Composers and Arrangers



Composers create much of the music heard every day on radio and television, in theaters and concert halls, in the movie industry, on recordings and in advertising, on the Internet, and through any other medium of musical presentation. Composers write symphonies, concertos, and operas; scores for theater, television, and cinema; and music for musical theater, recording artists, and commercial advertising. They may combine elements of classical music with elements of popular musical styles such as rock, jazz, reggae, folk, and others....

Quick Facts


Median Salary



Employment Prospects



Minimum Education Level

High School Diploma



Several years' experience playing and writing music





Personality Traits



A few composers make huge annual incomes, while many make little or nothing. Some make a very large income in one or two years and none in succeeding years. While many composers receive royalties on repeat performances of their work, most depend on commissions to support themselves. Commissions vary widely according to the work and the industry for which the work will be performed. The U.S. Dep...

Work Environment

The physical conditions of a composer’s workplace can vary according to personal taste and what is affordable. Some work in expensive, state-of-the-art home studios, others in a bare room with an electric keyboard or a guitar. An aspiring composer may work in a cramped and cluttered room in a New York City tenement or in a Hollywood ranch home.

For the serious composer the work is likely...


Little or no change in employment of music directors and composers is projected from 2018 to 2028, according to the U.S. Department of Labor predict. Although there are no reliable statistics on the number of people who make their living solely from composing and/or arranging, the general consensus is that very few people can sustain themselves through composing and arranging alone. The field i...