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
Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | 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
- 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.
- Music or sound editing software — Audacity; Avid Technology Sibelius; XT Software energyXT; ZynAddSubFX (see all 74 examples)
- Audio monitor — Studio recording monitors
- Cassette players or recorders — Audio tape recorders
- Desktop computers
- Digital audio workstation DAW — Digital audio workstations
- Drums — Drum sets
- Guitars — Acoustic guitars; Bass guitars
- Microphones — Condenser microphones
- Musical instrument digital interface MIDI interfaces — Musical instrument digital interface MIDI sequencers
- Notebook computers — Laptop computers
- Pianos — Grand pianos
- Synthesizer — Synthesizer keyboards
- Tablet computers
- Fine Arts — Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- 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.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- 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.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Hearing Sensitivity — The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.
- 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.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- 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).
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- 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).
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- 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.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Auditory Attention — The ability to focus on a single source of sound in the presence of other distracting sounds.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- 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.
- 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.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- 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.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Selling or Influencing Others — Convincing others to buy merchandise/goods or to otherwise change their minds or actions.
- 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.
Detailed Work Activities
- Create musical compositions, arrangements or scores.
- Coordinate musical rehearsals or performances.
- Collaborate with others to determine technical details of productions.
- Study details of musical compositions.
- Study scripts to determine project requirements.
- Collaborate with others to prepare or perform artistic productions.
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 87% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Electronic Mail — 77% responded “Every day.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 79% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 86% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Level of Competition — 57% responded “Extremely competitive.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 73% responded “Extremely important.”
- Telephone — 60% responded “Every day.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 47% responded “Very important results.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 71% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 57% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Time Pressure — 45% responded “Every day.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 45% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 63% responded “Extremely important.”
- Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 47% responded “More than half the time.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 35% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 29% responded “Very important.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 47% responded “More than 40 hours.”
- Contact With Others — 52% responded “Occasional contact with others.”
- Letters and Memos — 28% responded “Once a year or more but not every month.”
|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 hydroelectric production managers, travel guides, electricians, agricultural technicians, barbers, court reporters, and medical assistants.|
|SVP Range||(6.0 to < 7.0)|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
|26||Some college, no degree|
|16||Less than high school diploma|
Interest code: AE Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- 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.
- 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.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- 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.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
- 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.
- Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
- 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.
Wages & Employment Trends
Median wage data for Music Directors and Composers.
Employment data for Music Directors and Composers.
Industry data for Music Directors and Composers.
|Median wages (2019)||$24.84 hourly, $51,670 annual|
|Employment (2018)||64,700 employees|
|Projected growth (2018-2028)||Little or no change (-1% to 1%)|
|Projected job openings (2018-2028)||7,800|
|Top industries (2018)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019 wage data and 2018-2028 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2018-2028). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.
Job Openings on the Web
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.
- American Federation of Musicians
- American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers
- Broadcast Music, Incorporated
- Dramatists Guild
- National Association for Music Education
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Music directors and composers
- Percussive Arts Society
- Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
- SESAC Performing Rights
- The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers