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Music Composer or Arranger

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What is a Music Composer or Arranger?

Example of Music Composer or Arranger Job Write and transcribe musical scores.

Life As a Music Composer or Arranger: What Do They Do?

  • Copy parts from scores for individual performers.
  • 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.
  • Transcribe ideas for musical compositions into musical notation, using instruments, pen and paper, or computers.
  • Transpose music from one voice or instrument to another to accommodate particular musicians.
  • Study original pieces of music to become familiar with them prior to making any changes.

What Every Music Composer or Arranger Should Know

These are the skills Music Composers and Arrangers say are the most useful in their careers:

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 Jobs

  • Arranger
  • Songwriter
  • Music Producer
  • Record Producer
  • Copyist

Music Composer or Arranger Job Outlook

There were about 74,800 jobs for Music Composer or Arranger in 2016 (in the United States). 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. The BLS estimates 7,700 yearly job openings in this field.


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.

Music Composer or Arranger Salary

The typical yearly salary for Music Composers and Arrangers is somewhere between $21,640 and $112,820.


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

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Music Composers and Arrangers 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

Tools & Technologies Used by Music Composers and Arrangers

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Music Composers and Arrangers may use on a daily basis:

  • Audacity
  • Avid Technology Sibelius
  • MakeMusic Finale

Becoming a Music Composer or Arranger

Learn what Music Composer or Arranger education requirements there are.


How many years of work experience do I need?


Who Employs Music Composers and Arrangers?


Below are examples of industries where Music Composers and Arrangers work:



Image Credit: via Creative Commons CC0

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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