© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.


Average Salary: $45,000

Expected Lifetime Earnings: $1,879,000

When you're a high school student, after your seemingly endless stream of summer jobs slinging tacos, making endless smores with homesick campers, and trimming Mrs. Persnickety's scraggly bushes to within an inch of their green lives, anything more than $2,000 a year seems like heaven.

The average salary of a music therapist is around $30k a year. Ouch. Now to you, at this moment in time, $30k sounds like a cool chunk o' change. You can just see yourself, feeling good and satisfied after a day of musical therapy breakthroughs with children, sick people and the elderly. You’re in your customized SUV, the wind blowing your hair just enough through the sunroof as you hand an extra $20 to the schmo parking your car while dining al fresco with your homeys.

Let's take it one step at a time, shall we? Before you get lost in that reverie, snatch that $20 back from the hardworking valet and swap your Cadillac Escalade ($61k) for a Ford Fiesta ($14k), because owning a car that's more than a year's salary is not representative of a musical therapist's lifestyle.

If you decide to live in California, you might make a little more than $30k—say $45k. But California is known for its high cost of living, so that extra cashola may not get you far. The median sales price of a two-bedroom house in San Francisco is around $700,000.

One other thing to note (and we'll get to this part a little later) is that you're going need a certain amount of accreditation to become a certified musical therapist meaning...you'll probably have school loans to pay back. So the question to ask yourself is this: IS it worth it to you? People who become music therapists aren't necessarily in it for the money. It's usually a labor of love. Sure, you’ll make a moderately decent living, but the riches you acquire will come more from the satisfaction of helping people rather than the green kind (unless, of course, Bill Gates' kid or all the girls at Oprah Winfrey's school in South Africa need round-the-clock music therapy. Then your salary may kick up a bit).