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 Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington provides a wide variety of opportunities, both career and educational, for music composers. There are currently 1,560 working music composers in Washington; this should grow 10% to about 1,710 working music composers in the state by 2016. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for music composers are expected to grow by about 10.0%. In general, music composers write and transcribe musical scores.

A person working as a music composer can expect to earn about $26 hourly or $55,270 annually on average in Washington and about $19 hourly or $41,270 yearly on average in the U.S. as a whole. Music composers earn more than people working in the category of Musical Entertainment generally in Washington and more than people in the Musical Entertainment category nationally. Music composers work in a variety of jobs, including: music adapter, songwriter, and record producer.

There are sixty-five schools of higher education in the Seattle area, including six within twenty-five miles of Seattle 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.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Music Composer

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 Seattle 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.
  • Art Director. Formulate design concepts and presentation approaches, and direct workers engaged in art work, layout design, and copy writing for visual communications media, such as magazines, books, and packaging.
  • 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.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Music Composer Training

Shoreline Community College - Shoreline, WA

Shoreline Community College, 16101 Greenwood Ave N, Shoreline, WA 98133-5696. Shoreline Community College is a medium sized college located in Shoreline, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 5,823 students. Shoreline Community College has 2 areas of study related to Music Composer. They are:

  • Music Management and Merchandising, associate's degree which graduated 10 students in 2008.
  • Music, Other Specialties, less than one year and associate's degree which graduated thirteen and twenty-three students respectively in 2008.

Northwest University - Kirkland, WA

Northwest University, 5520 108th Ave NE, Kirkland, WA 98083-0579. Northwest University is a small university located in Kirkland, Washington. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 1,310 students and an admission rate of 79%. Northwest University has 2 areas of study related to Music Composer. They are:

  • Religious/Sacred Music, bachelor's degree which graduated 3 students in 2008.
  • Music Theory and Composition, bachelor's degree which graduated 11 students in 2008.

University of Puget Sound - Tacoma, WA

University of Puget Sound, 1500 N Warner, Tacoma, WA 98416. University of Puget Sound is a small university located in Tacoma, Washington. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 2,829 students and an admission rate of 65%. University of Puget Sound has 2 areas of study related to Music Composer. They are:

  • Music Performance, bachelor's degree which graduated 5 students in 2008.
  • Music Management and Merchandising, bachelor's degree which graduated 1 student in 2008.

Cornish College of the Arts - Seattle, WA

Cornish College of the Arts, 1000 Lenora Street, Seattle, WA 98121. Cornish College of the Arts is a small college located in Seattle, Washington. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 815 students and an admission rate of 78%. Cornish College of the Arts has a bachelor's degree program in Music Performance which graduated twenty-one students in 2008.

University of Washington-Seattle Campus - Seattle, WA

University of Washington-Seattle Campus, 1400 NE Campus Parkway, Seattle, WA 98195-4550. University of Washington-Seattle Campus is a large university located in Seattle, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 39,675 students and an admission rate of 61%. University of Washington-Seattle Campus has 6 areas of study related to Music Composer. They are:

  • Music Performance, bachelor's degree, master's degree, and doctor's degree which graduated eight, two, and one students respectively in 2008.
  • Music Theory and Composition, doctor's degree which graduated 2 students in 2008.
  • Musicology and Ethnomusicology, bachelor's degree and master's degree which graduated one and four students respectively in 2008.
  • Conducting, master's degree and doctor's degree which graduated two and three students respectively in 2008.
  • Voice and Opera, bachelor's degree, master's degree, and doctor's degree which graduated two, seven, and four students respectively in 2008.
  • Music, Other Specialties, master's degree which graduated 3 students in 2008.

Trinity Lutheran College - Everett, WA

Trinity Lutheran College, 2802 Wetmore Ave., Everett, WA 98206. Trinity Lutheran College is a small college located in Everett, Washington. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 91 students and an admission rate of 60%. Trinity Lutheran College has a bachelor's degree program in Religious/Sacred Music which graduated two students in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

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.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington
Seattle, Washington photo by Dschwen

Seattle is located in King County, Washington. It has a population of over 598,541, which has grown by 6.2% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Seattle, 126, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in Seattle are valued at $206,700 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, five hundred ninety-five new homes were built in Seattle, down from seven hundred seventy-five the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Seattle are health care, professional, scientific, and technical services, and educational services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, construction, and educational services. The average commute to work is about 25 minutes. More than 47.2% of Seattle residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 17.3%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Seattle is 7.8%, which is less than Washington's average of 8.7%.

The percentage of Seattle residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 37.3%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Seattle is home to the Berth 5 and the Akli Point Lighthouse as well as Lincoln Park and Myrtle Edwards Park. Shopping centers in the area include Lake City Shopping Center, Westwood Village Shopping Center and Oak Tree Village Shopping Center. Visitors to Seattle can choose from A-1 Motel, Arlington Suites and Marriott Sea-Tac Airport for temporary stays in the area.