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Ben Simonson

MUSC 287

Music Therapy Market Analysis

The American Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as the clinical and evidencebased use of music interventions to accomplish visual goals in a therapeutic relationship. Music
is used to assess the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of people. Music therapy
can also be included in the job description of a recreational therapist, but I will focus only on the
music aspect. While this job may sound easy in theory, it is not without its challenges. One of the
biggest challenges faced in this occupation is convincing clients, patients, and administrators of
the actual need for music therapy.
A Bachelor's degree (preferably in music therapy, psychology, or human development) is
necessary if one wishes to become a successful music therapist. After getting a degree, as well as
doing an internship, you can be eligible to sit for the national exam offered by the Certification
Board for Music Therapists. A positive attitude and an ability to strongly empathize with others
are important characteristics to the job. Problem solving skills, and probably sales and marketing
ability will also be beneficial.
Scientifically speaking, not a great deal is known about the effects of music therapy, but
what few studies that have been conducted have shown that it can have noticeable positive
effects on those with mental health needs, on Alzheimer's patients in assisting them with
memory, and even on cognitive development in infants who were born prematurely. Hopefully
more research is carried out, so the long-term effects on patients can be more firmly understood.
Hopefully, further research will reinforce these claims that music therapists live by, improving
their credibility.
Industry Description and Outlook
The average salary for a music therapist seems quite difficult to pinpoint, with top job websites
Simply Hired quoting it at $47,000, Career Builder quoting it at $50,255, and Indeed quoting it at
$84,000. Music therapists with an advanced degree can make a great deal more than those with
only a Bachelor's, which may account for the discrepancies in average salaries. The expected
career growth up until 2020 for music therapists is 17%. Nursing homes, rehabilitation centers,
and those who work in special needs are always looking for music therapists for help, so these
would be areas to offer my services.
Using LinkedIn, I looked at the top 23 music therapists in my location of choice. Most of
them work in some sort of healthcare setting, like medical centers or hospice care, so it's possible
that the healthcare industry is the best place to offer my services. Although it would definitely
help, I don't believe an advanced degree is always required to do so. Hospitals and medical
centers would be ideal places to get friendly and network with people, and I could even try
contacting various profiles on LinkedIn for more information.
Target Market Strategy
Due to a high population of boomers, more jobs are being offered in assisted living facilities, and
as the practice is being researched more, with its benefits hard to ignore, jobs in music therapy
are being increasingly offered. People considering music therapy should seize this opportunity.
For this occupation, I think it would be wise to focus on specific areas of need (having a small
number of specialties), rather than claiming I can work with everyone.

For this job, advertising my services and staying connected with as many people as I can
seem to be key if I wish to be employed. Even if a particular facility doesn't do business with
music therapists, it might be useful to tell them the benefits that the practice has, and try to
persuade them to at least consider. The fact that respectable institutions are currently offering
education in the field, indicates it is beginning to be looked at as a respectable career choice.
While offering my services to people where psychological knowledge is required (such as
children with autism or children in behavioral therapy), I could also apply for a medical area,
such as assisting the elderly with Alzheimer's. Music has sometimes helped them recover
memories in a therapy setting. According to the Official Journal of the American Academy of
Pediatrics, music therapy has positive effects on vital signs of premature infants. Not only would
this be an incredibly rewarding experience, it would be fantastic to show to other facilities I may
wish to do business with.
Chances are that if you are in a well-populated area, there will be plenty of facilities/firms that
deal with rehabilitation, special education, hospice care, and other general emotional support for
those in need. Finding a place that hosts music therapists shouldn't be too difficult if you know
where to look. While the practice may seem unorthodox in today's therapy and medical settings,
it is definitely not a new practice.
Demand for music therapists appear to be based on individual institutions, rather than
large geographic areas. However, the average salaries do vary considerably depending on the
state (or district), the top 3 being:

Massachusetts ($99,000)
Washington DC ($100,000)
New York ($102,000)

These averages seemed rather high to me, but according to, this data is
accurate as of September 2015. For the sake of researching an area that I'm not familiar with, I'll
choose to focus on Washington DC. Based on quick job searches on career sites, like Glassdoor
and Simply Hired, there are numerous openings for music therapists around the DC area, so it
seems like this is a good location to focus on.
According to the American Music Therapy Association, two prestigious DC programs
have recently implemented music therapy programs; the Levine School of Music and the
Children's National Medical Center. This is a good sign that this is an area where the occupation
is being recognized as important, and demand might possibly increase as time passes.
Due to a potential increase in my competition, I'll reaffirm that choosing a specialty in a medical
setting would be beneficial. Rather than competing with private practitioners to be hired by
various rehabilitation places or retirement homes, showing that I've worked in more urgent,
critical situations, like assisting the cognitive development of premature infants, this will show
that I am passionate about my job, that I genuinely wish to help people, and that I am more than
qualified to work with people in a group or individual therapy setting.
While I will be competing with other music therapists for jobs, this isn't to say that I
shouldn't help them, share my knowledge, or recommend them places to offer their services.

Staying connected with them and always being on good terms would be wise. Not only do we
work for the same cause, but they can share their knowledge with me, inform me of job
openings, etc. I want to build a good reputation, and networking with a large group of likeminded people will definitely help.
To gain an advantage over any competition I may run into, I'll probably have to further
my education by getting a Master's degree or even a P.h.D. This could always be done after
getting a feel for the job, working "smaller scale" positions, or being an intern. By making it
clear that I want to learn more, people will see my as taking my job more seriously, and will be
more likely to hire me, or to continue doing business with me. This would probably give me a
better chance of being hired (even by a smaller institution) than someone with only a Bachelor's
to show.

Sources Used
What Is Music Therapy. (n.d.). Retrieved September 15, 2015, from
Orfanos, A. (n.d.). Music Therapy Career Profile. Retrieved September 15, 2015, from
Music Therapist. (n.d.). Retrieved September 15, 2015, from
Two Prestigious DC-Based Organizations Start Music Therapy Programs. (n.d.). Retrieved
September 15, 2015, from
Loewy, J., Stewart, K., Dassler, A.M., Telsey, A., Homel, P. The Effects of Music Therapy on
Vital Signs, Feeding, and Sleep in Premature Infants. Official Journal of the American
Academy of Pediatrics. Pediatrics 2013; 131:5 902-918; published ahead of print April
15, 2013, doi:10.1542/peds.2012-1367
Top 23 Music Therapist profiles in Washington DC.
Music Therapist Jobs in Washington DC. Retrieved from
Music Therapy Jobs near Washington DC. Retrieved from