Music Directors and Composers
Conduct, direct, plan, and lead instrumental or vocal performances by musical artists or groups, such as orchestras, bands, choirs, and glee clubs; or create original works of music.
Sample of reported job titles: Choir Director, Composer, Conductor, Film Composer, Liturgical Music Director, Music Composer, Music Director, Music Producer, Orchestra Director, Songwriter
Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Use gestures to shape the music being played, communicating desired tempo, phrasing, tone, color, pitch, volume, and other performance aspects.
- Direct groups at rehearsals and live or recorded performances to achieve desired effects such as tonal and harmonic balance dynamics, rhythm, and tempo.
- Study scores to learn the music in detail, and to develop interpretations.
- Apply elements of music theory to create musical and tonal structures, including harmonies and melodies.
- Consider such factors as ensemble size and abilities, availability of scores, and the need for musical variety, to select music to be performed.
- Determine voices, instruments, harmonic structures, rhythms, tempos, and tone balances required to achieve the effects desired in a musical composition.
- Experiment with different sounds, and types and pieces of music, using synthesizers and computers as necessary to test and evaluate ideas.
- Transcribe ideas for musical compositions into musical notation, using instruments, pen and paper, or computers.
- Audition and select performers for musical presentations.
- Plan and schedule rehearsals and performances, and arrange details such as locations, accompanists, and instrumentalists.
- Write musical scores for orchestras, bands, choral groups, or individual instrumentalists or vocalists, using knowledge of music theory and of instrumental and vocal capabilities.
- Position members within groups to obtain balance among instrumental or vocal sections.
- Perform administrative tasks such as applying for grants, developing budgets, negotiating contracts, and designing and printing programs and other promotional materials.
- Confer with producers and directors to define the nature and placement of film or television music.
- Meet with soloists and concertmasters to discuss and prepare for performances.
- Fill in details of orchestral sketches, such as adding vocal parts to scores.
- Explore and develop musical ideas based on sources such as imagination or sounds in the environment.
- Write music for commercial mediums, including advertising jingles or film soundtracks.
- Transpose music from one voice or instrument to another to accommodate particular musicians.
- Rewrite original musical scores in different musical styles by changing rhythms, harmonies, or tempos.
- Arrange music composed by others, changing the music to achieve desired effects.
- Assign and review staff work in such areas as scoring, arranging, and copying music, and vocal coaching.
- Study films or scripts to determine how musical scores can be used to create desired effects or moods.
- Transcribe musical compositions and melodic lines to adapt them to a particular group, or to create a particular musical style.
- Create original musical forms, or write within circumscribed musical forms such as sonatas, symphonies, or operas.
- Collaborate with other colleagues, such as copyists, to complete final scores.
- Copy parts from scores for individual performers.
- Coordinate and organize tours, or hire touring companies to arrange concert dates, venues, accommodations, and transportation for longer tours.
- Produce recordings of music.
- Stay abreast of the latest trends in music and music technology.
Find occupations related to multiple tasks
back to top
- Data base user interface and query software — Music Director Pro
- Desktop publishing software — Microsoft Publisher
- Electronic mail software — Microsoft Outlook
- Music or sound editing software — Audacity; Avid Technology Sibelius; XT Software energyXT; ZynAddSubFX (see all 77 examples)
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office
- Presentation software — MediaShout; Microsoft PowerPoint
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Video creation and editing software — Apple Final Cut Pro
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
back to top
- Fine Arts — Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
- Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
- Communications and Media — Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
- Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
- Philosophy and Theology — Knowledge of different philosophical systems and religions. This includes their basic principles, values, ethics, ways of thinking, customs, practices, and their impact on human culture.
back to top
- 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.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.
- Time Management — Managing one’s own time and the time of others.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
back to top
- Hearing Sensitivity — The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.
- Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Auditory Attention — The ability to focus on a single source of sound in the presence of other distracting sounds.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
back to top
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Communicating with People Outside the Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
- Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
back to top
Detailed Work Activities
- Coordinate musical rehearsals or performances.
- Study details of musical compositions.
- Create musical compositions, arrangements or scores.
- Determine presentation subjects or content.
- Audition or interview potential performers or staff members.
- Select staff, team members, or performers.
- Design layout of art or product exhibits, displays, or promotional materials.
- Direct fundraising or financing activities.
- Negotiate for services.
- Collaborate with others to prepare or perform artistic productions.
- Collaborate with others to determine technical details of productions.
- Coordinate artistic activities.
- Coordinate logistics for productions or events.
- Study scripts to determine project requirements.
- Operate audio recording equipment.
- Stay informed about current developments in field of specialization.
Find occupations related to multiple detailed work activities
back to top
- Electronic Mail — How often do you use electronic mail in this job?
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?
- Freedom to Make Decisions — How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
- Telephone — How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
- Face-to-Face Discussions — How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the image or reputation or financial resources of your employer?
- Time Pressure — How often does this job require the worker to meet strict deadlines?
- Spend Time Sitting — How much does this job require sitting?
- Level of Competition — To what extent does this job require the worker to compete or to be aware of competitive pressures?
- Work With Work Group or Team — How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?
- Frequency of Decision Making — How frequently is the worker required to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the image and reputation of the organization?
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — How much does this job require using your hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools or controls?
- Contact With Others — How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — How important is repeating the same physical activities (e.g., key entry) or mental activities (e.g., checking entries in a ledger) over and over, without stopping, to performing this job?
- Coordinate or Lead Others — How important is it to coordinate or lead others in accomplishing work activities in this job?
- Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — How much does this job require making repetitive motions?
- Deal With External Customers — How important is it to work with external customers or the public in this job?
- Letters and Memos — How often does the job require written letters and memos?
- Public Speaking — How often do you have to perform public speaking in this job?
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — How responsible is the worker for work outcomes and results of other workers?
back to top
|Title||Job Zone Four: Considerable Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor’s degree, but some do not.|
|Related Experience||A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an accountant must complete four years of college and work for several years in accounting to be considered qualified.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.|
|Job Zone Examples||Many of these occupations involve coordinating, supervising, managing, or training others. Examples include real estate brokers, sales managers, database administrators, graphic designers, chemists, art directors, and cost estimators.|
|SVP Range||(7.0 to < 8.0)|
back to top
back to top
Interest code: AES Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- Artistic — Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.
- Enterprising — Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
- Social — Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
back to top
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
- Independence — Job requires developing one’s own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
back to top
- Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
- Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
- Recognition — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.
back to top
back to top
Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2020)||$25.12 hourly, $52,250 annual|
|Employment (2020)||48,100 employees|
|Projected growth (2020-2030)||Average (5% to 10%)|
|Projected job openings (2020-2030)||6,000|
|Top industries (2020)||
Other Services (Except Public Administration)
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 wage data and 2020-2030 employment projections . “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.
back to top
Job Openings on the Web
back to top
Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- American Choral Directors Association
- American Federation of Musicians
- American Guild of Organists
- American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers
- American String Teachers Association
- Association of Lutheran Church Musicians
- Broadcast Music, Incorporated
- Choristers Guild
- Chorus America
- Conductors Guild
- Dramatists Guild
- Future of Music Coalition
- League of American Orchestras
- National Association for Music Education
- National Association of Pastoral Musicians
- National Association of Schools of Music
- National Association of Teachers of Singing
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Music directors and composers
- Percussive Arts Society
- Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
- SESAC Performing Rights
- The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers
- The College Music Society
- The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts
back to top
This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license. O*NET® is a trademark of USDOL/ETA.