The Journey of a Music Therapist: The Job Search

Kenzi Podell, a music therapist, is fresh off of passing her board exam to become a licensed music therapist. She learned a lot through the process of becoming a music therapist, and she wanted to share that hard-earned knowledge with others who are coming behind her in the process. Whether you’re just getting started on your own journey to becoming a music therapist, you know someone else who is, or you’re just curious as to what music therapists have to complete in order to practice music therapy, this blog series, “The Journey of a Music Therapist” should be helpful. 

Just tuning in? Be sure and read previous posts: Internship 101, Passing the CBMT Exam (part 1) and Passing the CBMT Exam (part 2).

You’ve graduated! Congratulations! Now what? Well, now you look for a job and study to become board-certified. You can do it two ways: apply while studying and hope you pass before getting hired, or take the test/pass before applying. Whichever way you choose is up to you. Today I’m going to talk about the job searching process only; see my test tips blogs (links above) if that’s what’s next for you!

There are so many resources out there to look for jobs:

  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn (if you do not have an account, go make one now!)
  • The American Music Therapy Association
  • Your state’s music therapy organization
  • Facebook groups (Music Therapists Unite! is a great one)
  • Your internship supervisors
  • Your school
  • And more! (Comment below if you know of more!)

These are all REALLY great ways to get started. Are you tied down to a specific area? Search “[enter favored location here] music therapy job” in Google. DONE! 

The steps are simple, but unfortunately, it is not as easy to score a music therapy job as it sounds. Music therapy is a relatively new field, which means there are limited jobs available, especially for those coming out of college with no experience (except for 1200+ hours of supervised clinicals!). Do not be discouraged if your first job out of college is not as a music therapist. There are many related jobs that are out there that you can start with while you get certified/find your career! For instance, become an activity/recreational therapist, an activity director, teach music lessons, or even a caretaker. Remember this is your first job, not your only job.

Really stuck on providing music therapy out of the door? Become your own independent contractor, or propose a program somewhere! (For a good read about how to become “self-employed”, check this out: Music Therapy Self-Employment Resource Binder.)

A great perk of being a music therapist is you can work almost anywhere! That is why proposing a program is a great avenue for finding a job: you can make your own! Type up a packet of information, do your research, e-mail local places that do not currently have music therapy services, and go present your ideas! Topics to include in your proposal should be:

  • Facts about music therapy, credentials, licensure
  • How music therapy is useful in that specific population/setting
  • Samples, samples, samples, samples, samples (Did I say samples?)
    • Goals
    • Data sheets
    • Referral sheets
    • Assessments 
    • Budget
  • Most important: research! We are an evidence-based practice!
  • Resume

Make it look professional, and then get advocating!

Now that you have graduated, there is no schedule for next semester, no signing up for classes, no pre-made clinical schedule. It is all up to you on how you use your time, your skills, and most importantly, your education. It is imperative to keep in mind that now you are in control of your life, and the only way you will succeed is with hard work.

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