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Music therapist

Music therapists use music and sound to help improve people's emotional well-being, relieve stress and build confidence.

Annual Salary

£31,365 to £44,503

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 39 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends; occasionally

Future employment

There will be 6% more Music therapist jobs in 2025.
In your local area

What's it all about?

Day to day tasks

Depending on where you work, you may help clients:

  • express themselves through sound and music
  • develop insight and creating ways of relating to other people
  • become aware of their feelings
  • interact with other people more confidently
  • bring about positive changes in their lives

You may work in group and one-to-one therapy sessions with clients who have:

  • learning disabilities
  • emotional, behaviour or mental health problems
  • speech and language difficulties
  • an injury or illness or are recovering from an addiction

You may alsowrite case notes; evaluate the effectiveness of therapy

Working environment

You could work in a therapy clinic, in a prison, in an NHS or private hospital or at a school.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship

You'll need to do a postgraduate course in music therapy accredited by the British Association for Music Therapy.

You should have a degree in music, although a degree in education or psychology may be accepted if you've got a high standard of musical ability.

You'll also need 1 or 2 years of paid or voluntary work experience to apply for a postgraduate course. Examples of work include:mental health; education; special needs; social services

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
For more information

You may be able to do an arts therapist degree apprenticeship.

You'll usually need a qualification and experience in art, drama or music to apply.

Entry requirements

To do this apprenticeship, you'll need:

  • a degree in a relevant subject for a degree apprenticeship
For more information
Volunteering and work experience

You'll need paid or voluntary experience of working in the community, in youth work, or with people with disabilities or mental health issues.

You could contact the voluntary services co-ordinator at your local NHS trust for further advice. Do-it also has information on voluntary opportunities in your area.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Career tips

You could try an introductory course in music therapy to get an idea of what this work involves. Some universities and music colleges offer these courses, as well as the British Association for Music Therapy.

Professional and industry bodies

You can join the British Association for Music Therapy, for professional recognition, career development and to make contact with other therapists.

Further information

You'll find more advice about careers and training in music therapy from the British Association for Music Therapy and Health Careers.

With experience, you could become self-employed and build up your own practice, or move into teaching.

You could also become a senior music therapist and manage a team of therapists or music therapy unit.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • knowledge of psychology
  • knowledge of the fine arts
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to work well with others
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • customer service skills
  • to enjoy working with other people
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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