Congratulations! You’ve graduated – but what next?

After four years studying a BA Hons in Popular Music Practice, I wasn’t sure what to do next. It was only midway through that I started thinking seriously about career options. If you are studying creative, expressive and performing arts, you might have similar questions. For example, those outside of the music industry may view the main lines of work as ‘rockstar’, singer/songwriter, session musician etc. But there is a wealth of other jobs you can do with your training in music and other arts subjects. Let’s look at some of the more common avenues for creative graduates: tutoring, teaching and transferring your skills.





This is a great way to develop your practice and your own understanding of your work while earning money, and you can start this at any time, no need to wait for graduation. Tutoring can even help you work around key points of research and dissertations. Once you’ve graduated, you can place yourself in the £25+ p/h bracket, depending on your experience. Think about how well you need to know something if you are explaining it to someone else – your own work will improve drastically too. It is also flexible around what other work you may wish to do. There is, however, minimal security and if you don’t work, you don’t earn! However, in tutoring you can share your skills and help others explore their creativity which is rewarding in itself. You can work privately, or in schools providing lessons either freelance or via a local service hub (for example, Newham Music Hub in East London). It is bread and butter income for a lot of graduates. You can also tutor in subjects you studied at A level, and sometimes a good GCSE result will be enough.





This is not the same as tutoring; it’s seen as more ‘professional’ because you need to study further and become qualified. You should familiarise yourself with the following terms, as it will help choosing your route into teaching.


  • PGCE – Post Graduate Certificate in Education (primary & secondary – Level 7 qualification, post 16 – level 6 qualification)


  • QTS – Qualified Teacher Status: part of the primary or secondary PGCE qualification


  • QTLS – Qualified Teacher and Learner Skills (attached to post 16 PGCE & PTTLS/DTTLS/CTTLS): Paid via annual subscription


  • PTTLS/DTTLS/CTTLS – Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector: certificate and/or diploma to teach in the lifelong learning sector


A PGCE is advisable for any prospective teacher in the UK; it also is internationally recognised so your work becomes your passport. Some institutions such as academies and private schools accept unqualified teachers, however there is a big difference in what you will earn. While some may be put off by taking out another loan or extending student debt, the salary ranges, taken here from Get Into Teaching and Teach in Scotland, may help you decide:


Pay scales and Locations England & Wales Scotland Inner London Outer London London Fringe
Qualified Max £33,633 £36,480 £39,006 £37,645 £34,934
Qualified Min £22,917 £22,866 £28,909 £26,662 £24,018
Unqualified Max £26,295 N/A £30,573 £29,422 £27,384
Unqualified Min £16,626 N/A £20,909 £19,749 £17,718


You can see from direct comparison that it is in your interest to be qualified, especially if you are working part time. There is no set scale for unqualified teachers in Scotland, but you can use the England/Wales figures as a guide. By training in teaching you will gain many valuable skills: behavioural psychology, classroom management, how to create engaging and informative lesson plans, how to manage your workload (a very important aspect of this career), and there is a certain prestige attached to having a certificate that shows you have invested in yourself. Having a recognisable qualification in teaching will open doors to other freelance work such as short run contracts and consultancy roles, and will put you ahead of other candidates when applying for work.


While teaching is about sharing skills, it is important to take into account your worth, and ensuring you are being properly paid for the work you are doing. Many are lured into the profession at the promise of long holidays and shorter working days; this is not the case, and shouldn’t be the reason you get into teaching, as you are taking on a big social responsibility to your students.



Transferring your skills


So what about repurposing your transferrable skills? It’s not something to consider as an ‘instead of’; more so something to do while you are working towards your ultimate goal, or wondering how you can supplement your creative projects. What talents and skills do you have outside of your chosen field? For example, if you are a musician who runs your own teaching and performance business, your responsibilities will be far reaching. If you are producing all of your resource literature, that requires proficiency with Microsoft Office, Google Docs, Adobe Creative Cloud.  Are you responsible for book keeping, invoicing and accounting? If so, what software packages would you need to use? Consider how these would be desirable skills in the competitive graduate recruitment pool. Most creatives have their own websites, so is designing and maintaining a website also something you can do for someone else?


If you take these skills outside of the creative and artistic spheres, you start to see that you are a versatile freelancer who is at home in the digital workplace, and has excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Think about the jobs you did before and during university; what skills did you gain in those jobs? It may sound like a lot to take in, and you may want to work with a careers advisor to help. Your university may offer this even for a short period of time after you have graduated, but you can make a start today by setting up a profile on Stay Nimble to receive guidance and informative articles to help with your career development decisions.



Author: Alastair

Alastair is a freelance educational consultant, musician, writer and performer. He has worked in education and entertainment since graduating in 2008. He is interested in improving teaching & learning methods by moving away from standardised delivery and assessment. He is currently based in London and you can find him on Twitter at @hijackreality

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

three × 3 =