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Music Therapist

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Those with a love of music and an educational background in therapy can help those suffering from mental illness or other disorders to improve their mental health.

Music therapy uses an evidence-based approach of musical interventions to help individuals reach mental health goals.

What is a Music Therapist?

A music therapist can use music to help clients manage various mental disorders, from substance abuse to anxiety, and even brain injuries.

A music therapist will require schooling and additional training to become successful in their treatments.

What is a Music Therapist Called?

A music therapist is a generally accepted term for anyone that helps others to accomplish mental health goals through the use of music therapy.

What Does a Music Therapist Do?

A music therapist works with both adults and kids to help them reach their mental health goals.

They apply music therapy to help boost motor skills as well as cognitive abilities.

They are also useful in treatments to manage anxiety or even substance abuse.

Work Opportunities in the Music Therapist Industry

image showing a music therapist in a classroom full of kids

Music Therapist Job Description

A music therapist is a qualified therapist who uses music to help clients improve their overall emotional and mental well-being.

They do this by helping people work through and explore their feelings while building problem-solving skills.

They also assist those with learning and developmental disabilities, and conditions related to aging.

Passive listening, as well as active participation, are used to help patients learn things like progressive muscle relaxation.

Top Music Therapist Jobs and Careers

  • Music Therapist for Children
  • Music Therapist for Adults
  • Music Therapist for Disabled Patients

Where Can a Music Therapist Work?

Once someone is a credentialed member of the music therapy faculty, they can work in hospitals, clinics, rehab facilities, doctor’s offices, and even educational facilities.

Current Career Job Openings

If you are interested in a career as a music therapist, take a look at some of these current job openings.

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What It’s Like to be a Music Therapist

Is Being a Music Therapist Hard?

Once the required skills are present, the music therapist should have little difficulty in designing the therapy programs.

For someone untrained, the job would be incredibly hard.

Is a Music Therapist’s Job Stressful?

A music therapist’s job is designed to be the opposite of stressful, as musical therapy is supposed to increase relaxation and enjoyment.

Common Music Therapist Work Day

A typical work day for someone in the music therapist industry will include lots of musical interaction and patient observation.

They will assess their patient’s functioning levels and strengths, and their areas of need.

They will determine the sensory, affective, perceptual, cognitive, and physical abilities, as well as many others.

When they communicate with the patient it will be to build and help them acknowledge their progress and reactions.

The music therapist will personally design musical therapy exercises that address the needs of the patients.

This can include using music as self-care, helping them adjust to major life changes, boosting self-esteem, and improving cognitive functions.

Music Therapist Tasks & Duties

A music therapist will collaborate with other doctors to determine if a patient qualifies for music therapy.

If a patient qualifies, they will design musical interventions that relate to the patient’s goals and needs.

Then they will provide the actual musical therapy sessions while inviting the patients to interact.

They will be responsible for monitoring progress and even recording sessions when needed.

Music Therapist Work Hours & Schedule

The hours and schedule that music therapists work will depend on whether they operate a private practice or whether they work with a hospital or clinic.

In the cases of private practice, the music therapist is free to set their availability.

If employed by a hospital, clinic, or doctor’s office, however, the music therapist will be bound by their schedule.

This could mean working inconvenient hours or shifts or being on-call for certain timeframes.

Music Therapist Dress Code

There is no set dress code for a music therapist, and most will simply wear what is comfortable for the session.

Some other settings, such as a hospital, may set different dress code requirements for their therapists.

Does This Career Field Embrace Work/Life Balance?

If operating a private practice, the music therapist will be able to maintain their work/life balance.

They will be able to take time off when they want and set their hours.

When working for a treatment facility of any kind, however, this flexibility is not likely to be available.

Music Therapist Salary & Income

Someone working as a music therapist will make relatively good money.

Not only are they doctors, but music therapy is becoming more popular in general.

How Much Do Music Therapists Make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that a music therapist makes nearly double the median wages of other occupations.

A music therapist has an expected median wage of $81,270, versus the national average of about $45,760.

There is a significant gap between the lowest percentile and the highest, however.

The lowest 10% make just $31,000, while the highest 10% make more than $80,610.

Overview of the Music Therapist Industry

image showing a man listening to music in the office of a music therapist

Music Therapist Field: Career Progression

Music therapy degrees can often be the pinnacle of achievement for those looking to enter the field.

You will start with a bachelor’s degree, which will focus on human development as well as a musical education.

Once you have attained a musical therapy degree, you can also move into fields such as a counselor, music director, tutor or teacher of music, or even psychologist.

