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  • Writer's pictureAlexa Kemmann

How to Become a Music Therapist

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

On February 12, 2022, I completed my board-certification in music therapy and was awarded the credential, MT-BC. Prior to certification, I received my bachelor of arts in music therapy from Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana and also completed a clinical internship with Living Music, LLC in New Bremen, Ohio. Often times I am asked about my education and training. Keep reading to learn how to become a music therapist.

Enroll in an AMTA-approved Program at a University

Music therapists obtain either a bachelor's degree in music therapy, an undergraduate equivalency in music therapy, or an equivalency/master's in music therapy in order to sit for the national board-certification exam. The program must be approved by the profession's national association and accrediting body, the American Music Therapy Association. The curriculum in entry level study meets the AMTA's professional competencies in three major areas: Musical Foundations, Clinical Foundations, and Music Therapy Foundations. A program includes practical application of music therapy theories and techniques learned in the classroom through required fieldwork in the community and/or in on-campus clinics. Students learn to assess the needs of clients, develop and implement treatment plans to address those needs, and evaluate the treatment plan and document client progress.

Many music therapists also go on to receive a master's or doctoral degree in music therapy to advance their training. Graduate programs in music therapy research and examine relevant topics in the clinical, professional, and academic preparation of music therapists with greater breadth and depth.

For a list of approved programs, click here.

Apply for a Clinical Internship in Music Therapy

The last part of music therapy student's degree program is to obtain a full-time 6-month internship in music therapy. Between fieldwork included in music therapy courses and a clinical internship, music therapists receive over 1,200 hours of clinical training prior to certification. This internship can either be a national roster internship site or a university-affiliated internship.

For a list of approved internship sites, click here.

Apply and Sit for the Music Therapy Board-Certification Exam

The Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) awards the credential, MT-BC (Music Therapist-Board-Certified) through competency testing. Upon completion of an AMTA-approved degree program in music therapy, one is eligible to sit for the music therapy board-certification exam.

Candidates can apply here to take the exam.

Maintain Your Certification Through Continuing Education

Board-certified music therapists must obtain100 Continuing Music Therapy Education (CMTE) credits every 5-year recertification cycle in order to maintain their certification. The Certification Board for Music Therapists recertifies music therapists and provides a list of approved providers for CMTEs, as well as guidance for how to apply for credits that are not pre-approved.

MT-BC's can find a list of approved CMTE providers here.

For more information about how to pursue a career in music therapy, click here.

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