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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?

  • Collaborate with other colleagues, such as copyists, to complete final scores.
  • Confer with producers and directors to define the nature and placement of film or television music.
  • Accept commissions to create music for special occasions.
  • Arrange music composed by others, changing the music to achieve desired effects.
  • Copy parts from scores for individual performers.
  • Write music for commercial mediums, including advertising jingles or film soundtracks.

What Skills Do You Need to Work as a Music Composer or Arranger?

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.

  • Creative Director
  • Music Orchestrator
  • Arranger
  • Jingle Writer
  • Music Adapter

What Kind of Music Composer or Arranger Job Opportunities Are There?

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. 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.

Average Music Composers and Arrangers Salary

The salary for Music Composers and Arrangers ranges between about $21,640 and $112,820 a year.


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 or degrees do I need to become a Music Composer or Arranger?


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


Where Music Composers and Arrangers Work


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



Image Credit: via Creative Commons CC0

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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