A choir teacher may work in a number of forums including public or private K-12 schools, community colleges and universities, private secular music programs for children and/or adults, or in church-based choirs. Given the different job possibilities, there may be many ways to become a choir teacher. All of these will depend on a certain amount of music education, but whether that education is formal or informal could depend on the type of job a person wants to have. Explanation of different ways to become a choir teacher is based on expected employment venues.
Lots of people are attracted to the idea of teaching choir in private or public K-12 settings. While some schools will hire a choir teacher who does not possess a current teaching credential, most public schools cannot do this. This means that those interested in this profession would want to first get an undergraduate degree in subjects like music education with an emphasis on voice or choir training. Folks would then need to participate in a credential program to get whatever licenses are necessary. Those who have training in this area without education might look for work in private schools, but they’ll generally be compensated less if they possess no teaching credential, and many private schools only hire credentialed teachers.
In community colleges and universities, the person who would become a choir teacher will need more education. In addition to a bachelor’s degree in music, these teachers usually possess at least a master’s degree. Many of them have studied to the PhD level, and many universities won’t hire a choir teacher or professor that doesn’t have a doctorate. Again, focus in studies should be on choir music, music theory, and music education.
Employment opportunities for the person who wants to become a choir teacher in private programs or at churches really vary. Most people come to this work with strong backgrounds in singing, directing, and musical knowledge. Getting hired depends on being able to prove knowledge, skill and experience, and sometimes this experience takes place wholly outside of academic or formal education settings. Other times people have a mix of some college training or work at performing arts schools, and a lot of real life experience either participating in or directing choirs. When the pay is low, employers may not be too picky about a person’s experience, but high paid jobs tend to come with requests for demonstration of expertise.
Sometimes by choir teacher what is meant is voice coach or singing teacher. Instead of teaching a whole choir, a person might become a choir teacher of this type by giving private or semi-private lessons. The backgrounds of these teachers are varied too. Some may have formal education, others have demonstrable experience, and yet others have a combination of education and experience. What is likely to keep these coaches employed is their degree of success with students and their ability to help students improve.