Recreational therapists plan, direct, and coordinate recreation-based treatment programs for people with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses. These therapists use a variety of modalities, including arts and crafts; drama, music, and dance; sports and games; aquatics; and community outings to help maintain or improve a patient’s physical, social, and emotional well-being.
Recreational therapists work in a variety of settings. Most therapists work full time.
How to Become a Recreational Therapist
Recreational therapists typically need a bachelor’s degree. Many employers require therapists to be certified.
Employment of recreational therapists is projected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. As the large baby-boom generation ages, they will need recreational therapists to help treat age-related injuries and illnesses and to help them maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.
This occupation supported 19,800 jobs in 2012 and 18,600 jobs in 2014, reflecting a decline of 6.1%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to increase by 13.6% in 2022 to 22,500 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 20,300, compared with an observed value of 18,600, 8.4% lower than expected. This indicates current employment trends are much worse than the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to increase by 11.6% in 2024 to 20,900 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 23,000 jobs for 2024, 10.0% higher than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are much worse than the 2012 trend within this occupation.