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Career Overview: Distributes notices for career opportunities within the orchestra, screens applicants, maintains applications and potential candidates on file.
Career Salary Range: $26,000 to $65,000+
Become a Personnel Director
An orchestra’s Personnel Director is responsible for hiring and firing of personnel. When there are openings, the Personnel Director sends out notices to schools, conservatories, associations, and organizations – this goes for the business side and the talent side. Once applicants begin to respond, the Personnel Director screens all applications. If the position in question is a talent position, the Personnel Director will work in conjunction with the Music Director, Concertmaster, and Section Leaders to set up auditions. If the position in question is on the business side, the Personnel Director would not only screen the applications, but he or she would also conduct the preliminary interviews.
The Personnel Director must maintain a list of backup Musicians for each instrument in the orchestra because most times when a substitute is needed, they are needed immediately. It is the Personnel Director’s responsibility to explain orchestra policies, rules, regulations, and salaries to interested parties. In addition, he or she must ensure that all forms are filled out and all information needed by the orchestra is obtained.
As mentioned, if one needs to be fired, the Personnel Director is responsible for carrying out the action. It is also up to the Personnel Director to keep track of employee attendance and musician punctuality. He or she must have the ability to put people into jobs for which they are best suited while maintaining skin thick enough to carry out a firing.
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Depending on the size of the orchestra, the Personnel Director usually earns a salary between $26,000 and $65,000 plus annually. Of course, other factors that determine the salary include budget, the Director’s skills, and their past career experience.
Employment prospects for this position are low, as there are limited positions available and turnover is low.
Just getting a starting position is difficult enough, making the advancement to a larger, more prestigious orchestra very hard. Competition is stiff and people don’t leave these jobs often. Other ways of advancement include moving into different departments in the orchestra if qualified. A move into Labor Relations and Negotiating is also possible if the individual has the right training.
Education and Training
Because of the steep competition, some orchestras do not require a college degree, but others do. Major orchestras often require degrees in Personnel Administration. Take a look at our complete list of top music colleges here.
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Experience, Skills, and Personality
As mentioned, the Personnel Director needs to be able to match the right people to the right jobs. In an orchestra, Personnel Directors must have at least a basic knowledge of music so that they will know which applicants will fit best with the organization. He or she must be articulate, and should be OK with the potential responsibility of firing someone.
Unions and Associations
American Symphony Orchestra League (ASOL) or other arts councils in the area are options for the Personnel Director.
Suggestions for Getting Started
- Try to find an internship program to get a foot in the door.
- Check for openings in the American Symphony Orchestra League (ASOL) newsletter, publications from regional arts organizations, and local newspaper advertisements.
- Seek out career development courses so that you’re constantly learning.
- Check job search sites such as hotjobs.com, monster.com, and simplyhired.com.
- Check orchestra websites for openings, because many do list openings.