What’s The Typical Salary For Music Therapists?

It’s well know that the use of music can soothe, treat, and even lessen pain. No surprise then, that music therapy is highly beneficial in treating a range of ailments, whether they are physical or mental.

So, let’s take a look at what a music therapist does, what the salary is for music therapists, what they do, whether it’s a good career choice, and where music therapists get paid the best.

Read on to find out. 

A music therapist discussing with a patient.

What Is The Salary For Music Therapists?

Music therapists work in a range of settings, including medical hospitals, agencies, psychiatric hospitals, rehabilitative facilities, outpatient clinics, and in community health centers. Some may work in drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, halfway houses, private practices or even educational institutions. 

What this means is that music therapists (see also ‘How Much Do Art Therapists Make?‘) attain a range of salaries, and the wage depends on where they work, what states they work in, and what businesses they are affiliated with. 

That being said, the average salary for a music therapist is around $48,978 per year, which roughly translates to about $23.50 per hour.

On the lower end of the scale, the bottom 10% of music therapists earn around $36,000 per year, while at the higher end of the scale (in the top 10%) make around $63,000 per year. 

Where Do Music Therapists Make The Most Money?

There are many reports stating that California pays some of the highest wages for music therapists. In California, the average salary is about $68,000 per year which can range upwards of $90,000 for the highest earners.

Next up is North Dakota, with the average salary paying a wage of $57,319 per year, with the highest earners making up to $70,000 per year.

Towards the lower end of the scale is Florida, where the median pay is around $42,785.

It’s important to note that these salaries range depending on your specific role, your experience, and the company for which you work—of course. 

Man in a suit handing out bills of money.

What Does A Music Therapist Do?

Music therapists are not like other therapists. They work with people of all ages and backgrounds, utilizing music as a tool to help their clients. The use of music creates a therapeutic environment, where clients feel comfortable and relaxed enough to discuss and work through a range of issues.

Those issues may not be mental health or psychologically based

The issues that music therapy benefits are communicative, cognitive, physical and music therapy even helps those in need of assistance with social problems. As a music therapist, you need to assess the emotional health, physical health, communicative abilities, social functioning, and cognitive responses of a client through the use of music.

Music therapists need to choose and design musical sessions focused on the individual, based on their needs and requirements. 

It’s not just about listening to music. You use music improvisation, song writing, lyrics, music performance to work through a variety of physical and mental issues.

Music therapy benefits people from children to adults and the elderly. It’s even used to aid mothers in labor.

What Qualifications Do You Need To Be A Music Therapist?

To be a music therapist you will, of course, need to be trained in music, and you may need a music major, along with music therapy foundation courses, and at least a minor in Psychology.

Some universities offer music therapist degree courses. You can also apply to graduate programs in music therapy, for a Master’s degree in music therapy. You may  be eligible for such courses if you have a Bachelor’s in Music, or strong sense of musical experience such as being an experienced musician—even if you have no degree in music.

You will of course need to have clinical training in an approved mental health facility, before you can become certified. 

Then, you are permitted to complete the exam for the Certification Board For Music Therapists. Once doing so, you will achieve a certified credential; Music Therapist Board Certified (MT-BC).

In addition to this, you will need to look into the state specific requirements in order to be licensed and practice Music Therapy in the location of your choosing.

You will also need to to be able to assess the needs of your clients and how to develop treatment plans for them. 

Is Music Therapy A Good Career?

Music therapy is a great career choice, as the career prospects are very good. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Music therapy is expected to grow by 7% in the coming years, far quicker than other occupations.

The demand for Music Therapists is expected to grow vastly, with an increase of around 27% in new music therapy (and adjacent) jobs in the next few years. So, jumpstarting your career in music therapy is a great idea—now more than ever.

If you’re passionate about music, have a great knowledge of music theory and a desire to help others from all backgrounds, ages, and with a range of psychological and physical issues, then a career in music therapy may be  right for you.

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