Music Directors and Composers

Annual Earnings Percentiles

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What Music Directors and Composers Do

Music directors, also called conductors, lead orchestras and other musical groups during performances and recording sessions. Composers write and arrange original music in a variety of musical styles.

Work Environment

Music directors work for religious organizations and schools. They also work in concert halls and recording studios. Music directors may spend a lot of time traveling to different performances. Composers can work in offices, recording studios, or their own homes.

How to Become a Music Director or Composer

Educational and training requirements for music directors and composers vary, although most positions require related work experience. A music director or conductor for a symphony orchestra typically needs a master’s degree; a choir director may need a bachelor’s degree. There are no formal educational requirements for those interested in writing popular music.

College Majors

Showing data from the American Community Survey for the following US Census occupation categories:

  • Musicians, singers, and related workers

Bachelor's degree majors are shown.

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    Job Outlook

    Employment of music directors and composers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2014 to 2024, slower than the average for all occupations. The number of people attending musical performances, such as symphonies and concerts, and theatrical performances, such as ballets and musical theater, is expected to increase moderately. Despite expected growth, tough competition for jobs is anticipated because of the large number of people interested in entering this field.

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    Job Trends for Music Directors and Composers

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    This occupation supported 77,600 jobs in 2012 and 82,100 jobs in 2014, reflecting an increase of 5.8%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to increase by 4.5% in 2022 to 81,100 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 78,300, compared with an observed value of 82,100, 4.9% higher than expected. This indicates current employment trends are better than the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to increase by 3.4% in 2024 to 84,700 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 81,800 jobs for 2024, 3.4% lower than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are better than the 2012 trend within this occupation.