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Summary Report for:
27-2041.04 - Music Composers and Arrangers

Write and transcribe musical scores.

Sample of reported job titles: Composer, Creative Director, Film Composer, Jingle Writer, Music Arranger, Music Composer, Music Producer, Songwriter

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Tasks  |  Tools & Technology  |  Knowledge  |  Skills  |  Abilities  |  Work Activities  |  Detailed Work Activities  |  Work Context  |  Job Zone  |  Education  |  Credentials  |  Interests  |  Work Styles  |  Work Values  |  Related Occupations  |  Wages & Employment  |  Job Openings  |  Additional Information

Tasks

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

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Tools & Technology

Tools used in this occupation:

  • Audio monitor — Studio recording monitors See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Cassette players or recorders — Audio tape recorders See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Desktop computers See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Digital audio workstation DAW — Digital audio workstations See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Drums — Drum sets See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Guitars — Acoustic guitars; Bass guitars See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Microphones — Condenser microphones See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Musical instrument digital interface MIDI interfaces — Musical instrument digital interface MIDI sequencers See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Notebook computers — Laptop computers See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Pianos — Grand pianos See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Synthesizer — Synthesizer keyboards See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Tablet computers See more occupations related to this tool.

Technology used in this occupation:

  • Music or sound editing software — Audacity *; Avid Technology Sibelius; XT Software energyXT; ZynAddSubFX * (see all 74 examples) See more occupations related to this technology.

* Software developed by a government agency and/or distributed as freeware or shareware.

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Knowledge

  • Fine Arts — Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture. See more occupations related to this knowledge.
  • Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming. See more occupations related to this knowledge.
  • Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction. See more occupations related to this knowledge.
  • English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar. See more occupations related to this knowledge.
  • Communications and Media — Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media. See more occupations related to this knowledge.
  • Sales and Marketing — Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems. See more occupations related to this knowledge.
  • Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources. See more occupations related to this knowledge.

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Skills

  • Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making. See more occupations related to this skill.

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Abilities

  • Hearing Sensitivity — The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer). See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity). See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events). See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations). See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Auditory Attention — The ability to focus on a single source of sound in the presence of other distracting sounds. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material. See more occupations related to this ability.

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Work Activities

  • Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Selling or Influencing Others — Convincing others to buy merchandise/goods or to otherwise change their minds or actions. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests. See more occupations related to this activity.

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Detailed Work Activities

  • Collaborate with others to determine technical details of productions. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Study scripts to determine project requirements. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Collaborate with others to prepare or perform artistic productions. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Create musical compositions, arrangements or scores. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Coordinate musical rehearsals or performances. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Study details of musical compositions. See more occupations related to this activity.

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Work Context

  • Structured versus Unstructured Work — 87% responded “A lot of freedom.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Electronic Mail — 77% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Freedom to Make Decisions — 79% responded “A lot of freedom.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Spend Time Sitting — 86% responded “Continually or almost continually.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Level of Competition — 57% responded “Extremely competitive.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 73% responded “Extremely important.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Telephone — 60% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 47% responded “Very important results.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 71% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 57% responded “Continually or almost continually.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Time Pressure — 45% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Frequency of Decision Making — 45% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 63% responded “Extremely important.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 47% responded “More than half the time.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Face-to-Face Discussions — 35% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Work With Work Group or Team — 29% responded “Very important.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Duration of Typical Work Week — 47% responded “More than 40 hours.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Contact With Others — 52% responded “Occasional contact with others.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Letters and Memos — 28% responded “Once a year or more but not every month.” See more occupations related to this work context.

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Job Zone

Title Job Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed
Education Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.
Related Experience 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.
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.
Job Zone Examples These occupations usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include food service managers, electricians, agricultural technicians, legal secretaries, occupational therapy assistants, and medical assistants.
SVP Range (6.0 to < 7.0)

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Education


Percentage of Respondents
Education Level Required
26   Some college, no degree
22   Bachelor's degree
16   Less than high school diploma

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Credentials

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Interests

Interest code: AE

  • Artistic — Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules. See more occupations related to this interest.
  • Enterprising — Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business. See more occupations related to this interest.

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Work Styles

  • Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job. See more occupations related to this work style.

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Work Values

  • Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement. See more occupations related to this work value.
  • Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy. See more occupations related to this work value.
  • Recognition — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status. See more occupations related to this work value.

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Related Occupations

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Wages & Employment Trends

Median wages data collected from Music Directors and Composers.
Employment data collected from Music Directors and Composers.
Industry data collected from Music Directors and Composers.

Median wages (2014) $23.16 hourly, $48,180 annual
State wages Local Salary Info
 
Employment (2012) 78,000 employees
Projected growth (2012-2022) Slower than average (3% to 7%) Slower than average (3% to 7%)
Projected job openings (2012-2022) 24,400
State trends Employment Trends
 
Top industries (2012)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 wage data external site and 2012-2022 employment projections external site. "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2012-2022). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.

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Job Openings on the Web

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Sources of Additional Information

Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.

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