Church Musician: Everything You Need to Know About a Church Music Career

church musician

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There are several possibilities to promote you faith and still work with music. For that, you should choose to build a church music career. 

Churches typically hire musicians to develop and lead musical programs, including choir, musicals, or hymns for the worship service. Often, these musicians are members of a parish who volunteer their talent and time to make service better. 

Their responsibilities include leading the musical section of service, playing instruments like the piano or organ to accompany hymns, or singing in a choir. Every parish and denomination has its own needs and style for various positions.

Adept church musicians produce a combination of musical passion with enthusiasm for the tradition of faith in which they serve. 


Church Music Career: Types of Church Musicians

While many think nothing more of church music than a choir singing over a tall balcony, the reality is that there are innumerable ways to incorporate music into worship

Certain churches like to stay close to their religious traditions and employ organists for sermon accompaniment to lead the choir or congregation in hymns.

Still, others construct eclectic bands which may produce original compositions in experimental or contemporary genres for the community. 

Organists are also referred to as accompanists, keyboardists, and pianists. These individuals are the general leaders of the music department in churches, and they may often be tasked with training and recruiting members of the team, arranging music for various services, as well as the pastor.

Primarily working with choral and hymnal music, these people have a deep understanding of religious musical traditions. Depending on the budget and size of the music department, the director may take the position of organist.

Conversely, Church bands are instrumentally and stylistically diverse bodies of people that have the same probability of playing R&B, rock ‘n’ roll, hip-hop, or reggae as they are to playing gospel or hymnal music. 

Although certain churches stick to the instrumentation of rock/gospel established in decades past in the form of drums, guitar, and bass, they ask their bands to compose arrangements of old hymns. Furthermore, many churches will encourage members of the band to establish their own compositions to explore the various ways music can exist as a praise to the Lord.



The main qualifications necessary to become a musician include knowledge of traditional music or hymns, including the skills necessary to handle various instruments typically played in churches. These include organs, handbells, keyboards, voice, woodwinds, brass, and drums. 

You may also have to experience planning and leading musical programs, in addition to directing choirs. Depending on the job scope, your employer may desire a candidate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music.


Career Path

Members of church bands and organists can become leaders of worship. This means there is an increased focus on the selection of music, organization of rehearsals, and leading congregations. 

Experienced musicians eventually assume control of the entire musical operation of a church. They frequently utilize their expertise working with congregation members to enter education and work for community music programs as well as schools.


Looking For Work

Positions for church musicians are relatively easy to find, as they’re often posted online in high demand. The difficult part is locating one nearby whose musical style and worship tradition are both suitable for the applicant and which are able to pay living wages. 

Aspiring musicians should begin by reaching out to local churches to see if musicians are needed. Even when they do not, the local pastor may have connections to other churches that do. They are likely to provide a clear picture of all available opportunities in a given area.

Several of the best places to find jobs include national music organizations, national denominational music organizations, music-specific job sites, church-specific job sites, and university music departments. 

The two best national music organizations include the American Guild of Organists and the American Choral Directors Association. Some good national denominational music organizations to pick from including the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, The Fellowship, National Pastoral Musicians, Presbyterian Association of Musicians, and the Musica Sacra Church Music Association of America.

For specific church job sites, look no further than,, and

In the event that you know which denominations you’d like to be a part of, consider looking for their respective regional websites. This may require a degree of creativity on your end due to the fact that regions are often described differently. 

You can try search terms like diocese, conference, or district and input a state or city name to find relevant sites. Only a handful of regional websites post jobs related to church music. However, they’re worth searching for since certain jobs aren’t posted across the web.



Every church musician worth their salt needs to have strong instrumental abilities, knowledge of hymns, musical performance experience, quality verbal communication, education, leadership, and community involvement.

A church musician should be equally passionate about religion and music. The best ones have an intuitive understanding of how to support a pastor’s body of work and improve the worship experience for everyone involved. 

Moreover, they are actively involved in the church community, whose excellent educational and communication skills make others feel excited about music.


Work Life Balance

Despite the fact that church musicians aren’t expected to follow the exact same sect of beliefs as the place of worship they play, the majority of them are active participants in the community and congregation who perform the role on the side. 

In general, church musicians live near churches where they play and combine part-time positions with other jobs in order to pay their bills.



If not working on a volunteer basis, church musicians are paid professionals. Depending on the position, they are paid anywhere between $30,000 to $50,000 a year.

On the low end, a church organist’s salary ranges from as low as $17,000 to as high as $41,000 per year. 

In the middle are cantors, who provide the inspiration for music in congregations and may perform other types of clergy duties. Their salary ranges from as low as $18,000 to $122,000 per year. 

Finally, at the upper end are choir directors, also called ministers of music or music directors. Their salary ranges from as low as $23,000 to as high as $125,000 per year.



There are multiple conservatories across the globe that actually offer Bachelor of Music degrees. In general, they are designed to prepare you for a fulfilling career as a musician of the church. 

If you attend, you’ll often study under a faculty of artists who are passionate teachers and inspiring performers, have the opportunity to perform with ensembles led by masterful conductors, work with exciting worldwide guest artists, and have many opportunities to travel internationally.

These institutions equip you with the tools to become a well-rounded performer with the skills and knowledge necessary to direct musical programs under all denominations of Christianity. They will provide you with a solid background in conducting and performing, in addition to a thorough understanding of contemporary and historical practices in the liturgy.

Curriculums also extend to religion courses and private study of voice, piano, and organ. This typically concludes with a final year in the form of an internship at a nearby church. Many of the courses are offered in the summer. A lot of students declare a minor in dance, music, or theatre to accompany their church music degree.


In Conclusion

Now, if you want to get your music to more people or even use your fame to praise the Lord, you should consider professionally promoting your work as church musician on social media and also getting your music on streaming services like Spotify.

If you want to be featured on one of Spotify’s official playlists, you need to plan ahead. Why? You need to submit your music for review before it’s released.

Services such as Musicvertising offer targeted promotion and playlists placements on platforms like Spotify. So, if you’ve missed the cutoff already, there are still ways to be placed on Spotify playlists (like Musicvertising’s guaranteed playlist placement).

Spotify Promotion

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