His electroacoustic compositions had been performed throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and South America. Such ensembles as the New World Symphony Orchestra, The Memphis Symphony, the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra, and ALEA III gave concerts of Nelson's acoustic music.
Before joining the UNT faculty in 1996, Jon Nelson worked as a visiting Assistant Professor at the Clark University (1988), an Assistant Professor of Music at the Berklee College Of Music (1988–91), and a music instructor at Brandeis University (1990–91). For six years, he was an Assistant Professor of Music Composition and directed Electronic Music Studios at the Florida International University.
At North Texas, Nelson led the Center For Experimental Music And Intermedia, University Of North Texas, Denton (CEMI). Under his direction, CEMI was redesigned and equipped with flexible, multi-purpose Macintosh-based computer workstations. After becoming a Dean of Operations for the UNT College of Music in 1999, Nelson passed the directorship to Joseph Rovan; Jon served as a Director of CEMI again in 2004–05.
Nelson spent two years in residence in Sweden at Elektronmusikstudion and Visby International Centre For Composers, as well as IMEB in France. He also acted as a president of the League of Composers/ISCM' Boston Chapter (1988–89) and Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the US (SEAMUS) from 2000 until 2004. Throughout his career, Nelson had been honored with many awards including fellowships from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment For The Arts, the Fulbright Commission, Euphonies d'Or, Luigi Russolo Prize, and Americas Regional Award from the International Computer Music Association.