therapy

Rant About Music Therapist Job Postings

Sometimes I just get really worked up at the complete and total lack of information potential employers have about music therapists and what we do. This (to be brutally honest) complete ignorance is most evident when employers list the requirements and preferences for their ideal candidate. In that last year, I've witnessed some heinous requirements sections of job postings including postings listing educational requirements as "degree in music therapy or related field." Guess what folks...you can't PROVIDE music therapy without a degree in music therapy! This one I found tonight...and maybe I'm just a bit cranky because it's after one in the morning and I need to go to bed, but this one has got to be one of the BEST examples of the ignorance potential employers have regarding our profession. I copied this directly from the job description:

  • Bachelor's degree in music therapy
  • Must be able to play an instrument
  • Must be certified by the American Music Therapy Association or achieve such status within one year of hire.
  • ACMT, CMT, or RMT a plus.
  • Must possess at least 1-2 years working with children of all age

Now, let's break this down:

Bachelor's degree in music therapy

Okay, this makes sense. They aren't necessarily looking for someone with a masters.

Must be able to play an instrument

Wait a minute...do they have any idea what goes into a music therapy degree? Even vocalists getting a music therapy degree have to demonstrate proficiency on guitar and piano...so every music therapist can play at least TWO instruments and more times than not, MANY instruments. I think this falls into the "goes without saying" category.

Must be certified by the American Music Therapy Association or achieve such status within one year of hire.

Absolutely EVERY music therapist working in the United States has just been excluded from this position. The American Music Therapy Association does not certify anyone. Our certifying body is an independent organization called the Certification Board for Music Therapists. So this potential employer has done enough research to know that AMTA exists, but not enough to understand that AMTA does not certify music therapists...CBMT does. By the time I read this, I was pretty frustrated at the lack of attention in writing these job requirements.

ACMT, CMT, or RMT a plus.

I nearly had a full blown hissy fit when I saw this. Apparently this organization prefers to hire music therapists that were certified prior to 1998. The credentials ACMT, CMT and RMT actually came from two different music therapy organizations that no longer exist. In 1998, the National Association for Music Therapy (NAMT) and the American Association for Music Therapy (AAMT) merged to form the American Association for Music Therapy (AMTA). At that time, the credentials ACMT, CMT and RMT were no longer awarded. The new credential Music Therapist-Board Certified (MT-BC) was introduced. Professionals who held the credentials from the original two music therapy organizations were invited to keep those credentials or start using the new MT-BC credential. For an employer to state that credentials that have not been available for over a decade are a plus...

Must possess at least 1-2 years working with children of all ages

Again, this part of the requirements makes sense and is not inflammatory.

Try this out...type "music therapy" into Google. What's the first website that pops up? Forget the ads...the first website listed is AMTA's website. This horrific blunder of a job position posting could have been remedied by a simple Google search and some copying and pasting. For some reason, the person posting this description didn't care to take the time to verify whether or not the posting even makes sense to professionals in the field. Does this reflect the lax attitude of some HR person somewhere? Maybe there's a broader implication here. As music therapists, from the moment we enter our undergrad programs, we are taught to advocate for ourselves and our profession. We learn to document everything we do in clear and concise terms so we can justify the wonders we work every day. Even those of us who are not in dual major programs as music therapists and music educators (or equivalency programs) are taught to be teachers. Teach others what it is that we do...teach them about the benefits we can provide for people.

Are we not doing a good enough job teaching the general public about what we do and the educational requirements we have to meet? Or should job description writers get with it and stop being lazy?

I'll be honest about something...I've been out of work for over a year. In a situation like that, a person can get pretty desperate when it comes to finding a job in a chosen field. For most music therapists, it's not just a job...it's a passion.

Even with that...I'll say it, obsession, to find a music therapy job, when I see completely inane job descriptions like that, I have to wonder if it's even worth my time to apply...this employer CLEARLY will not fully appreciate the awesomeness I can bring to their organization if they can't even write a semi-intelligent job description. I posted a much shorter rant about this subject on Facebook several months ago...it was something to the effect of "Don't expect me to take seriously your desire to hire someone in my profession if you can't even write a position posting that makes sense."

I've spent a good amount of time this evening applying for jobs, but I'm not going to lose any more sleep by wasting my time applying with an organization so out of touch. I've got more important things to do...like ranting in the middle of the night.