Music Composers and Arrangers
SOC: 27-2041.04


Write and transcribe musical scores.

National Salary Information:

Hourly Statistics:

Annual Statistics:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 wage data.

Employment Projections:

Employment (2014):
82,100 employed

Projected (2024):
84,700 employed

Projected growth (2014-2024)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 2014-2024 employment projections external site. "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.

Alternate Titles:

  • Arranger
  • Composer
  • Composer Teaching Artist
  • Conceptor
  • Copyist
  • Creative Director
  • Digital Composer
  • Film Composer
  • Jingle Writer
  • Music Adapter
  • Music Arranger
  • Music Composer
  • Music Orchestrator
  • Music Producer
  • Music Writer
  • Musician
  • Record Producer
  • Song Writer
  • Songwriter

  • Job Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed


    Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.


    Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

    Job Training:

    Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.

    Required Skills:

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Critical Thinking
  • Active Learning
  • Learning Strategies
  • Monitoring
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Coordination
  • Persuasion
  • Negotiation
  • Instructing
  • Service Orientation
  • Complex Problem Solving
  • Operations Analysis
  • Technology Design
  • Programming
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Systems Analysis
  • Systems Evaluation
  • Time Management
  • Management of Financial Resources
  • Management of Material Resources
  • Management of Personnel Resources

  • Knowledge Used:

  • Administration and Management
  • Clerical
  • Economics and Accounting
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Personnel and Human Resources
  • Production and Processing
  • Computers and Electronics
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Design
  • Mathematics
  • Psychology
  • Sociology and Anthropology
  • Geography
  • Therapy and Counseling
  • Education and Training
  • English Language
  • Fine Arts
  • History and Archeology
  • Philosophy and Theology
  • Law and Government
  • Telecommunications
  • Communications and Media
  • Transportation

  • Tasks:

  • Apply elements of music theory to create musical and tonal structures, including harmonies and melodies.
  • Use computers and synthesizers to compose, orchestrate, and arrange music.
  • Determine voices, instruments, harmonic structures, rhythms, tempos, and tone balances required to achieve the effects desired in a musical composition.
  • Experiment with different sounds, and types and pieces of music, using synthesizers and computers as necessary to test and evaluate ideas.
  • Write changes directly into compositions, or use computer software to make changes.
  • Transcribe ideas for musical compositions into musical notation, using instruments, pen and paper, or computers.
  • Guide musicians during rehearsals, performances, or recording sessions.
  • Score compositions so that they are consistent with instrumental and vocal capabilities such as ranges and keys, using knowledge of music theory.
  • Write musical scores for orchestras, bands, choral groups, or individual instrumentalists or vocalists, using knowledge of music theory and of instrumental and vocal capabilities.
  • Confer with producers and directors to define the nature and placement of film or television music.
  • Fill in details of orchestral sketches, such as adding vocal parts to scores.
  • Explore and develop musical ideas based on sources such as imagination or sounds in the environment.
  • Write music for commercial mediums, including advertising jingles or film soundtracks.
  • Transpose music from one voice or instrument to another to accommodate particular musicians.
  • Rewrite original musical scores in different musical styles by changing rhythms, harmonies, or tempos.
  • Study original pieces of music to become familiar with them prior to making any changes.
  • Arrange music composed by others, changing the music to achieve desired effects.
  • Accept commissions to create music for special occasions.
  • Study films or scripts to determine how musical scores can be used to create desired effects or moods.
  • Create original musical forms, or write within circumscribed musical forms such as sonatas, symphonies, or operas.
  • Collaborate with other colleagues, such as copyists, to complete final scores.
  • Copy parts from scores for individual performers.

  • Tools & Technology:

  • Acoustic guitars
  • Audio tape recorders
  • Bass guitars
  • Condenser microphones
  • Desktop computers
  • Digital audio workstations
  • Drum sets
  • Grand pianos
  • Laptop computers
  • Musical instrument digital interface MIDI sequencers
  • Studio recording monitors
  • Synthesizer keyboards
  • Tablet computers
  • Anvil Studio
  • Arobas Music Guitar Pro
  • Arpege Music Pizzicato
  • Audacity
  • Audio Chaos Soundscape Generator
  • Audiveris
  • Avid Technology Sibelius
  • Azemus FS
  • Basic Music Composer
  • Cakewalk SONAR
  • Canorus
  • ChordWizard Software Soundtrix Gold
  • Click MusicalKEYS
  • Curto Drum Software
  • D'accord Music Software iChords
  • Denemo
  • Desktop Piano and Drums
  • DigiPiano
  • Dream Computer Piano
  • Easy Music Composer Free
  • Epinoisis Software Digital Ear
  • FlexiMusic Composer
  • GenieSoft Overture
  • HS Virtual Piano
  • IK Multimedia GrooveMaker
  • Image-Line FL Studio
  • Impro-Visor
  • Jackbeat
  • Javamin Composer
  • Korg EM-1 Editor
  • Lauriso Software Music Publisher
  • Little Piano
  • MadTracker
  • Maestro Music Software MagicScore
  • MAGIX Music Maker
  • MakeMusic Finale
  • Making Waves Audio Making Waves
  • MIDI Score Creator
  • MidiSwing
  • Mozart Music Software Mozart
  • MuseScore
  • Musical Palette
  • MusicDevelopments RapidComposer
  • MusicGraph
  • Musilogic HarmonyBuilder
  • Myriad Software Harmony Assistant
  • Notation Software Notation Composer
  • NoteWorthy Software NoteWorthy Composer
  • Open Song Composer
  • PianoFX STUDIO
  • PianoRollComposer
  • Power Tab Editor
  • Proxima Controller
  • Renoise
  • Rhythm Rascal
  • Sonoma Wire Works RiffWorks
  • Storm Music Studio
  • SVArTracker
  • SwarMala
  • TabIt
  • TablEdit
  • Tonality Systems Symoblic Composer
  • TruePianos software
  • TuxGuitar
  • Twelve Tone Matrix Calculator
  • Twelve Tone Row Analyzer
  • Underware Design DTAB
  • VBRhapsody
  • Visiv SharpEye
  • Widisoft WIDI Recognition System
  • Wusik Wusikstation VSTi
  • Xitona Software Voice Composer
  • XT Software energyXT
  • ZynAddSubFX

  • arts design entertainment sports and media

    industry stats

    SOC: 27-0000

    Total Employed: 1,843,600

    Average Annual Salary: $56,980