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Become A Music Therapist

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Working As A Music Therapist

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Developing Objectives and Strategies
  • $54,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Music Therapist Do

Recreational therapists plan, direct, and coordinate recreation-based treatment programs for people with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses. These therapists use a variety of modalities, including arts and crafts; drama, music, and dance; sports and games; aquatics; and community outings to help maintain or improve a patient’s physical, social, and emotional well-being.

Duties

Recreational therapists typically do the following:

  • Assess patients’ needs through observations, medical records, tests, and discussions with other healthcare professionals, patients’ families, and patients
  • Create treatment plans and programs that meet patients’ needs and interests
  • Plan and implement interventions to prevent harm to a patient
  • Engage patients in therapeutic activities, such as exercise, games, and community outings
  • Help patients learn social skills needed to become or remain independent
  • Teach patients about ways to cope with stress, anxiety, or depression
  • Record and analyze a patient’s progress
  • Evaluate interventions for effectiveness

Recreational therapists help people reduce depression, stress, and anxiety; recover basic physical and mental abilities; build confidence; and socialize effectively.

They use activities, such as arts and crafts, dance, or sports, to help their patients. For example, a recreational therapist can help a patient who is paralyzed on one side of their body by teaching them to adapt activities, like casting a fishing rod or swinging a golf club, by using their functional side.

Therapists often treat specific groups of patients, such as children with cancer. Therapists may use activities such as kayaking or a ropes course to teach patients to stay active and to form social relationships.

Recreational therapists help people with disabilities integrate into the community by teaching them how to use community resources and recreational activities. For example, therapists may teach a patient who uses a wheelchair how to use public transportation.

Therapists may also provide interventions for patients who need help developing social and coping skills. For example, a therapist may use a therapy dog to help patients manage their depression or anxiety.

Therapists may work with physicians or surgeons, registered nurses, psychologists, social workers, physical therapists, teachers, or occupational therapists. Recreational therapists are different from recreation workers, who organize recreational activities primarily for enjoyment.

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How To Become A Music Therapist

Recreational therapists typically need a bachelor’s degree. Many employers require therapists to be certified by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC).

Education

Recreational therapists typically need a bachelor’s degree, usually in recreational therapy or a related field such as recreation and leisure studies.

Recreational therapy programs include courses in assessment, human anatomy, medical and psychiatric terminology, characteristics of illnesses and disabilities, and the use of assistive devices and technology. Bachelor’s degree programs usually include an internship.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most employers, particularly those in hospitals and other clinical settings, prefer to hire certified recreational therapists. The NCTRC offers the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) credential. Candidates may qualify for certification through one of two pathways. The first option requires a bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy, which includes the completion of a supervised internship of at least 560 hours, and passing an exam. The second option also requires passing an exam, but allows candidates with a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated subject to qualify with a combination of education and work experience. Therapists must take continuing education classes to maintain certification.

NCTRC also offers specialty certification in five areas of practice: behavioral health, community inclusion services, developmental disabilities, geriatrics, and physical medicine/rehabilitation. Therapists also may earn certificates from other organizations to show proficiency in specific therapy techniques, such as aquatic therapy or aromatherapy.

As of 2014, only New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Utah required recreational therapists to obtain a license. Requirements vary by state. For specific requirements, contact the state’s medical board.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Recreational therapists should be kind and empathetic when providing support to patients and their families. They may deal with patients who are in pain or under emotional stress.

Leadership skills. Recreational therapists must be able to plan, develop, and implement intervention programs in an effective manner. They must be engaging and able to motivate patients to participate in a variety of therapeutic activities.

Listening skills. Recreational therapists must listen carefully to a patient’s problems and concerns. They can then determine an appropriate course of treatment for that patient.

Patience. Recreational therapists may work with some patients who require more time and special attention than others.

Resourcefulness. Recreational therapists customize treatment plans for patients. They must be both creative and flexible when adapting activities or programs to each patient’s needs.

Speaking skills. Recreational therapists need to communicate well with their patients. They must give clear directions during activities or instructions on healthy coping techniques.

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Music Therapist Demographics

Gender

Female

76.6%

Male

20.5%

Unknown

2.9%
Ethnicity

White

65.5%

Hispanic or Latino

11.4%

Black or African American

11.2%

Asian

8.8%

Unknown

3.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

40.9%

French

13.6%

Chinese

9.1%

Italian

9.1%

Korean

6.8%

Mandarin

4.5%

Portuguese

2.3%

Braille

2.3%

Dakota

2.3%

Javanese

2.3%

German

2.3%

Carrier

2.3%

Kinyarwanda

2.3%
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Music Therapist Education

