Entry requirements and training (music therapist)
This page has information on the entry requirements and training needed to become a music therapist.
To practise as a music therapist, you must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). To register with the HCPC, you first need to have successfully completed one of the HCPC-approved postgraduate education and training courses in music therapy. Only then can you apply to join the HCPC’s Register of Health and Care Professionals, and use the protected title of ‘music therapist’.
The training course take two years full time or can be completed over a period of three or four years part time.
Individuals wishing to train as a music therapist have many years’ formal music training and often have a music degree. If you’re not a music graduate, you’re required to have an undergraduate degree or professional qualification in a relevant field such as social work or teaching. You’ll also have to demonstrate your musical proficiency.
The application process includes a written application, an interview and an audition. Please check with each course provider for specific application details.
It can be helpful to have some pre-training work experience. This does not have to be music-related but you will need to have undertaken a professional role where you have been responsible within a caring profession for the welfare of a vulnerable person.
A level 7 apprenticeship for arts therapists (art therapists/art psychotherapists, dramatherapists and music therapists) has been approved for delivery. To get onto a level 7 apprenticeship, you will need to apply for an apprentice position with a health care provider. You can search for vacancies on the NHS Jobs website and Find an Apprenticeship website.
Once you’ve successfully completed a programme approved by the HCPC, you are then eligible to apply for registration with the HCPC. Once registered as a practitioner, you’ll be required to retain your name on the register by keeping your knowledge and skills up to date and paying an annual retention fee.
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Skills required to be a music therapist include
- a high level of musicianship including improvisation skills
- excellent communication skills
- excellent listening skills and the ability to empathise
- creativity, intuition and imagination
- an ability to relate to people from all backgrounds and to provide a safe environment
- a desire to be part of the caring professions
- flexibility, adaptability and openness
- a non-judgemental approach
- emotional strength and resilience
- sensitivity and maturity and to be able to reflect on their own emotions
- business skills for private practice