Find Schools

Study Area & Zipcode

Music Composer or Arranger

Find Schools Near

What is a Music Composer or Arranger?

Career Description Write and transcribe musical scores.

Life As a Music Composer or Arranger

  • Confer with producers and directors to define the nature and placement of film or television music.
  • Rewrite original musical scores in different musical styles by changing rhythms, harmonies, or tempos.
  • Determine voices, instruments, harmonic structures, rhythms, tempos, and tone balances required to achieve the effects desired in a musical composition.
  • Fill in details of orchestral sketches, such as adding vocal parts to scores.
  • Arrange music composed by others, changing the music to achieve desired effects.
  • Write music for commercial mediums, including advertising jingles or film soundtracks.

Music Composer or Arranger Required Skills

When polled, Music Composers and Arrangers say the following skills are most frequently used in their jobs:

Writing: Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

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.

Judgment and Decision Making: Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Coordination: Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.

Types of Music Composer or Arranger

  • Orchestrator
  • Composer Teaching Artist
  • Composer
  • Record Producer
  • Music Producer

Is There Going to be Demand for Music Composers and Arrangers?

In the United States, there were 74,800 jobs for Music Composer or Arranger in 2016. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 5.7% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 4,300 new jobs for Music Composer or Arranger by 2026. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 7,700 job openings in this field each year.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Music Composers and Arrangers in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Music Composer or Arranger are Colorado, Utah, and North Carolina. Watch out if you plan on working in Vermont, Kansas, or Wisconsin. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Salary for a Music Composer or Arranger

Music Composers and Arrangers make between $21,640 and $112,820 a year.

Salary Ranges for Music Composers and Arrangers

Music Composers and Arrangers who work in Minnesota, Georgia, or New Jersey, make the highest salaries.

How much do Music Composers and Arrangers make in different U.S. states?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $75,050
Arizona $57,810
California $64,600
Colorado $50,800
Connecticut $77,550
District of Columbia $77,220
Florida $72,420
Georgia $73,470
Hawaii $51,230
Illinois $40,220
Indiana $66,460
Iowa $52,430
Kansas $55,290
Kentucky $49,610
Louisiana $53,600
Maryland $58,570
Massachusetts $56,200
Michigan $51,180
Minnesota $88,570
Mississippi $53,000
Missouri $60,590
Montana $29,100
Nebraska $46,650
New Jersey $73,320
New Mexico $48,440
New York $66,120
North Carolina $48,920
Ohio $44,920
Oklahoma $38,530
Oregon $46,000
Pennsylvania $46,010
Rhode Island $64,200
South Carolina $53,700
Texas $61,210
Utah $57,780
Vermont $56,130
Washington $71,980
Wisconsin $71,350

What Tools do Music Composers and Arrangers Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Music Composers and Arrangers:

  • Audacity
  • Avid Technology Sibelius
  • MakeMusic Finale

Becoming a Music Composer or Arranger

What education is needed to be a Music Composer or Arranger?

Music Composer or Arranger Degree Level

How Long Does it Take to Become a Music Composer or Arranger?

Music Composer or Arranger Work Experience

Where do Music Composers and Arrangers Work?

Music Composer or Arranger Sectors

The table below shows the approximate number of Music Composers and Arrangers employed by various industries.

Music Composer or Arranger Industries


Image Credit: via Creative Commons CC0

More about our data sources and methodologies.

Featured Schools

Find Schools Near You

Our free school finder matches students with accredited colleges across the U.S.