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The average salary of a film score composer

Film score composers are tasked with writing a film's musical soundtrack. This may be in the form of classical, opera or more modern forms of music. They will structure music based around the events that occur in a film. A high level of musical training is usually required for a career in film score composing.

National Salary Scales

On a national scale, the average wage for music directors and composers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was £34,716 a year in 2009. This average takes into account the salaries of all music composers, not just the ones working with film scoring. The median salary was £29,308, while the top 10 per cent earned more than £55,263 a year. The bottom 10 per cent earned less than £13,962 a year.

Salaries by Industry

Film composers working in the performing arts industry had an average salary of £46,546 a year in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This average salary represented the third-highest wage for all film composers, behind the salaries of independent writers, at £61,626, and those employed in junior colleges, at £53,306 a year. The performing arts sector was also the third-biggest employer, with a total of 1,960 film composers. This was behind those employed in elementary and secondary schools and those working with religious organisations.

Local Salary Scales

Film composers working in California had the second-highest salaries in the United States, at an average of £46,273 a year. The highest salaries were in Nevada, at an average of £64,486 annually. Film composers working in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale area enjoyed average salaries of £54,606 a year. In terms of city, this represented the third-highest in the United States, coming behind the Las Vegas-Paradise area in Nevada and the San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos area, also in California.


Film score composers, like all music composers, have an extensive background in musical education. This may be in the form of university or college education, private tutoring or both. Although this is not a formal requirement, music composing requires a great amount of musical knowledge and expertise. Mastery in at least one type of musical instrument is often required. Many music composers find employment with the film industry as there is a constant demand for new musical pieces.