Schools

New York University

8.6%

Florida State University

8.6%

Temple University

7.7%

Shenandoah University

7.3%

Drexel University

6.4%

Colorado State University

6.0%

Berklee College of Music

5.2%

Radford University

4.7%

Lesley University

4.7%

Molloy College

4.7%

Illinois State University

4.3%

State University of New York College at New Paltz

4.3%

Ohio University -

3.9%

Immaculata University

3.9%

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

3.4%

University of Miami

3.4%

Montclair State University

3.4%

Sam Houston State University

3.4%

Western Michigan University

3.0%

University of Kansas

3.0%
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Majors

Rehabilitation Science

63.0%

Music

6.8%

Social Work

3.4%

Education

3.4%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.8%

Physical Therapy

2.5%

Psychology

2.3%

Special Education

2.1%

Business

1.9%

School Counseling

1.7%

Mental Health Counseling

1.7%

Counseling Psychology

1.3%

Family Therapy

1.1%

Clinical Psychology

1.1%

Theology

1.1%

Health Care Administration

0.9%

Elementary Education

0.8%

Nursing

0.8%

Educational Leadership

0.8%

Management

0.6%
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Degrees

Masters

43.4%

Bachelors

34.7%

Other

13.8%

Certificate

3.8%

Doctorate

2.7%

Associate

1.2%

Diploma

0.3%
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Real Music Therapist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Music Therapist Taylor's Music Store & Studios West Chester, PA Oct 01, 2010 $73,045
Music Therapist Institute for Music and Neurologic Function New York, NY Sep 15, 2012 $73,045
Music Therapist Institute for Music and Neurologic Function New York, NY Feb 29, 2016 $73,045
Music Therapist Institute for Music and Neurologic Function New York, NY Sep 25, 2012 $73,045
Music Therapist Metro Music Therapy, Inc. CO Sep 21, 2012 $64,697
Music Therapist Institute for Music and Neurologic Function New York, NY Oct 01, 2010 $62,610
Music Therapist The Ohio State University Columbus, OH Jul 01, 2010 $62,360
Music Therapist Coalinga State Hospital Coalinga, CA Sep 15, 2014 $62,000
Music Therapist Coalinga State Hospital Coalinga, CA May 17, 2011 $61,898
Music Therapist Coalinga State Hospital Coalinga, CA Oct 01, 2011 $61,898
Music Therapist Camphill Communities California Soquel, CA Aug 01, 2011 $60,000
Recreational Therapist/Music Therapist II South Shore Mental Health Center, Inc. Quincy, MA May 02, 2016 $49,920
Music Therapist Arts Educator Group, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Sep 22, 2016 $48,110
Recreational Therapist/Music Therapist South Shore Mental Health Center Inc. Quincy, MA Mar 03, 2014 $47,840
Music Therapist Meaningful Day Services Inc. Brownsburg, IN May 05, 2016 $45,914 -
$50,088
Music Therapist Nationwide Children's Hospital, Inc. Columbus, OH Nov 05, 2012 $45,914
Music Therapist Grafton Schools Inc. Berryville, VA Apr 30, 2011 $45,359
Music Therapist Grafton Schools, Inc. Berryville, VA Oct 01, 2012 $45,359
Music Therapist The Center for Neurological and Neurodevelopmental Gibbsboro, NJ Sep 19, 2013 $38,526
Music Therapist The Center for Neurological and Neurodevelopmental Rochelle Park, NJ Sep 19, 2013 $38,526
Music Therapist Behavior Services & Therapy South Bend, IN Sep 06, 2010 $38,025
Music Therapist Behavior Services & Therapy, Inc. South Bend, IN Sep 06, 2010 $38,025
Music Therapist Mimi Sinclair Cincinnati, OH Apr 01, 2010 $37,752
Music Therapist Heartshare-Human Services of New York Richmond, NY Aug 01, 2013 $37,590
Music Therapist Heartshare Human Services of New York New York, NY Aug 16, 2010 $37,590
Music Therapist (Rehabilitation) Therapeutic Life Skills, Inc. Arlington, TX Oct 01, 2011 $37,587

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AVERAGE SALARY FOR A Music Therapist

Average Yearly Salary
$54,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$34,000
Min 10%
$54,000
Median 50%
$54,000
Median 50%
$54,000
Median 50%
$54,000
Median 50%
$54,000
Median 50%
$54,000
Median 50%
$54,000
Median 50%
$86,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
VITAS Healthcare Corporation
Highest Paying City
San Francisco, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
4.1 years
How much does a Music Therapist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Music Therapist in the United States is $54,676 per year or $26 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $34,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $86,000.

How Would You Rate The Salary Of a Music Therapist?

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Top Skills for A Music Therapist

  1. Art Therapist
  2. Group Therapy Sessions
  3. Treatment Plans
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Collaborated on a multidisciplinary team that included a child psychologist, art therapist, occupational therapists, and early childhood teachers.
  • Supervised interns during group therapy sessions.
  • Maintain the clinical and administrative documentation, including progress notes, treatment plans, and departmental requirements associated with services rendered.
  • Supplied individual and group Music Therapy for low, moderate and high functioning adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • Provided individual and group music therapy services for children and adolescents with special needs * Performed necessary documentation detailing students progress

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Top 10 Best States for Music Therapists

  1. Nevada
  2. Minnesota
  3. Kentucky
  4. Ohio
  5. New Jersey
  6. Idaho
  7. Arkansas
  8. District of Columbia
  9. New Mexico
  10. Utah
  • (14 jobs)
  • (96 jobs)
  • (19 jobs)
  • (213 jobs)
  • (57 jobs)
  • (18 jobs)
  • (14 jobs)
  • (18 jobs)
  • (9 jobs)
  • (35 jobs)

Top Music Therapist Employers

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Jobs From Top Music Therapist Employers

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