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Singer

Singers perform musical arrangements as soloists or members of vocal groups, choirs or bands.

  • Avg. Salary N/A
  • Avg. Wage N/A
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 3,400
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Artist, Musician

NOC & Interest Codes
The Singer is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Singers
NOC code: 5133.2
METHODICAL

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

innovative

Interest in diverting and entertaining audiences by singing for stage, films, television and recordings

directive

Interest in using own phrasing and special musical arrangements to achieve individual style of vocal delivery

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 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 More

Duties
Updated Dec 19, 2016

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 popular music such as rock, country, blues and jazz. Popular singers need business and entrepreneurial skills as well as talent. Hit songs can have a fairly short life and singers may work for years without achieving commercial success.

Singing for many artists is more than just having a good voice; it is a lot of hard work. In addition to rehearsing and performing, popular singers:

  • look for new material that fits their particular style and could be added to their live performances or next recordings
  • audition or prepare and submit audition tapes (demos) to obtain work
  • work with business agents or managers to find work and negotiate contracts
  • work with graphic artists on promotional material
  • develop and maintain websites
  • may write their own songs (for more information, see the Songwriter occupational profile).

Classical singers specialize in a particular voice type (soprano, mezzo-soprano, contralto, tenor, baritone, bass). In addition to rehearsing, performing and looking for work, they must:

  • learn new music (often written in other languages)
  • research particular roles to find out more about the character they are portraying or the period of history in which the piece is set
  • work with vocal coaches to rehearse for upcoming stage roles
  • learn fencing, acting and dancing as required for dramatic singing roles.

All singers must practice daily to maintain the elasticity of their voices 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 two or three takes.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Singers 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 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.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Singers need the following characteristics:

  • vocal talent and a discerning ear for music
  • ambition, self-discipline and the ability to handle criticism and rejection
  • good communication skills
  • good health and stamina
  • a dramatic stage presence and the ability to sense the mood of an audience and respond accordingly
  • the ability to work under pressure
  • the ability to work with a variety of people
  • a good memory for music.

They should enjoy studying and rehearsing music, diverting and entertaining audiences, and developing their own style.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Like most other artists, singers need good business sense and an understanding of how to promote themselves to agents and managers. 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 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 since 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 institution 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.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

Grande Prairie Regional College

Prairie Bible Institute

Red Deer College

Rosebud School of The Arts - Rosebud

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Below-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Singers from both popular and classical backgrounds may work in:

  • concert halls, churches and theatres as soloists or as part of a group
  • radio and television studios (doing commercials)
  • recording studios
  • festivals, national expositions or other large cultural events
  • musical theatre and operas.

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 recordings or live performances. This requires making professional quality demos that highlight the singer's best qualities, and developing contacts with music directors, music agents, 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 in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 3,000 Albertans are employed in the Musicians and singers occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.3% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 39 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As singers form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for singers. 

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

The market for classical singers is small and very competitive especially for female singers.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 19, 2016

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 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.

According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Musicians and Singers occupational group earned on average $18.13 to $26.71 an hour. The overall average wage was $20.19 an hour. More recent data is not available.

Related High School Subjects
  • Fine Arts
    • Music
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Alberta Music Industry Association website: www.amia.ca

Alliance of Cinema, Television and Radio Artists website: www.actra.ca

American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada website: www.afm.org

Calgary Musicians' Association website: www.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

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Jun 01, 2009. 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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