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Recreational Therapists

Annual Earnings Percentiles

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  • Social: 95
  • Purpose: 95
  • Creative: 91
  • Analytical: 38
  • Supported: 31

What Recreational Therapists Do

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.

Work Environment

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.

College Majors

Showing data from the American Community Survey for the following US Census occupation categories:

  • Recreational therapists

Bachelor's degree majors are shown.

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    Job Outlook

    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.

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    Job Trends for Recreational Therapists

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    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.

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