Becoming a Music Therapist: What You Need to Know

Becoming a Music Therapist: What You Need to Know

Are you passionate about music and helping others? If so, becoming a music therapist may be the perfect career path for you. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about becoming a music therapist, including the education and training required, job outlook, and the benefits of pursuing this rewarding profession. Whether you are a music lover looking to make a difference in people’s lives or a healthcare professional interested in incorporating music into your practice, this guide will provide you with valuable insights into the world of music therapy.

Education and Training Requirements

To become a music therapist, individuals must meet certain education and training requirements. These requirements typically include obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in music therapy, completing an internship or clinical training, and obtaining certification and licensure.

Bachelor’s degree in music therapy

One of the key requirements to become a music therapist is obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in music therapy. This degree program typically includes coursework in music theory, psychology, anatomy and physiology, and therapeutic techniques. Students also learn how to use music as a tool for communication, expression, and healing.

Internship or clinical training

In addition to completing a Bachelor’s degree in music therapy, individuals must also complete an internship or clinical training program. This hands-on experience allows aspiring music therapists to work with clients in a supervised setting, applying their knowledge and skills in real-world scenarios. Internships provide valuable practical experience and help students develop the necessary competencies to become successful music therapists.

Certification and licensure

After completing their education and training, individuals must obtain certification and licensure to practice as a music therapist. Certification requirements vary by state, but typically involve passing a national certification exam and completing a certain number of supervised clinical hours. Licensure is required in some states and ensures that music therapists meet certain standards of practice and ethics. By obtaining certification and licensure, music therapists demonstrate their commitment to professionalism and excellence in the field.

Skills and Qualities

Aspiring music therapists require a unique set of skills and qualities to succeed in this rewarding career. Here are some essential attributes to possess:

Musical proficiency

A strong background in music is essential for a music therapist. Proficiency in playing instruments, reading music notation, and understanding music theory are critical skills to have. Music therapists often use a variety of instruments in their sessions to engage clients and facilitate healing.

Empathy and compassion

Empathy and compassion are key qualities that a music therapist must possess. As they work with clients who may be dealing with emotional or physical challenges, it is important for music therapists to show understanding and empathy towards their clients’ struggles. Being compassionate allows music therapists to create a safe and supportive environment for their clients to express themselves through music.

Communication skills

Effective communication skills are crucial for a music therapist to effectively connect with their clients. Music therapists must be able to listen actively to their clients’ needs and communicate clearly and empathetically. Strong communication skills are essential for building trust and rapport with clients, as well as collaborating with other healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive care.

Job Outlook and Salary

Growth in the field

The field of music therapy is expected to see a steady increase in demand in the coming years. As more research is conducted on the benefits of music therapy for various populations, including those with mental health issues, disabilities, and chronic illnesses, the need for qualified music therapists is expected to grow. This growth is also being driven by the increasing recognition of the importance of mental health and holistic approaches to healthcare.

Average salary range

The average salary for a music therapist can vary depending on factors such as location, experience, and work setting. On average, music therapists can expect to earn a salary ranging from $40,000 to $70,000 per year. Music therapists who work in hospitals, schools, or private practice may earn higher salaries than those working in community settings or non-profit organizations.

Work settings

Music therapists can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, mental health facilities, nursing homes, and private practice. They may also work with specific populations such as children with developmental disabilities, individuals recovering from substance abuse, or older adults with dementia. The flexibility of the field allows music therapists to choose a work setting that aligns with their interests and career goals.


In conclusion, becoming a music therapist is a rewarding and fulfilling career path that requires a combination of musical skills, empathy, and a desire to help others. By completing the necessary education and training, obtaining the required certifications, and gaining practical experience working with diverse populations, aspiring music therapists can make a positive impact on the lives of their clients. It is a field that continues to grow and evolve, offering endless opportunities for personal and professional growth. If you have a passion for music and a desire to make a difference in the world, pursuing a career as a music therapist may be the perfect choice for you.