Frequently Asked Questions - Music Therapy Career

One must complete a four year music therapy degree program approved by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). Many colleges and universities offer AMTA-approved music therapy programs and a complete list can be found on AMTA’s website. After completing four years of college, one must then complete a 6-9 month AMTA approved internship. Internship sites can be found all over the United States and also include work with a wide variety of populations in a variety of settings. After completing the internship, one must take (and pass) the board examination to become a Music Therapist, Board Certified. The credential is designated as MT-BC. Music therapists must renew their certification every 5 years.

Both of these questions can be answered at the AMTA website.

  • To find a Music Therapist in your area, simply email AMTA and give them the 5 digit zip code in your area. From their database, they will send back to you a listing of all music therapists in your area.
  • To find a Music Therapy degree program email and request a listing of all the universities in the United States which offer an accredited degree program in Music Therapy.  AMTA will send you a complete listing of all the undergraduate and graduate programs.

Spend the time to research and explore Music Therapy as a good fit for you before investing your time and money in a degree. Often people make this choice before ever visiting or volunteering in a real clinical setting or environment. Most Music Therapists enter the field due to their music experience but have had very little exposure to clinical work. I strongly recommend volunteering at your local hospital, nursing home, development center, school, day care, etc. Most music therapists leave the field after three years of clinical practice largely due to not having a realistic expectation of what it is like being a clinician. The other area of importance is clear financial expectations and planning. Setup for yourself conversations with clinicians in areas you believe you would like to work. Study average salary ranges in these areas. Begin to have conversations with people you trust about what type of lifestyle you want to be living in 3-5, 5-10 and 10-20 years. If this type of lifestyle fits comfortably within the average salary range of a Music Therapist in your area, you have a stronger likelihood of staying in and building a sustainable career in Music Therapy. Be clear in your planning. Do you desire to stay in clinical work; pursue academic and collegiate positions; or progress into administrative, management or business areas? Salary potential will be influenced by your planning in these three areas.