It occurred to me yesterday, as I was thinking about a topic for my Wednesday blog post, that I have a pretty interesteting perspective on working as a music therapist.

I am both a full-time/salaried music therapist AND I am a music therapist in private practice. Both have their pros and cons, as all jobs do, but I thought I would share some of these from my perspective for anybody new to the field or anyone considering switching positions.

I never expected to be in both roles! I moved down to Miami in 2006 for my first music therapy job at UCP’s Early Beginnings Academy. Everything was comfortable and predictable, just how I liked it! But then I started receiving calls from parents who had been referred to me by the professors at my alma mater, University of Miami. I started picking up music therapy clients here and there and began to see that the desire for music therapy was truly out there!

So, in 2010 I kicked it into high gear and officially started a private practice. I liked the flexibilty and opportunities that private work allowed. But, I also liked the security that my full time position allowed. So I continued with both and have to say I am loving life!

Those of you who are weighing the benefits and downsides to full-time facility work versus private practice, read on….

Full-Time Facility Work – Pros!

1) Security & Consistency – There is a sense of security and consistency that comes with being a full-time/salaried staff music therapist. I know every other week my paycheck will be deposited into my account regardless of the whether the children or I am sick.

2) More Time Outside The Session – Time is built into my schedule for paperwork, session planning, and team meetings.

3) Paid Holidays, Vacation, and Sick Time – Pretty self explanatory, right?

4) Co-Worker Family – I fully acknowledge that I am truly blessed to work in the place that I do. Many people get caught up in office drama, but I have to say I work with the coolest, most eclectic group of co-workers anyone could ask for. Since my closest family is in Maryland, having co-workers that are like family to me is priceless.

They have been there for some pretty significant highs and lows in my life: working through the challenges and successes of starting my FIRST music therapy job, my dad being diagnosed with cancer, my dad passing away, finishing my master’s degree, and my engagement. Talk about highs and lows!

Full-Time Facility Work – Cons

1) Budget Cuts – Those dreaded words! Since UCP is a non-profit organization, we are at the mercy of budget cuts. Fortunately our Executive Director is a music therapist (Hallelujah!) so she “gets it” and has supported me and music therapy 100%.


Private Practice – Pros!

1) Flexibilty in Schedule – You can create your own schedule by making yourself available only during certain times. Don’t want to work weekends or evenings? Advertise your available times as weekday mornings and afternoons. Want to plan your trip up north to see the leaves change in October? Just give your clients plenty of notice!

2) You Choose – YOU choose the clients you work with. You can be selective. My strength is working with children with special needs. Working with older adults is not my strong point. I can select those clients that I enjoy working with and that I am GOOD at working with. It’s a win win for the client and for me.

3) High Paycheck? – Again, YOU set your price. You can be compensated at a rate that is aligned with other similar professionals in your area (ST, OT, PT, etc.)

Private Practice – Cons

1) Ebbs and Flows – I have found that, especially since I work with children, there are many times sessions need to be cancelled due to illness.

2) No benefits – Your sick time, vacation, and benefits (insurance, retirement plan, etc.) are not covered for you.

All in all, I love the stability and consistency that my position at UCP allows and I love the flexibility that private practice allows. Now I would love to hear from you.

What are the pros and cons of full-time/salaried positions versus private work? Leave a comment below to let us know…