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Music therapist

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

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £26,000 to £48,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37.5 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need:

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • excellent communication, listening and observational skills
  • a high level of musical ability and knowledge
  • the ability to relate to people from all backgrounds
  • the ability to handle sensitive and difficult issues
  • emotional strength and the ability to cope with challenging situations
  • empathy and the ability to gain clients’ trust
  • the confidence to work with people on their own and in groups

3. What you'll do

You’ll encourage clients to explore sound and communicate through music, to help them with:

  • expressing themselves
  • developing insight and creating ways of relating to other people
  • becoming aware of their feelings
  • interacting with other people more confidently
  • bringing about positive changes in their lives

You’ll hold 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’ll monitor the effectiveness of the therapy sessions, and write case notes and reports.

If you’re working in the NHS, you’ll work closely with other health care professionals like nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists and speech and language therapists.

4. Salary

Starter: £26,000

Experienced: £31,000 to £41,000

Highly Experienced: up to £48,000 (principal music therapist in the NHS)

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

Your working hours will usually be between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday, although some jobs may involve evening or weekend sessions.

Many music therapists work in the NHS, although there are opportunities for work in private practice. You could also be self-employed as a freelance music therapist.

Your work will usually take place in a specially equipped music room. You’ll usually see the same client or clients, in the same place at the same time each week.

You could also work in schools, hospitals, prisons and day centres.

6. Career path and progression

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. 

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Last updated: 21 December 2016