often start out singing at school events. They may sign on with a booking agent who, for a percentage of the contract, finds them work in bars and clubs. Classical singers may have fewer options available for singing contracts. Because singing is not always a full-time occupation, singers often have other jobs as well.
Singers need to build a fan base by getting exposure through video/audio recordings or live performances. This requires making professional-quality demos that highlight the singer’s best features. It also means developing contacts with music directors, music agents, media promoters, conductors, songwriters and music producers.
Singers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5133: Musicians and singers. In Alberta, 93% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:
The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:
In Alberta, the 5133: Musicians and singers occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.1% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 58 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.
The market for classical singers is small and very competitive, especially for female singers.
Performers or their agents negotiate fees for live performances with owners or managers. Therefore, singers’ incomes can fluctuate dramatically depending on how much work is available.
Singers may belong to different unions and associations that set wage scales. Those involved in recording, live performances and commercials may belong to the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) of the United States and Canada. Singers in musical theatre and in operas may belong to the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association. Singers performing for film, television and radio may belong to the Alliance of Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA).
Alberta Music Industry Association website: www.albertamusic.org
Alliance of Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) website: www.actra.ca
American Federation of Musicians (AFM) of the United States and Canada website: www.afm.org
Calgary Musicians’ Association website: calgarymusicians.org
Canadian Actors’ Equity Association website: www.caea.com
Cultural Human Resources Council website: www.culturalhrc.ca
Edmonton Musicians’ Association website: www.afmedmonton.ca
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Updated Mar 31, 2021. 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.