Music therapy is becoming an in-demand profession in the United States. A music therapist often has a talent for music and would like to use that to help disabled or troubled children and adults by teaching them instruments, singing, movement or just anxiety relief by listening. All music therapists must be trained and licensed, but salaries can vary based on level of education, location and amount of experience.
To enter the field as a music therapist, you will need at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited university or college, most likely in music therapy. In addition, you will need to be certified by the Certification Board for Music Therapists Inc. (CBMT). If you already have a degree in psychology or music, you will have to complete a degree equivalency program in music therapy or start another bachelor's degree. Internships are also sometimes required as music therapy jobs are often limited to the most qualified.
As with any profession, the salary of a music therapist can vary greatly depending on location. More affluent areas may pay more for these positions, as well as music therapy jobs in high cost of living places. For example, a music therapist at the top end of the salary data in New York City will make $49,132, as opposed to $45,845 in Washington, D.C. The national average ranges between $32,705 and $47,473.
Level of Credentials and Experience
Another common factor when it comes to deciding the salary for a music therapist is education. Someone with a master's degree is almost certainly more likely to make more money than a music therapist with only a bachelor's degree. Experience is also important, not only regarding the number of years you have worked as a certified music therapist but also the range of working environments you have experienced. Highly educated and experienced music therapists can make $77,000 a year or more.
Types of Music Therapy Positions
The most common employers of music therapists include general and psychiatric hospitals, rehabilitation centers, day cares, nursing homes or private clients. State-controlled positions likely will pay a flat salary that could be lower than that of a private institution or client. Owning your own private practice will give you the power of setting your own fees. If you have a master's degree and/or doctorate and a lot of experience, you may be eligible for a prestigious and well-paid position at a university or research hospital.