A couple of weeks ago we shared an article that mentioned music therapy as one of the most meaningful careers one can study. The article also mentioned how much music therapists and other professionals earn and it stroke me how music therapists were the second lowest-earning professionals in the list! Therefore, I decided to do a bit of research and write this post to hopefully take the conversation about music therapy salaries one step further. Let me know in the comments what you think!
Music therapist salaries
The aforementioned article mentions that the median mid-career salary for music therapists is around $55,700. Here is some more information from CareerExplorer:
CareerExplorer mentions that the average salary for music therapists is actually $47,860. The discrepancy is probably because $55K is for mid-career salary and $47K as an average for all music therapists. Wages can start as low as $29,590 and go up to $77,050. Only the top level (90th percentile) music therapists are earning around $77K while a starting music therapist would be earning around $30K. I don’t know about you, but that seems low to me!
There are also differences between states. In Ohio, the average annual salary for music therapists is $44,680, slightly lower than the national average. The state with the highest average is California.
Music Therapy Education
Music therapists only need a bachelor’s degree to do music therapy. Yet, the demands of a music therapy degree are more than what most people could imagine. Music therapists work throughout college on their musicianship skills AND their therapeutic skills. It’s almost like learning two degrees in one!
So how does the education and salary compare with other health professionals? The salary is about the same as what art therapists and recreational therapists earn. Recreational therapists also only need a bachelor’s degree to practice, while art therapists need a master’s degree.
It’s significantly less than occupational therapists, on the other hand. Occupational therapists enable people to become more productive and overcome obstacles when experiencing difficulties attempting to do everyday activities. They do this by helping patients with injuries, illnesses, or disabilities develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working. Occupational therapists have to earn a master’s degree which is a factor to consider. Yet, oftentimes even music therapists with a master’s degree don’t earn significantly more than their peers with a bachelor’s degree and are still earning well below what occupational therapists earn.
Music therapy job market
Over the next 10 years, it is expected the US will need 3,900 music therapists. That number is based on 1,300 additional music therapists, and the retirement of 2,600 existing music therapists. Changing attitudes and further research into music therapy could lead to an increasing interest in this field. It could in turn help with the creation of new positions and the improvement of salary prospects for music therapists.
At the end of the day, music therapy is indeed a meaningful career, albeit one that often is not remunerated as it should. That’s why many music therapy students might not end up actually practicing music therapy after they complete their education. Or perhaps they will have a career change early in their careers.
So what can we do or what can music therapists do? I think that the more people know about music therapy, the more they will realize its enormous benefits and that it IS worth much more than meets the eye. With our blog and other projects, Sam’s Fans is trying to do that, raise awareness and understanding of what music therapy actually is! And perhaps music therapists also need to demand more from their employers, backing up their demands with research and testimonials that evidence how music therapy can be so valuable.
Are you a music therapist or music therapy student? What do you think about this? How much do you earn and are you satisfied or not with your current salary? What needs to happen to change music therapy salaries? I would love to hear from you!