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How to become a Music Therapist

Music therapists work in health-related fields, treating clients of all ages from babies through to the elderly, and assist with varying problems and disabilities. Music Therapist determine suitable goals, collect and analyse information about the client’s response to music, and provides customised treatment plans to suit.

Music Therapy can be used to help patients with developmental, cognitive, neurological, or physical disabilities. From speech and hearing impairments to psychiatric disorders. Sometimes the therapeutic benefits of music are simply used to bring relaxation and enjoyment to patients with long term physical or mental health problems.

If you are empathetic, passionate about music and helping people, working as a Music Therapist could be a very rewarding career to consider.


About you:


  • Caring with a strong desire to help people
  • Appreciate a wide range of music styles and be able to translate your passion to others
  • High level of musical proficiency, as well as a knowledge of lots of different styles of music as you’ll need to appeal to a wide and diverse audience
  • Creative and intuitive with a great imagination
  • Strong interpersonal skills to help you to relate to people from all backgrounds
  • A non-judgmental and flexible approach to your clients needs
  • Great communication and reporting skills


The job:


  • Meet with your clients and possibly other health professionals involved with their care, assess their needs and establish goals
  • Plan and design customised music therapy sessions targeted to help your client meet the goals
  • Provide instruction and motivation to the individuals or groups in your sessions
  • Analyse an measure their progress and adapt the plan or goals if needed
  • Writing progress reports and include your clients health team in your observations and feedback


Lifestyle Impact: Low


  • Part Time opportunities: Low – 22% of Music Therapists work part-time (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
  • Average hours for full-time workers: 42 hours a week (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
  • Music Therapists salary (average) $55,000* per year (Source: seek.com.au). *Salaries vary between industries, your role, hours of work, and depending on your skills and experience.
  • Future career growth: Strong (Source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
  • Once you’ve got professional accreditation you could set yourself up working from home and be your own boss, choose to find employment with others, have a couple of part time gigs with different organisations. Working remotely could even work in some situations.


Music Therapists are most in demand in these locations:


Most Music Therapists are employed in New South Wales and Victoria (Source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au) but there are employment opportunities available in every state.

The benefits of alternative therapies being used in conjunction with traditional health practises are becoming much more popular and widely accepted. What that means, is it’s likely there could be more jobs being created in this area in the future.


How to become a Music Therapist in Australia


To be eligible for most careers as a Music Therapist you’ll need to be registered with the Australian Music Therapy Association (AMTA). Although technically you don’t have to be registered, some employers might overlook your applications if you’re not.

To become a Registered Music Therapist (RMT) here in Australia, you’ll need to complete a tertiary qualification to make you eligible for registration.


Step 1 – Take Music and English at high school, other ATAR eligible subjects such as health studies and dance could also be useful.


Step 2 – Complete an Undergraduate degree, such as:

You may not have to complete a music degree, but you’ll need to make sure that whatever undergraduate you’d like to do will check all the prerequisites or assumed knowledge you’ll need for any postgraduate qualifications.


Step 3 – Complete a postgraduate qualification. These ones are accredited with the Australian Music Therapy Association (AMTA):

You can complete other postgraduate courses and still apply to AMTA, but they’ll have to assess that your course meets their standards criteria before processing your registration.


Step 4 – Complete the AMTA membership requirements and submit the necessary paperwork. Once you successfully receive your membership you’ll be able to apply for professional roles and start working.


Alternative pathways to Music Therapy as a Career


If you’d love to become a Registered Music Therapist (RMT) but university isn’t an option right now, you could consider looking at TAFE and other music and health related qualifications. Volunteer and get some work experience providing some form of musical therapy (it could be at your local community centre, childcare centre, school, or old people’s home for example).

Your efforts and qualifications could count towards undergraduate studies and help you to get into university down the track.

Or, if you’d like to go to university but you’re not sure how to afford it, you could consider applying for an education degree. It could provide entry into a career in music, teaching young people in schools. With the added bonus that education degrees often have lower fees than many other degrees (including degrees specialising in music).

Plus, it’s a good idea to contact the AMTA directly and see what advice they can offer that could help you to become registered.


Find out more here –






Similar Careers to Music Therapist


Music Teacher

Dance or Drama Therapists



Occupational Therapist


Find out more about alternative careers.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What do Music Therapists do?


Music Therapists plan and organise activities, they also take part in and direct music therapy sessions that they’ve designed to positively benefit patients’ social, emotional, psychological, or physical difficulties.


Who can benefit from Music Therapy?


If you’re thinking of a career in health, then the chances are that you like people and you enjoy helping them.  People of all ages from newborns to the elderly might respond well to this treatment. A few examples of who could benefit include people with:

  • Mental health needs
  • Developmental delays
  • Communication problems
  • Physical, mental or learning disabilities
  • Age related conditions such as Alzheimer’s
  • Addiction and substance abuse issues
  • Patients suffering with acute and chronic pain
  • People with long term and terminal illnesses


Where do Music Therapists work? 


Music Therapists work in a variety of settings, from hospitals and mental health centres, to aged care and day care centres, schools, community groups, or their own private practices.


Do I need to go to university to become a Music Therapist?


To become a Registered Music Therapist, which is preferred by most employers, you will need to go to university and even complete a relevant postgraduate qualification. Contact AMTA if you’d like to discuss your pathway in more detail.


What are 3 things I can do right now to help me become a Music Therapist?


If you’re at high school and you’d like to find out if a career as a Music Therapist is right for you, here’s a few things you could do right now:

  1. Keep your passion for music alive, learn to play instruments, get technical and explore lots of different kinds of music.
  2. Volunteer in health settings, it would be really useful if you could get work experience in a related area.
  3. Work on your interpersonal skills, put yourself out there and engage with lots of people from diverse backgrounds.

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