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Recreational Therapist

Recreational therapists are the healthcare professionals who work to create a difference in the people in a positive aspect. These people would work mainly for enhancing the lives of individuals with a chronic illness, injury, or disability. In general, these professionals would use various activities for improving the functionality of the people thereby helping them restore their confidence levels.

If you want to pursue a career in recreational therapy, first determine if this career option is suitable for you. I would say, a career in recreational therapy field is more suitable for those individuals who are willing to help other individuals in need. If you are passionate about helping people who are suffering due to an injury/illness, then you are a good fit for this job! Now, let’s see more about this career option here…

Work Settings:

As a recreational therapist, you would have opportunity to work in a variety of work settings and they include:

  • Hospitals

  • Healthcare facilities

  • Long-term care facilities

  • Assisted living facilities

  • Rehabilitation centers

  • Non-profit organizations

  • Community-based agencies

  • Day program services

  • Outpatient services

  • Government organizations

Job Description:

The duties and responsibilities of a recreational therapist include:

  • Assessing the requirements of a patient through:

    • Observation

    • Medical record

    • Test

    • Discussion

  • Developing treatment plans and/or programs that could meet requirements and interests of the patients

  • Planning and then implementing interventions for preventing harms to the patients

  • Engaging the patient in various therapeutic activities like:

    • Exercise

    • Games

    • Community outings

    • Arts and crafts

    • Drama

    • Music

    • Dance

    • Sports

    • Aquatics

  • Helping patients in gaining social skills thereby making them independent

  • Educating patients on the ways to overcome stress, depression, and anxiety

  • Recording, as well analyzing the patients’ progress

  • Evaluating treatments for their effectiveness

How to become a Recreational Therapist?

Educational Requirements:

A recreational therapist would require at least a bachelor’s degree in ‘recreational therapy’ or in a related field. These programs would include classes in the following subjects:

  • Assessment

  • Human anatomy

  • Medical and psychiatric terminologies

  • Illness and disabilities

  • Assistive devices

  • Technology


Today, most of the employers are found to be employing certified recreational therapists. You can earn the ‘Certified Therapeutic Recreational Specialist’ from the ‘NCTRC’.

Job Outlook and Opportunities:

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate for recreational therapists has been estimated to increase by 12% from the year 2014 to 2024. And, the growth is expected to increase mainly in the following organizations:

  • Nursing care facilities

  • Adult daycare programs

  • Organizations for geriatric patient care


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for the recreational therapists was found to be $45,890 (as of May 2015) per year which is equal to $22.06 per hour.


Average Annual Pay:  $45,890

Average Hourly Pay: $22.06

Education:  Bachelor’s degree

Employment Growth from 2014 to 2024: 12%

On-the-job training: None

Work Experience: None