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What Does it Take to Be a Music Therapist?

Job Description & Duties Plan, organize, or direct medically prescribed music therapy activities designed to positively influence patients' psychological or behavioral status.

Life As a Music Therapist

  • Identify and respond to emergency physical or mental health situations.
  • Communicate client assessment findings and recommendations in oral, written, audio, video, or other forms.
  • Apply selected research findings to practice.
  • Participate in continuing education.
  • Customize treatment programs for specific areas of music therapy, such as intellectual or developmental disabilities, educational settings, geriatrics, medical settings, mental health, physical disabilities, or wellness.
  • Analyze or synthesize client data to draw conclusions or make recommendations for therapy.

Qualities of a Music Therapist

When polled, Music Therapists say the following skills are most frequently used in their jobs:

Social Perceptiveness: Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Service Orientation: Actively looking for ways to help people.

Other Music Therapist Job Titles

  • Clinician
  • Music Therapist
  • Board Certified Music Therapist
  • Music Therapist, Public School System
  • Community Music Therapist

What Kind of Music Therapist Job Opportunities Are There?

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 19,200 jobs in the United States for Music Therapist. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 6.8% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 1,300 new jobs for Music Therapist by 2026. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 1,200 job openings in this field each year.

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The states with the most job growth for Music Therapist are Alaska, Colorado, and Washington. Watch out if you plan on working in Alabama, Wyoming, or Vermont. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Music Therapist Average Salary

The average yearly salary of a Music Therapist ranges between $29,590 and $77,050.

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Music Therapists who work in California, District of Columbia, or Nevada, make the highest salaries.

How much do Music Therapists make in each U.S. state?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $42,860
Arizona $49,440
Arkansas $50,170
California $75,810
Colorado $49,300
Connecticut $59,450
Delaware $46,320
District of Columbia $68,430
Florida $48,290
Georgia $43,950
Hawaii $55,470
Idaho $40,770
Illinois $46,620
Indiana $42,280
Iowa $52,470
Kansas $35,850
Kentucky $45,330
Louisiana $41,180
Maine $49,390
Maryland $48,690
Massachusetts $55,570
Michigan $51,280
Minnesota $54,660
Mississippi $38,470
Missouri $46,000
Montana $44,730
Nebraska $39,420
Nevada $58,480
New Hampshire $46,660
New Jersey $58,220
New Mexico $38,680
New York $55,370
North Carolina $47,600
North Dakota $43,910
Ohio $45,750
Oklahoma $37,760
Oregon $55,410
Pennsylvania $45,900
Rhode Island $49,310
South Carolina $42,240
South Dakota $50,480
Tennessee $41,660
Texas $43,070
Utah $48,230
Vermont $43,120
Virginia $47,590
Washington $59,860
Wisconsin $44,970
Wyoming $50,170

Tools & Technologies Used by Music Therapists

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Music Therapists:

  • Microsoft Office
  • Web browser software
  • Email software
  • Electronic health record EHR software
  • Avid Technology Pro Tools
  • Musical instrument digital interface MIDI software
  • Virtual instrument software

Becoming a Music Therapist

Learn what Music Therapist education requirements there are.

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How many years of work experience do I need?

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Where Music Therapists Are Employed

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The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.

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References:

Image Credit: Barbara E. Carver via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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