Music therapists usually work as members of an interdisciplinary health care team that may include physicians, nurses, social workers, psychiatrists, and psychologists. Although often employed in medical and psychiatric hospitals, therapists also work in rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, day treatment facilities, shelters for battered women, pain and stress management clinics, children's homes, substance abuse programs, hospices, and correctional facilities. Others maintain their own private practices. Some music therapists work with children in grammar and high schools, either as therapists or as music teachers. Others teach or conduct research in the creative arts at colleges and universities.
Unpaid training internships (see the AMTA Web site at https://www.musictherapy.org for a list of internship opportunities) or assistantships that students complete during study for a bachelor's degree in music therapy often can lead to a first job in the field. Graduates can use the placement offices at their colleges or universities to help them find positions in the field. AMTA members can also access a list of job openings at the association's Web site.
Music therapists who are new to the field might consider doing volunteer work at a nonprofit community organization, correctional facility, or neighborhood association to gain some practical experience. Therapists who want to start their own practice can host group therapy sessions in their homes. Music therapists may also wish to associate with other members of the alternative health care field in order to gain experience and build a client base.
With experience, music therapists can move into supervisory, administrative, and teaching positions. Often, the supervision of interns can resemble a therapy session. The interns will discuss their feelings and ask questions they may have regarding their work with clients. How did they handle their clients? What were the reactions to what their clients said or did? What could they be doing to help more? The supervising therapist helps the interns become competent music therapists.
Tips for Entry
Join the American Music Therapy Association. Member benefits include conference and publication discounts, access to the members-only section of its Web site, scholarships, member-only job listings, networking opportunities, and other resources.
Become certified by the Certification Board for Music Therapists in order to show employers that you have met the highest standards established by your profession.
Participate in internships or part-time jobs that are arranged by your college’s career services office.
Read the Journal of Music Therapy, Music Therapy Perspectives, Music Therapy Matters, and the other publications (all available at https://www.musictherapy.org) to learn more about the field.