There are currently an estimated 74,800 composers in the United States. The composer job market is expected to grow by 5.7% between 2016 and 2026.

How employable are composers?

CareerExplorer rates composers with a D employability rating, meaning this career should provide weak employment opportunities for the foreseeable future. Over the next 10 years, it is expected the US will need 8,000 composers. That number is based on 4,300 additional composers, and the retirement of 3,700 existing composers.

Are composers in demand?

‘It is nearly a million-to-one odds that an aspiring composer will earn a living in his or her chosen field,’ says Los-Angeles based composer Jacob Yoffee. Following this rather discouraging assessment, Yoffee concedes that prospects are currently ‘a bit higher’ because of the emergence of filmmakers making movies independently of studios. These ‘indie’ films may marginally increase demand in this occupation, but their extremely low budgets are not likely to achieve recognition or notoriety for the composers who create their scores. If indeed the odds are stacked against them, aspiring composers must commit to extensive education in the field. This includes the mechanics of music: how to write music and how to work with the advancing technologies of recording, editing, and sampling software. Performing skills also add to a composer’s employability. In the words of Jacob Yoffee, ‘The ability to play the piano and guitar is the greatest asset to any film composer.’ Working on student films is another essential to build a portfolio, provide real world experience, and make important connections. In addition to these skills and experiences, there are also specific personality traits that serve composers well. Adaptability is imperative because as movie scenes are cut and rearranged, a composer will have to change and rework his or her composition. Composers who view their work as products and unchangeable masterpieces will be constantly disappointed. Those who see it as a service to a larger project – the film – and can manage deadlines, rewrites, and stress are far more likely to be satisfied and successful. In short, consummate composers do not love just music; they love both music and film; they are, in essence, both composers and filmmakers.

What’s the supply of composers?

The composer industry is concentrated in New York, California, Texas

Composer job market by state

State Name Employed Composers
New York 2,920
California 1,850
Texas 940
Ohio 820
Oregon 790
Florida 760
Illinois 750
Michigan 680
Virginia 530
Pennsylvania 460
Massachusetts 390
Tennessee 390
Georgia 380
Indiana 280
New Jersey 260
Minnesota 250
Connecticut 200
South Carolina 190
North Carolina 170
Montana 170
Kansas 160
Hawaii 160
Washington 160
Mississippi 140
Oklahoma 140
Missouri 130
Wisconsin 130
Utah 90
Maryland 90
Arizona 90
Colorado 80
Iowa 70
Louisiana 70
Alabama 70
Vermont 70
Nebraska 60
Rhode Island 50
New Hampshire 40
Idaho 40
New Mexico 40
Arkansas 30
Alaska 30