Art therapists assist individuals, families and groups in recovering from psychological issues such as trauma, abuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol. They guide patients to heal by expressing emotion and exploring problems through art. An art therapy career has a very wide range of employment settings and salaries, as reported by the American Art Therapy Association, or AATA.
Art therapists consult with other health care professionals to create and implement programs most suited to each individual patient. They work in hospitals and clinics, psychiatric facilities, outpatient mental health agencies, rehabilitation centres, domestic violence shelters, correctional facilities and many other places. Some art therapists are in private practice and contract their services to agencies or work with each client in their own office setting.
A master's degree is the minimum educational requirement for an art therapist, notes the AATA. You may become an art therapist with a master's degree in art therapy, or a master's degree in a related field with an emphasis in art therapy or 24 credits in art therapy courses. Average starting hourly pay for art therapists as of December 2010 was about £6.10 to £11, according to the PayScale salary survey website. Art therapists with one to four years of experience can expect to earn £10 to £15.80 per hour on average, and those with five to nine years of experience are making £10.70 to £16 per hour on average.
Jobs-Salary.com, a website that gathers actual job listings, shows salaries for open positions for art therapists from 2005 to 2009 ranging from £16,900 to £33,800 per year. Most of the jobs listed were in major metropolitan areas. Salaries for art therapists vary by geographic location and the type of practice and responsibilities. Highest pay for salaried administrators ranges from £32,500 to £65,000, as reported by the AATA. Art therapists with doctoral degrees and licensed to be in private practice can earn £48 to £97 per hour.
Employment opportunities continue to increase as professionals and clients recognise the value of art therapy, notes the AATA. College placement offices and professional art therapy organisations can be helpful for finding jobs, as can networking through completing an art therapist internship.