Recreational therapists provide therapeutic treatment for patients with certain disabilities or illnesses through the use of recreational activities. Therapists employ arts and crafts sessions, sports, games, dance and movement activities and group outings to create a positive, therapeutic environment for disabled individuals. They may be treating patients with mental or emotional turmoil, patients with physical disabilities, or patients recovering from difficult injuries. A recreational therapist uses these tools to both restore or enhance physical movement requiring motor functioning, to encourage socialization and to build confidence in patients who have been isolated by their disability.
A bachelor's degree in recreational therapy is generally required for a career in this field. A few states require licensure while others regulate through registration.
There were about 25,000 recreational therapists employed in the United States in 2006. Seventy percent of them worked in residential care facilities, hospitals and nursing homes. Others worked in community care facilities for the elderly, for special needs children and for the handicapped.
Jobs in this profession are projected to grow more slowly than the average pace of overall job growth. The jobs for recreational therapists in the hospital setting will decline as cost containment procedures continue to erode insured medical coverage. Recreational therapists with certification in specialties such as aquatic therapy or meditation may have more success finding work.
Lowest 10% $23,150
Median Salary $38,370
Highest 10% $60,280
Source: U.S. Department of Labor