Popular Careers

Career Development

Career development resources for aspiring professionals.

Career Change Center

Career change guides, tutorials and resources for professionals in transition.

Job Search Resources

Job search resources, websites, guides and directories for job seekers.

Career and Education Opportunities for Music Composers in Salem, Oregon

Salem, Oregon provides a wide variety of opportunities, both career and educational, for music composers. There are currently 600 jobs for music composers in Oregon and this is projected to grow 15% to 700 jobs by 2016. This is better than the national trend for music composers, which sees this job pool growing by about 10.0% over the next eight years. Music composers generally write and transcribe musical scores.

A person working as a music composer can expect to earn about $17 per hour or $35,500 per year on average in Oregon and about $19 per hour or $41,270 yearly on average in the U.S. as a whole. Incomes for music composers are better than in the overall category of Musical Entertainment in Oregon, and better than the overall Musical Entertainment category nationally. People working as music composers can fill a number of jobs, such as: music producer, copyist, and creative director.

There are seventeen schools of higher education in the Salem area, including three within twenty-five miles of Salem where you can get a degree to start your career as a music composer. Given that the most common education level for music composers is some college courses, you can expect to spend a short time studying to be a music composer if you already have a high school diploma.


In general, music composers write and transcribe musical scores.

Music composers apply elements of music theory to generate musical and tonal structures, including harmonies and melodies. They also decide on voices and tone balances required to produce the effects desired in a musical composition. Equally important, music composers have to experiment with different sounds, and types and pieces of music, using synthesizers and computers as needed to test and evaluate concepts. They are often called upon to write changes directly into compositions, or use computer software to make changes. They are expected to score compositions so that they are consistent with instrumental and vocal capabilities such as ranges and keys, using knowledge of music theory. Finally, music composers develop original musical forms, or write within circumscribed musical forms such as sonatas or operas.

Every day, music composers are expected to be able to note differences between sounds as they change tone and volume. It is also important that they articulate ideas and problems.

It is important for music composers to talk with producers and directors to define the nature and placement of film or television music. They are often called upon to study films or scripts to establish how musical scores can be used to generate desired effects or moods. Somewhat less frequently, music composers are also expected to write music for commercial mediums, including advertising jingles or film soundtracks.

Music composers sometimes are asked to copy parts from scores for individual performers. They also have to be able to accept commissions to generate music for special occasions and transpose music from one voice or instrument to another to deal with particular musicians. And finally, they sometimes have to transpose music from one voice or instrument to another to deal with particular musicians.

Like many other jobs, music composers must be reliable and believe in innovation and creative thought.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Salem include:

  • Actor. Play parts in stage, television, or motion picture productions for entertainment, information, or instruction. Interpret serious or comic role by speech, gesture, and body movement to entertain or inform audience. May dance and sing.
  • Artistic Director. Audition and interview performers to select most appropriate talent for parts in stage, television, or motion picture productions.
  • Camera Operator. Operate television, video, or motion picture camera to photograph images or scenes for various purposes, such as TV broadcasts, advertising, or motion pictures.
  • Choreographer. Create and teach dance. May direct and stage presentations.
  • Dancer. Perform dances. May also sing or act.
  • Film or Videotape Editor. Edit motion picture soundtracks, film, and video.
  • Fine Artist. Create original artwork using any of a wide variety of mediums and techniques.
  • Music Director. Direct and conduct instrumental or vocal performances by musical groups.
  • Musician. Play one or more musical instruments in recital, in accompaniment, or as members of an orchestra, band, or other musical group.
  • Singer. Sing songs on stage, radio, or motion pictures.
  • Writer. Create original written works.


Willamette University - Salem, OR

Willamette University, 900 State St, Salem, OR 97301. Willamette University is a small university located in Salem, Oregon. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 2,720 students and an admission rate of 66%. Willamette University has 2 areas of study related to Music Composer. They are:

  • Music Theory and Composition, bachelor's degree.
  • Voice and Opera, bachelor's degree.

Marylhurst University - Marylhurst, OR

Marylhurst University, 17600 Pacific Hwy - Hwy 43, Marylhurst, OR 97036-0261. Marylhurst University is a small university located in Marylhurst, Oregon. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 1,744 students. Marylhurst University has 2 areas of study related to Music Composer. They are:

  • Music Performance, one to two year and bachelor's degree.
  • Music Theory and Composition, one to two year and bachelor's degree.

Western Oregon University - Monmouth, OR

Western Oregon University, 345 N Monmouth Ave, Monmouth, OR 97361-1394. Western Oregon University is a medium sized university located in Monmouth, Oregon. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 5,179 students and an admission rate of 44%. Western Oregon University has a bachelor's degree program in Music, Other Specialties which graduated six students in 2008.


AmSAT Certified Teacher: Certified Alexander Technique Teachers have completed a 3 year, 1600 hour course at an AmSAT certified teacher training center.

For more information, see the American Society for the Alexander Technique website.


Salem, Oregon
Salem, Oregon photo by Aboutmovies

Salem is located in Marion County, Oregon. It has a population of over 153,435, which has grown by 12.1% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Salem, 97, is near the national average. New single-family homes in Salem are valued at $215,800 on average, which is above the state average. In 2008, two hundred sixty-nine new homes were constructed in Salem, down from five hundred forty-three the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Salem are health care, public administration, and educational services. For men, it is construction, public administration, and educational services. The average commute to work is about 22 minutes. More than 24.1% of Salem residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 8.8%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Salem is 10.2%, which is less than Oregon's average of 10.6%.

The percentage of Salem residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 37.6%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Salem is home to the Oregon Women's Correctional Center and the Oregon State Penitentiary as well as Waldo Park and Olinger Pool Park. Visitors to Salem can choose from Red Lion Hotel-Salem Reservations, Shilo Inn Salem and Econo Lodge Salem for temporary stays in the area.