A cellist is someone who plays the cello professionally, usually as a part of a large symphony orchestra. An orchestra will normally include a number of cellists, not just one, and that number will vary depending on the types of works the orchestra normally plays, but will generally be around ten. A cellist learns the pieces he/she will be playing and also times their performance with that of other cellists and other musicians in the orchestra as well. The cello is sometimes one of the most important instruments in a composition, and the performance of the cellist(s) in those cases is crucial to the success of the entire orchestra.
A cellist will either be self-taught or will have attended musical school. Regardless, the only strict requirement for finding employment as a cellist is displaying knowledge and experience with playing the instrument. Perfecting the cello can take many years, usually more than the other instruments employed in an orchestra, due to the different styles of playing available, as well as the complexity of the instrument itself. Skilled cellists are usually highly regarded.
Cellists tend to be compensated well if they’re experienced enough. Some high-ranking orchestras pay their cellists up to $200,000 a year, such as the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra, though finding employment in such an orchestra usually requires a large number of working years and a very solid understanding of the instrument, as well as good references from other orchestras. A cellist working at a medium-grade orchestra can expect an annual salary of $50,000 – $60,000.