How to Become a Music Therapist?

How to Become a Music Therapist?

How to Become a Music Therapist?
Rojina Raut

Music always serves as an effective stress reliever. When you listen to music, it not only reduces stress but also uplifts your mood. Music therapy is a heartwarming form of therapy that provides a dependable source of mental well-being. It contributes to enhancing mental health, memory skills, and communication abilities. 

Music therapy encompasses various activities such as singing, dancing, composing, and discussing music. While we often view music as a tool for stress reduction or leisure, it can also be a fulfilling career path. A Music Therapist enjoys a rewarding career and is recognized within medical contexts.




Temple University Boyer College of Music



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University of Miami Frost School of Music 

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Montclair State University



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What is a Music Therapist?

A Music Therapist is an individual who utilizes music as a means to address and alleviate a person's problems and stress. They work with individuals of all age groups, including children and the elderly. Their expertise extends to assisting people dealing with brain injuries, physical disabilities, mental health issues, and developmental disabilities. 

Music Therapists harness the power of music to address unspoken emotions, employing techniques like relaxation, guided imagery, and improvisation. They incorporate sound, music, and rhythm in a manner that engages and aids individuals or patients.

Job Responsibilities

A Music Therapist plays a multifaceted role, including:

  • Conducting music therapy sessions.
  • Maintaining comprehensive client progress records.
  • Encouraging clients to utilize musical instruments.
  • Fostering creative development in clients.
  • Documenting session notes and generating recommendations for future sessions.
  • Designing and delivering relevant music therapy sessions.
  • Providing progress reports to families or professional staff.
  • Actively participating in sessions by playing, singing, and listening to music.
  • Assisting clients in enhancing self-awareness.

Check Bachelor of Music in USA: Course Guide

A Step-By-Step Guide to Pursuing a Career as a Music Therapist

Follow these steps to embark on this journey:

Step 1 – Hone Your Musical Skills

Possessing a solid music foundation and consistently practicing it is crucial. Furthermore, no specific academic stream is required during your high school education to become a Music Therapist.

Step 2 – Enroll in a Music School

Attain a bachelor's degree in music therapy from a university. Your coursework may encompass music theory, behavioral sciences, disability studies, and general studies. Pursuing a master's or even a doctorate is an option for further specialization.

Step 3 – Gain Practical Experience

Acquire hands-on experience through internships at healthcare facilities, educational institutions, and rehabilitation centers approved by the AMTA.

Step 4 – Pursue Certification

Consider taking the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) certification exam as a self-assessment measure.

Step 5 – Certification Examination

Undergo the National Council For Therapeutic Recreation Certification examination to obtain a certificate. You will be designated as a licensed Music Therapist-Board Certified (MT-BC) upon successful completion. It's important to note that you must renew your certification every five years. Additionally, a degree in Complementary Health Care can be a valuable asset in this field.

Qualifications and Requirements

To pursue a career as a Music Therapist, candidates should ideally have music as their primary subject during their 12th-grade education, followed by completing a certificate or diploma course in Music Therapy. They should have a music, biology, psychology, physiology, and social and behavioral sciences background. A minimum of a B.A. degree in a related field is typically required.

For those seeking opportunities abroad, holding a bachelor's degree or higher in Music Therapy and certification from the Certification Board for Music Therapists are necessary. Registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) may also be required.


The salary of a Music Therapist varies depending on factors such as the type of practice, geographical location, level of experience, and qualifications. The minimum salary typically starts at INR 2,77,092, while senior professionals earn up to INR 4,69,075, with an average income of INR 3,76,209 in India.

Internationally, Music Therapists can earn a minimum of $31.7K (INR 24L), an average of $47.9K (INR 37L), and a maximum of up to $80.6K (INR 62L). There are numerous opportunities available for Music Therapists seeking employment abroad.

Educational Courses

Numerous universities offer undergraduate and postgraduate programs in music therapy. Here is an overview of these courses:

  1. Undergraduate Courses: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
  2. Undergraduate Diploma: Postgraduate Courses
  3. Master of Arts (M.A.): Postgraduate Diploma

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What educational background is needed to become a Music Therapist?

Typically, candidates should have a bachelor's degree in music therapy or a related field.

Is a specific high school stream required to pursue a career in Music Therapy?

No, there is no specific high school stream requirement, but a strong foundation in music can be advantageous.

What personal qualities are essential for a Music Therapist?

Being caring, empathetic, and possessing practical communication skills are crucial traits for a Music Therapist.

Do Music Therapists need to obtain certification?

Yes, certification is often required. Candidates may need to pass exams by organizations like the Certification Board for Music Therapists.

What kind of internship or practical experience is necessary for Music Therapists?

Gaining hands-on experience through internships at approved healthcare facilities or educational institutions is essential.

Is it possible to practice as a Music Therapist abroad?

Yes, but it usually requires a bachelor's degree or higher in Music Therapy and certification from relevant international bodies.

What is the salary range for Music Therapists in India?

Salaries can vary, but the minimum is around INR 2,77,092, with senior Music Therapists earning up to INR 4,69,075 on average.

What are the primary responsibilities of a Music Therapist in their role?

Music Therapists conduct therapy sessions, maintain records, encourage clients to use musical instruments, foster creativity, and provide progress reports to clients and professionals.

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