Recreational Therapist Education and Career Pathway

By | March 26, 2024
Recreational Therapist Education
To become a recreational therapist, you will need to fulfill certain educational requirements.

This post provides detailed information on the recreational therapist education and career pathway, including the requirements you are expected to fulfill to become a recreational therapist and steps you can take to advance your career.

Why Choose Recreational Therapist Career?

Here are a few reasons you should consider becoming a recreational therapist:

  1. You can work in different settings, such as schools, community centers, hospitals, etc.
  2. You get to interact with many different types of people.
  3. There are lots of opportunities for advancement.
  4. You can earn good money.
  5. The job is not stressful.
  6. It is an exciting career that offers plenty of variety.
  7. You have the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives.
  8. You get to travel all over the world.
  9. You get to meet new people every day.
  10. You get to learn about other cultures.
  11. You get to use your creativity and imagination.

 Recreational Therapist Education Requirements

The first thing you need to know before applying for a position as a recreational therapist is whether you have enough education to qualify for the job.

Here are some requirements:

  1. A Bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent).
  2. At least two years of experience in providing recreation services.
  3. Experience in working with individuals with developmental disabilities.

Recreational Therapist Continuing Education

If you want to advance in your career, it is important to keep up with the latest trends in the field.

To stay ahead of the game, you must enroll in continuing education courses. Some of these include:

  • Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Therapeutic Recreation
  • Community Health Services
  • Disability Studies.

Recreational Therapist Certification/License

In order to be eligible for certification by the National Board for Certified Recruiters, applicants must complete the following steps:

  1. Obtain a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
  2. Complete a minimum of 30 hours of professional development training.
  3. Pass a national exam administered by the NBRR.
  4. Provide proof of completion of the above three requirements.
  5. Submit documentation of successful completion of the required training.
  6. Be certified within one year of completing the program of study.
  7. Apply for licensure after being certified.
  8. Renew license annually.

Recreational Therapist Career Opportunities

Here are several career pathways for a recreational therapist, they include:

  1. Recreational Therapy Assistant

This is the most common opportunity for recreational therapists looking entry-level job.

Applicants must have completed their undergraduate studies and then apply for a job as a recreational therapy assistant.

They may also choose to specialize in specific areas like autism, mental health, physical rehabilitation, etc. They will get on-the-job training once employed.

2. Recreational Therapy Specialist

This is another popular choice among those looking for a career change. An applicant must have a Bachelor’s degree in any area and then pursue additional coursework at a postsecondary institution.

After graduation, they could work as a recreational therapy specialist.

3. Occupational Therapist

An occupational therapist has a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in occupational therapy. He or she can also earn a Doctorate in this field.

This person works closely with patients who have physical disabilities.

4. Physical Therapist

A physical therapist has a Bachelor‘s degree in physical therapy. In addition, he or she should hold a graduate degree such as a Master’s in physical therapy or Doctoral degree in the field.

The physical therapist specializes in treating people with physical problems.

5. Social Worker

Social workers have a Bachelor’s degree in social work. They help clients deal with emotional issues that arise during times of crisis.

Others include:

  • Speech Language Pathologist
  • Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
  • Licensed Mental Health Counselor
  • Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
  • Licensed Athletic Trainer
  • Licensed Dietitian.

How to Advance your Recreational Therapist Career

Here are ideas to help you get started in your career as a recreational therapist:

  1. Attend conferences and seminars. These events offer opportunities to network and learn about new developments in the industry.

2. Find out what employers need. Employers often provide information about their needs through job postings.

3. Take advantage of online resources. There are many websites available to help you find employment. You can search them using keywords like “recreational therapists” and “career paths”.

4. Join professional organizations. Joining an organization provides you with access to networking opportunities, discounts on continuing education courses, and other benefits.

5. Keep up to date with current trends. Stay abreast of new technologies and innovations in the field.

How to Find a Good Recreational Therapy School

You want to make sure that the school you attend offers quality recreational therapy programs.

Here are some things you should look for when choosing a program:

  1. Accreditation.

A good school will be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Another reputable accrediting agency is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

2. Program length.

Ensure whichever program you decide on is long enough and covers all areas of recreational therapy, so that you can be effective in the workforce.

3. Faculty experience.

Ask if faculty members have had previous teaching experience. If they do not, ask why.

4. Location.

Choose a place near to your home.

5. Reputation.

Check the reputation of the school before enrolling. You can check it online at sites like

  • Cost.

Compare tuition costs between different schools. You may be able to save money by attending a community college instead of a four-year university.

How to be Successful in your Recreational Therapist Career

To succeed in your recreational therapist career, here are tips you can apply:

  1. Be patient. It takes time to build relationships with patients and develop skills.

2. Be flexible. Change is inevitable. Your ability to adapt to change will determine how successful you become.

3. Be creative. Overcome hurdles by using problem-solving abilities.

4. Be organized. Organize your thoughts and actions so you can focus on one task at a time.

5. Have fun! Enjoy yourself while working as a recreational therapist.

What Does a Recreational Therapist Do?

The recreational therapist’s work involves assisting people with physical disabilities.

They teach these individuals how to perform everyday tasks, such as dressing themselves, bathing, eating, grooming, and toileting.

Recreational therapists also work with children who have developmental delays. Their goal is to improve the child’s self-esteem and social interactions.

Qualities of a Good Recreational Therapist

Here are important qualities to have to be a good recreational therapist:

  1. Empathy. This means being able to understand what others are feeling.

2. Patience. Being able to wait patiently for someone to finish doing something before helping them.

3. Compassion. Showing sympathy towards those who are suffering.

4. Understanding. Having knowledge about how people learn and behave.

5. Honesty. Being honest with clients and other professionals.

 Recreational Therapist Salary

The base compensation for a recreational therapist ranges from $52,976 to $65,823, with an average base salary of $59,275, according to

Recreational Therapist Job Outlook

Recreational therapy jobs are predicted to grow steadily by 7% between 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


If you want to make a difference in the lives of others, you can consider becoming a recreational therapist. This line of work has several rewarding elements.

And if you are interested in becoming a recreational therapist, this post has provided exhaustive information to help you understand the educational requirements you need to meet, and how to advance and succeed in your career.