Recreation and Therapeutic Activities

If you are creative, compassionate and enjoy helping others, a career in recreational and therapeutic activities may be right for you. Read on to learn more about employment prospects and salaries for recreational therapists, as well as how much education you'll need to enter the field.

Are Studies in Recreational and Therapeutic Activities For Me?

Career Overview

As a recreational therapist or recreational therapy aide, you may work with people who have varying disabilities and illnesses, using activities such as art, dance and games in order to improve their mental and physical well-being. Recreational therapists and aides can work for home health agencies, nursing homes, hospitals and clinics. Many recreational therapists travel locally to see their clients, often holding therapy sessions at parks, playgrounds and other public areas.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for recreational therapists is expected to grow by 13% nationwide between 2012 and 2022, which is about average compared to all occupations. Candidates with a bachelor's degree in a relevant field of study and a voluntary Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist credential may enjoy the best opportunities. As of May 2013, recreational therapists earned a median annual salary of $43,180 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Recreational and Therapeutic Activities?

Undergraduate Programs

Most entry-level positions in recreational therapy require at least a bachelor's degree in therapeutic recreation. As an aspiring professional, you may take courses in human anatomy and physiology, first aid, safety education and recreation programming. Topics in general psychology, individual and group counseling, kinesiology and motor behavior will also be covered.

Graduate Programs

If you're interested in administrative, academic or research work, you may consider pursuing a graduate program in recreational therapy. At this level, you may study sports and activities management, risk management and legal liability. You might also learn about the research methods used to examine recreational therapy and take classes in psychopathology and clinical programming.

Certification and Licensing

Certification as a recreation therapist is typically preferred by employers. Certification requirements include completion of at least a bachelor's program, a field experience and an exam. Only four states require licensure for recreation therapists as of 2012 (Utah, Oklahoma, New Hampshire and North Carolina), per the BLS.

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