How to Be a Tour Manager: Education and Career Information

Oct 20, 2021

Research the requirements to become a tour manager. Learn about the job description and duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career as a tour manager.

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Should I Become a Tour Manager?

Degree Level None; bachelor's common
Degree Fields Business management, music, or a related field
Experience Entry-level experience preferred
Key Skills Organizational, interpersonal, listening skills, problem-solving, and business skills; creativity; knowledge of musical instruments and sound system equipment
Salary $66,040 (2018 median annual salary for agents and business managers of artists, performers, or athletes)

Sources:, Job postings from November 2014, Interview of professional tour manager Travis Braum by staff from Missouri State University

A tour manager sees to it that all aspects of a professional entertainment tour run smoothly. The duties overseen by a tour manager may include booking the performances, arranging for transportation and meals for both the artists and the crew, securing lodging, completing accounting tasks and hiring and firing personnel. The tour manager may also be responsible for mediating conflicts between personnel members involved in a tour. This job can be stressful when deadlines loom or when conflicts arise. While most tour managers have a bachelor's degree in business management, music or a related field, this is not required by all employers. Entry-level experience is preferred. Tour managers should have organization, interpersonal skills, listening skills, problem-solving skills, business skills, creativity, and knowledge of musical instruments and sound system equipment. For agents and business managers of artists, performers and athletes, including tour managers, the median annual wage was $66,040 as of May 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Let's review the training path to become a tour manager. A bachelor's degree may be required by some employers, while others are looking for applicants with some college coursework. A prospective tour director may find it helpful to take classes in business law, psychology, accounting, management, computers and first aid. College students who enroll in a business management program may also take classes in marketing, entrepreneurship, operations management and negotiation skills.

Practical experience might be a more important consideration for employers than formal education in this field. For this reason, it's a good idea for a college student who seeks a career in tour management to participate in an internship in the music business. Interns may be asked to help with marketing campaigns, assist with research, work on multimedia presentations, help construct websites or organize street teams. Actual duties involved in an internship may differ widely by employer. Individuals who complete a music business internship may have the opportunity to make crucial professional contacts in the music industry. Networking and becoming acquainted with the right people is especially important for advancement in this field.

Step 2: Gain Experience

After completing college coursework or a degree, many tour managers get their start by working on live music tours in some non-management capacity. Prospective tour managers might get job experience by working as sound engineers, stage managers or lighting technicians. They might also work as stage hands or tour bus drivers. Alternatively, prospective tour managers might also gain music industry experience by being a local band manager or even a local band musician.

It's important to become familiar with the instruments and sound equipment used by musicians during live tours. Because a tour manager is responsible for assuring that the tour runs smoothly, he or she may find it helpful to develop technical expertise in maintaining and repairing the instruments, sound systems and other mechanical devices used by musicians on the road. The ability to handle mechanical problems in a pinch may mean the difference between the success or failure of a particular performance.

Step 3: Make Professional Contacts in the Industry

So, networking and job experience are important for becoming a tour manager. In fact, many tour managers get their positions through personal contacts with others in the music business rather than through job advertisements. Individuals may learn of opportunities by meeting with crew members for an artist, or by talking with the actual musicians involved. Another method of securing an eventual position as a tour manager might be to seek entry-level employment in a large entertainment management firm, and then establish the necessary professional contacts needed for advancement.

To get a tour manager job, it's beneficial to familiarize yourself with music industry websites. Some websites offer networking opportunities through which individuals who work on live shows can discuss aspects of the business and share information and resources. Other websites offer job boards advertising positions in live entertainment, but registration on the website may be required in order to participate.

Tour managers ensure entertainment tours run smoothly. A degree may not be necessary for these positions, but knowing people in the industry and making connections is essential.

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