Play the drums professionally in a band or orchestra.
picture of Percussionist

Quick Stats

Salary Range
Highly Variable

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Percussionists do?

Keeping a steady beat is just one of your jobs as a Percussionist. You could also create some depth and layering to the music with your instruments, or even be given a bit of the spotlight with a rousing drum solo. In any case, percussion keeps the whole musical operation moving steadily and in time. And between you and the Bass Player, the rhythm section is complete.

In short, a metronome’s got nothing on you!

Percussionists might not get all the attention, but without your work, the rest of the band would just about fall apart. Your work could lead you to the stage of a rock concert, banging away at the drums, or to an orchestra pit, where you might play the timpani or man the snare drum. As the driving force of a symphony, you could play any of those instruments, a steel drum, a marimba, or one of many others.

In every situation, you’re the go-to person for the tempo. And if you think Percussionists are just one of those people at the background, think again. There are opportunities for Percussionists to become leads in bands. (Can you play the steel drums? Do you like island living?)

If you’re a real showman, you could even combine your percussion chops with performance art. (Ever heard of Stomp or the Blue Man Group? Do you like Las Vegas?) Your art and musical talent can take you in a million directions…just follow the beat!

Should I be a Percussionist?

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

  • Also known as: Percussion Player

    How to become a Percussionist

    We recommend at least an Associate's degree. Check out these schools offering Percussionist-related education!
    Schools close to

    Careers Similar to Percussionist