Play the cello in a professional orchestra or symphony.
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Salary Range
Highly Variable

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Cellists do?

A Cellist—someone who plays the cello for a living—is in charge of an unusual instrument. The cello is the odd man out in the violin family because it looks, sounds, and acts just a little bit different than everyone else —it’s bigger, heavier, and deeper than its daintier siblings, the violin and viola. Yet the cello is a beautiful and beloved instrument. And as a Cellist, you know that more than anyone.

In fact, you love the cello so much that you’ve dedicated your professional life to sharing its music with others, usually as part of a large symphony orchestra that includes several Cellists—generally around ten of them—playing in harmony along with other Musicians.

Although your instrument of choice is unique, your job is identical to that of the other Musicians in that your daily duties include tuning and caring for your instrument, and auditioning for orchestras. You learn new pieces of music, practice your parts, and, of course, perform. You play sonatas, concertos, and symphonies for live audiences under the direction of a Conductor.

You might perform front and center during classical music concerts, or “behind the scenes” as part of the pit orchestra in an opera or musical theater production. Always, however, you’re found wielding your cello and your bow as if they’re extra limbs. Who knows: You might even be the next Yo-Yo Ma!

Should I be a Cellist?

You should have an associate's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • High Achiever: You love the challenge of tackling difficult work.
  • Team Player: You're able to listen, communicate, and work with tons of different people.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.

  • Also known as: Cello Player

    How to become a Cellist

    We recommend at least an Associate's degree. Check out these schools offering Cellist-related education!
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