How do I Become a Music Therapist?

how-do-i-become-a-music-therapistMusic therapy is a powerful profession for those seeking to use their artistic talents in a healthcare-related capacity. This career choice offers musicians the chance to share music in a powerful, life-changing way with individuals struggling with specific personal and physical challenges.

Simply put, music is used in a therapeutic sense, thus helping individuals to methodically master their unique situations. At first glance, a career in this area could easily be discounted as a lucrative option, but this notion is simply untrue. According to, this field boasts an impressive job placement rate in light of the copious hours of clinical internship opportunities offered by the program itself. The job possibilities are incredibly diverse, and graduates can seek employment in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and mental health institutions.

Professional Requirements for Aspiring Students

The American Music Therapy Association offers a comprehensive look at the requirements needed to complete the necessary certifications and begin a successful practice in this profession. For starters, a bachelor’s degree must be obtained from an AMTA-accredited university. Thankfully, over 70 college/universities meet these qualifications. The curriculum is concentrated on musical, music therapy, and clinical areas of study, and such an intense, diverse program of study is crucial to “bridging the gap” of the artistic nature of music with the technical side of a scientific field of study. Students must also complete at least 1200 hours of internship and clinical experience as a requirement for the bachelor’s degree.

Surprising Alternative Treatments for Mental Disorders

Although a bachelor’s degree in the field is a worthy option for the aspiring music therapist, students can also opt to earn a bachelor’s degree in a different field and complete an alternate certification program instead. This option, known as an equivalency program, offers a comparable alternative that prepares students for the rigors of the board exam. However, according to, this program will extend an individual’s career up to to years for the undergraduate degree and three years for the master’s degree.

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The Master’s Degree and Its Relevance

Although useful, the graduate degree isn’t a requirement for the music therapist. However, by earning such a specialized degree, graduates will enjoy more career options, such as university teaching/supervisory positions and more specialized opportunities in a designated branch of clinical practice areas. Advanced degrees will necessitate more clinical hours along with research opportunities in the field.

Getting Certified

Once a minimum of a bachelor’s degree is obtained, the path to professional certification begins. This honor, formally known as the MT-BC, is conferred by the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT). This certification program is the means of standardizing the clinic practice of the profession as a whole, thus providing professionals with a point of reference for their work and its quality. As a professional, there are three different standards that should be acknowledged: the standards of clinical practice, the code of ethics, and the professional competencies. Each standard provides useful details for both beginning and established professionals alike as they seek to offer patients the very best care possible.

Regardless of which path to certification an individual selects, this field offers an exhilarating opportunity for music enthusiasts to truly tap into the powerful possibilities of music and its dynamic, life-changing possibilities.


Becoming a Music Therapist