dcsimg

Recreational Therapist

Job Duties

Recreational therapists, also known as therapeutic recreation specialists, work with individuals who have disabilities or illnesses, participating in recreational activities and providing treatment to them. They attempt to maintain the emotional, physical, and mental well-being of their clients. In order to do this, they employ a variety of techniques, such as arts and crafts, animals, sports, games, dance and movement, drama, music, and community outings. These types of activities serve to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety in clients, as well as help them build motor functions, self-confidence, and social skills. The goal of recreational therapists is to assist their clients in becoming more independent.

Counseling

In hospitals and similar facilities, recreational therapists work closely with physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, and physical and occupational therapists to rehabilitate people with a variety of different health conditions. In long-term or residential care facilities, recreational therapists create leisure activities that help maintain the general health of residents. Community-based recreational therapists work in park and recreation departments, special-education programs for school districts, or programs for older adults and people with disabilities. These therapists design programs of exercise, mental stimulation, creativity, and fun and often work with counselors, teachers, and parents.

Job Skills

Recreational therapists should have a high degree of patience and tact because their clients have special needs. They need to be comfortable working with individuals who have diseases or disabilities. A sense of humor and an active imagination are important qualities, as is good physical coordination.

Income

In 2002, recreational therapists earned a median annual salary of $30,540. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $18,130, to the highest 10%, who earned more than $47,180.

Training and Education

Most entry-level positions in recreational therapy require a bachelor's degree in therapeutic recreation. However, other levels of training may be sufficient. An associate degree in therapeutic recreation or a healthcare-related field may be enough to qualify for certain paraprofessional jobs. Activity director positions may only require an associate degree in recreational therapy; training in art, drama, or music therapy; or qualifying work experience. There are about 140 programs that offer training in recreational therapy; most of them offer bachelor's degrees, while some offer associate, master's, or doctoral degrees. Courses include assessment, treatment, program planning, anatomy, physiology, abnormal psychology, medical and psychiatric terminology, and professional ethics.

Recreational therapists can become certified by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification. Requirements for this certification include providing proof of a bachelor's degree, passing a written examination, and completing a 480 hour internship. Most employers prefer to hire candidates who have earned this certification. Therapists who earn this certification must meet more requirements in order to maintain their certification and to renew their certification.

Employment

In 2002, recreational therapists held about 27,000 jobs. About a third worked in nursing care facilities and another third worked in hospitals.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, employment of recreational therapists is expected to increase more slowly than the average. In nursing care facilities, employment will grow faster than the overall occupation. However, employment in hospitals is expected to decline because of a shift to outpatient settings due to an increased emphasis on cost containment. Consequently, employment will grow fast in residential and outpatient centers. Opportunities will be best for those with a bachelor's degree in therapeutic recreation or in recreation with an option in therapeutic recreation.

For more information on becoming a recreational therapist, please see our directory of schools offering Medical Training.


Recreational Therapist Training

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            Psychology - Bachelor
            • Average class size is 25, allowing for more one-on-one time with instructors.
            • Has a 97% employment rate among available graduates.
            • All  graduates receive Lifetime Employment  Assistance—free and forever.
            • Michigan's largest independent college.
            • Most instructors are working professionals in the fields they teach.
            • Programs are continuously updated to ensure classes are career-relevant and in sync with what's needed in the industry
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            MA in Psychology, Career Management and Counseling Specialization
            • Designated a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
            • Received the 2013 Making a Difference for Students Award from Quality Matters.
            • Offers a free student app for smartphones and tablets, helping students keep up to date.
            • Has a Golden Key International Honour Society and SALUTE Veterans Honor Society.
            • Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            B.S. in Human Services / Counseling
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
            • Founded in 1890, it has a campus in Waterbury, CT and offers online degree program in eight-week modules, six times a year.
            • About 800 students are enrolled at the main campus, and about half of them commute.
            • Online courses help make it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as 24 months and a master’s degree in 12-18 months.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            MA in Professional Counseling - 60 Hour
            • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
            • Ranked 37th among the Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
            • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
            • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
            • Has a student-faculty ratio of 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Online Master of Arts in Counseling - Professional School Counseling (PSC)
            • Ranked #4 among the 2015 Best Regional Universities in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report.
            • Designated as 2015 Military Friendly School by U.S. News & World Report.
            • Student to faculty ratio of 12:1, with an average class size of 21.
            • 85% of faculty holds a doctorate or terminal degree in their field.
            • Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA).
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            Counseling Psychology (EdD)
            Argosy University , Los Angeles
            • Designated as a 2015 Military Friendly® School by Victory Media, publishers of G.I. Jobs®.
            • Each program is designed to instill the knowledge, ethical values, and interpersonal skills of professional practice and to foster values of social responsibility.
            • Offers several flexible learning options, including a blended format that combines campus and online learning.
            • Several scholarship opportunities are available for students who qualify.
            • Features a competency-based MBA program that allows students to test out of subjects based on prior professional experience.
            Show more [+]
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Substance Abuse
            • A private, accredited distance learning college based in Norcross, Georgia founded in 1987.
            • Ensures that service members, their spouses and veterans can maximize their military education benefits.
            • Gives students the option to customize monthly payments to fit their budgets and lifestyle.
            • Offers all-inclusive tuition: textbooks, learning materials, and academic support are covered in the cost.
            • Allows alumni to enroll in any future program at a reduced rate.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            Alcohol & Drug Counseling Studies
            • Morning, afternoon, evening and weekend classes are available.
            • Offers lifetime career assistance services to graduates, including resume and cover letter assistance, employer networking, and one-on-one employment counseling.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
            • 8 campuses located across California, with 3 additional campuses in New Hampshire and Maine and online options.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            BA in Psychology/Marriage Therapy and Family Counseling

            Discover the Difference a Community of Support Makes in Your Educational Journey. From Application to Graduation, the Support You Need to Achieve Your Goals. 100% Online.

             

            New England College was founded in 1946 to educate soldiers coming home from war. The same great support system that welcomed returning GIs is still a hallmark of NEC today. From enrollment services representatives who’ll guide you through the application process to interactive tools that help you collaborate with instructors and classmates, NEC inspires you to reach the milestones of your educational journey.

            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            DMFT - Mental Health Administration
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor's Programs in 2014 by U.S. News & World Report.
            • Implements a one-to-one teaching model, partnering one student with one faculty member in each course.
            • 100% of faculty members hold doctoral degrees.
            • No physical residency requirements, allowing students to pursue their degree online.
            • Committed to innovation, diversity, excellence, and accountability since its founding in 1996.
            • Offers several programs in business, education, psychology, and more.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits