FAQ Career changers
Frequently Asked Questions
I am a performer and want to keep playing in the orchestra. But I also have an interest in learning about the administrative side of things. How can I begin?
Get involved with committees and non-performance activities that the orchestra does so that you can learn how these aspects of the orchestra work. Look into taking the League’s “Essentials of Orchestra Management ” seminar offered each January in NYC. Read through the Career Profiles to learn how other professional musicians have become involved with the behind the scenes work of orchestras.
I have an MBA and/or Arts Administration degree. Will this degree help me in my job search?
Depends on the position. If you aspire to be the executive director of the orchestra, either of these degrees will provide important learning in the areas of finance, management, and business processes. But many managers have gained on the job experience working in different areas of the organization and this experience is often more important to search committees than a degree and no experience. Read through the Career Profiles section to learn about the backgrounds of people working in the field.
I want to work for an orchestra but don’t know what job is best for me. What should be my first steps?
First, make a list of your creative talents, leadership abilities and administrative skills. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to get your started: Are you good with details? Are you able to use technology creatively? Are you a good problem solver and can think and react on your feet? Are you able to juggle multiple projects at the same time? Are you a good public speaker? Do you enjoy working with a wide range of people? Do you like to organize events? Once you have your list, then read through the Job descriptions and see what areas of orchestra management fit your skills. Then, sign up for an Informational Interview so that you can speak with someone working for an orchestra who has the job(s) you are interested in pursuing.
Are there more job opportunities in large orchestras or small ones?
Orchestras are like other businesses in that the smaller the budget, the smaller the number of staff, the larger the budget, the larger the number of staff. (See sample Orchestra Organizational charts). With a small staff (2-10 people), you’ll be involved with many aspects of running the organization, have experience working on a variety of projects, know your musicians and your community. Within a larger organization (15+), your work is more specialized and your experience is more in depth and focused. Depending on your specific job responsibilities, your interaction with other offices will vary, but usually most of your work will be within your department. For job growth and promotions opportunities, a larger organization will have a range of responsibilities within one department where a small organization will involve you in lots of different areas all the time. Read through the Career Profiles to see the variety of jobs and opportunities and see what sounds right for you.
I’ve been working in a different area of non-profit administration. Will my job experience translate to a job with an orchestra?
Yes. Orchestras need experienced people in all areas of management including finance, development, marketing, technology, human resources, and facilities management.
How can I find out about job opportunities in orchestras?
The League maintains a job posting board for its members (To join the League, click here). Individual orchestra websites also post open positions (For a list of orchestras by state, click here ). Also, there are a number of search firms that assist orchestras in filling open more senior level positions (Click here for the League's Business Partner Directory and select the list of executive search firms).
If you know the city or area you’d like to work in, check the classifieds in local newspapers. Job websites such as Monster.com and Idealist.org can also be good sources for available positions. Also, check with your alma mater Careers center. And if you know which orchestra you’d like to work for and you don’t see any open positions, contact their HR office and ask about internship, summer, and volunteer opportunities. Your enthusiasm for working for the orchestra may lead to something!