Is a Music Therapist a Good Career?

Those in the field regard becoming a music therapist as a great career move.

It involves helping others while enjoying music as well.

Music Therapist Job Outlook

The job availability for the music therapist career is projected to grow by 12% between 2020 and 2030.

This is more than the growth for other occupations, which stands at just 8%.

Demand for Music Therapists

Each year there are expected to be nearly 2,000 music therapist job openings between 2020 and 2030.

These are expected to be largely due to current professionals entering retirement, as well as others leaving the profession.

Music Therapist Facts

  • More than 1.6 million people are helped by music therapists each year
  • Music therapy is a fully-accredited therapy profession
  • Music therapy patients don’t need any musical background or experience
  • There is significant evidence and research behind music therapy

Jobs Related to Music Therapists

There are many jobs that overlap with the role of music therapist.

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists will help injured or disabled patients to adapt through the use of therapy incorporated into daily activities.

These everyday activities, or occupations, will help the patient cope with their disability, illness, or condition through physical rehabilitation.

Recreational Therapist

A recreational therapist uses various leisure activities to help patients with specific health issues to improve their abilities, skills, and overall health and wellness.

Art Therapist

An art therapist is a master-level clinician that works with a broad range of people in their spectrum of practice.

They use various forms of art media for healing and creative arts therapy activities.

Others include:

Requirements, Skills, and Education Required for Music Therapists

image showing a music therapist playing the piano

Who Should Consider a Music Therapist Career Path?

Individuals with a love of music and a passion for using therapy to help others are prime candidates for being successful music therapists and with music therapy work in general.

Who Should NOT Consider a Music Therapist Career Path?

Those that have no musical inclination are not well-suited to the music therapy career field.

Those that aren’t willing to put in the effort to attain a degree also aren’t ideal candidates.

Is it Hard to Become a Music Therapist?

Becoming a music therapist takes considerable effort and educational dedication.

It will require attaining a music therapy degree, which is a difficult task itself that requires significant dedication.

What Do I Need to Become a Music Therapist?

You will need to attain a music therapy degree first, or a therapy degree with a music minor.

Then, you will need to apply for a music therapy internship.

In many cases, however, you can do your internship at the same time as your schooling.

Then you will need to obtain your master’s degree, which will make you more easily employable as a music therapist.

What Skills Does a Music Therapist Need?

Becoming a music therapist requires that the aspiring therapist have good active listening skills, communication, compassion, critical thinking skills, mediation abilities, keen perception, and psychological background.

What Education Does a Music Therapist Need?

A music therapist will require, in most cases, a Ph.D. in music therapy.

Can You Become a Music Therapist Without a Degree?

No, you cannot become a music therapist without a degree.

You will need advanced degrees as well as certification from the American Music Therapy Association, and a license to operate as a therapist.

What Experience Does a Music Therapist Need?

A music therapist can gain experience and professional education by entering an internship program while still attaining their degree.

This helps build skills ahead of actively practicing.

Music Therapist Education & Schooling

image showing a music therapist holding a bell

The education and schooling to become a music therapist consist of a bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D., in music therapy.

What is Taught in a Music Therapist Course?

There are countless courses in anatomy, music education, research, neurology, ethics, and more.

Becoming a music therapist requires advanced doctoral degrees.

How Long Does a Music Therapist Course Take?

Totalling the time it will take to get all three degrees, you can expect to be in school for 8-10 years before being able to practice as a music therapist.

Bachelor’s Degree

Your bachelor’s degree will combine both coursework as well as clinical training in a healthcare setting.

You will need about 1,200 hours of training in a healthcare setting.

Master’s Degree

Following your bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to spend two additional years getting your master’s degree.

This will give you additional education in neuroscience, music therapy processes, composition, music therapy history, music theory, ethics, and instruction on treatment models.

Schools for Music Therapists

Any accredited college with a music therapy program can help you get the music therapy major degrees you need to become a music therapist.

Steps to Become a Music Therapist

Becoming a music therapist will require:

  1. Getting your bachelor’s degree in a music therapy degree program
  2. Completing an internship and gaining clinical experience
  3. Getting your master’s degree
  4. Getting your PhD
  5. Obtaining additional music therapist training
  6. Becoming a board certified music therapist and gaining licensure

Wrapping Up

Becoming a music therapist takes a considerable amount of time, effort, and education.

If you have a passion for music, helping people, and are ready to put in several years of education to obtain advanced degrees, a career as a music therapist could be perfect for you.

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