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Recreational Therapist

Career data updated last on 10/15/2014
Recreational Therapist Recreational therapists, also known as therapeutic recreation specialists, plan and provide treatment programs, leisure education and recreational opportunities for individuals with physical, mental, developmental and emotional disabilities. Recreational therapists use a variety of activities which may include sports, exercise, dramatics, social activities, arts and crafts, music, and games to help minimize their patients' symptoms and improve their physical, mental and emotional functioning. Therapists help individuals reduce depression, stress, and anxiety; recover basic motor functioning and reasoning abilities; build confidence; and socialize effectively so that they can enjoy greater independence, as well as reduce or eliminate the effects of their illness or disability. In addition, therapists help integrate people with disabilities into the community by teaching them how to use community resources and recreational activities.
Salary $22.76/hr - $47,340 annually
Significant Points Employment of recreational therapists is expected to increase, due to expansion in long-term care, physical and psychiatric rehabilitation, and services for people with disabilities.
Specializations Most recreational therapists work in the hospital specialties of psychiatry, rehabilitation or pediatrics, or in a variety of institutional and community settings, with individuals who have physical, mental, social and emotional limitations.
Work Environment Recreational therapists work in clinical and community settings in public or private agencies, such as acute care hospitals, rehabilitation centers, psychiatric hospitals, half-way houses, community living arrangements, long-term care facilities, etc. Recreational therapists generally work a 40-hour week that may include some evenings, weekends, and holidays. They may travel locally to instruct the clients regarding the accessibility of public transportation and other public areas, such as parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, restaurants, and theaters.
High School Prep General college preparation is recommended: three courses in math including algebra I, algebra II and geometry, or a higher level math course for which algebra II is a prerequisite; three science courses including biology and chemistry, one physical science and one lab course; four English units and two social studies units, including one in U.S. History; and two years of a second language.
Academic Requirements Recreational therapists have at least a baccalaureate degree in their field or in recreation with a concentration in therapeutic recreation for most entry level position. Most employers prefer to hire candidates who are certified therapeutic recreation specialists. The National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification is the certificatory agency. To become certified, specialists must have a bachelor’s degree, pass a written certification examination, and complete an internship of at least 480 hours. Additional requirements apply in order to maintain certification and to recertify. A master's degree may be required for an administrative recreational therapist function.


University of Northern Colorado
Bachelor Degree Bachelor's

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