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What is the Employment Outlook for Music Therapists?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the employment outlook for music therapists is excellent. To be specific, the job outlook for recreational therapists is expected to grow at 12 percent, which is faster than average. There are various reasons why the employment outlook is excellent for music therapists. This includes factors like new scientific research and changing social attitudes.

What Does Science Say?

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), scientific and clinical research by cognitive neuroscientists shows that music positively stimulates the brain in various ways. Music has the ability to transcend language barriers, promote healing and even summon hidden memories. Researchers have found that music is a highly structured aural experience that impacts everything from cognition to perception to motor control in the brain.

Music therapy can be effectively used to retrain and reeducate the brain’s functioning. Music therapists use songs, expression and movement to help their clients overcome problems, achieve goals and minimize mental health problems. Music therapists also contribute to clinical research findings by collecting and providing valuable data.

What Do Music Therapists Do?

Music therapists work with clients of different ages, such as children or the elderly, and different functioning levels, such as disable individuals or Alzheimer’s patients. They may exclusively work with clients with brain injuries, mental health problems, substance abuse problems or developmental disabilities. Music therapists use musical lessons, listening, performance and songwriting to improve the client’s social, physical, emotional or cognitive abilities.

Music therapists may work in hospices, adult schools, addiction recovery centers and special education programs. They often collaborate with nurses, physicians, counselors and physical therapists to help their clients reach their goals. Music therapists must have a passion for serving people that is reflected in their professional patience and persistence. They must also have creativity, compassion and understanding.

How to Become a Music Therapists?

Music therapists must have a bachelor’s degree that includes advanced courses in biology, psychology, physiology and l and behavioral sciences. Music therapy degree programs focus on music, behavioral sciences and music therapy. They usually offer supervised clinical experiences and four to six months off-campus internships. This is because state licensure requirements mandate that students must complete at least 1200 hours of fieldwork as interns in health or education-based settings.

Almost all music therapists obtain an MA or doctoral degree that combines advanced music therapy with specialized areas of study. These include concentrations in developmental disabilities, mental health, cross-culture studies and music therapy administration. Graduate-level degrees are recommended because these programs provide the opportunity for students to acquire theoretical concepts, research skills and practical tools that will meet the demanding needs of the clients served.

All music therapists must pass a certification test from the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) and maintain certification through earning recertification credits or passing the exam every five years. Those who successfully pass the exam will earn the designation of Music Therapist-Board Certified (MT-BC). Those who want to learn more can visit the American Music Therapy Association’s (AMTA) website and learn why the employment outlook for music therapists is expected to continue growing.


See also: Top 25 Master’s Degrees in Music Therapy 2016