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Recreational Therapists Career Overview

Plan, direct, or coordinate medically-approved recreation programs for patients in hospitals, nursing homes, or other institutions. Activities include sports, trips, dramatics, social activities, and arts and crafts. May assess a patient condition and recommend appropriate recreational activity.

Salary for Recreational Therapists

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 25th
Percentile
75th
Percentile
Mean
U.S. $29,660
($14.26)
$49,140
($23.62)
$39,930
($19.20)
Annual figures are on top. Hourly figures are below in parentheses.
N/A = Information not available


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Career Outlook for Recreational Therapists

Employment is projected to grow faster than the average. Applicants will face competition for jobs.

Employment change. Employment of recreational therapists is expected to increase 15 percent from 2008 to 2018, faster than the average for all occupations. Job growth will stem from the therapy needs of the aging population. With age comes an inevitable decrease in physical ability and, in some cases, mental ability, which can be limited or managed with recreation therapy. In nursing care facilities—the largest industry employing recreational therapists—employment will grow faster than the occupation as a whole as the number of older adults continues to grow.

Employment growth in schools will result from the expansion of the school-age population and the federally funded extension of services for disabled students.

Reimbursement for recreational therapy services will continue to affect how and where therapeutic recreation is provided. As payers and employers try to contain costs, recreation therapy services will shift to outpatient settings and away from hospitals.

Job prospects. Recreational therapists will experience competition for jobs. Lower paid recreational therapy aides may be increasingly used in an effort to contain costs. Job opportunities should be best for people with a bachelor's degree in therapeutic recreation and the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist credential. Recreational therapists might experience more competition for jobs in certain regions of the country as jobs in therapeutic recreation tend to cluster in more densely populated areas.


Employment Overview

Recreational therapists held about 23,300 jobs in 2008. About 24 percent were in nursing care facilities. Others worked primarily in hospitals, residential care facilities, and State and local government agencies.


Job Zone Description

Job Zone 4 - Preparation needed

Overall Experience
A minimum of two to four years of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an accountant needs four years of college and several years of accounting work to be considered qualified.

Education
Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Job Training
Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Examples
Accountants, chefs and head cooks, computer programmers, historians, and police detectives.

These occupations often involve coordinating, supervising, managing, and/or training others.

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Related Occupations

1.

Child, Family, and School Social Workers

2.

Occupational Therapists

3.

Physical Therapists


Additional Resources for Recreational Therapists Job Seekers

For information and materials on careers and academic programs in recreational therapy, contact:

  • American Therapeutic Recreation Association, 629 N. Main St., Hattiesburg, MS 39401. Internet: http://atra-online.com/
  • National Therapeutic Recreation Society, 22377 Belmont Ridge Rd., Ashburn, VA 20148-4501. Internet: http://www.nrpa.org/

Information on certification may be obtained from:

  • National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification, 7 Elmwood Dr., New City, NY 10956. Internet: http://www.nctrc.org

For information on licensure requirements, contact the appropriate recreational therapy regulatory agency for your State.

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