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Recreational Therapist

What is this job like?

Recreational therapists help people who are injured to get active again. They use sports, games, arts, crafts, and music to help patients build confidence and get back into life. These therapists are not the same as the recreation workers who conduct games and pastimes for fun.

Recreational therapists find out what patients need. They do this by looking at medical records and talking to other staff. They also listen to the patients and their families. They then make up a program to help the person. For instance, they might help a right-handed girl who can't use her right arm any more to throw a ball with her left arm.

Recreational therapists often work in special rooms at hospitals. They might also work with clients on a playing field or in a swimming pool. They plan events and keep records in offices. They generally work a 40-hour week. This may include some evenings, weekends, and holidays.


How do you get ready?

A college degree in recreation therapy is usually required. A National board certifies therapeutic recreation specialists. Then, they have to pass an exam.

Recreational therapists should be at ease working with disabled people. They have to be patient and tactful. They need imagination to adapt games to a person's needs. They must have good physical skills to show people how to do some activities.

How many jobs are there?

Recreational therapists held about 23,300 jobs in 2008. About 7 out of 10 were in nursing care facilities and hospitals.What about the future?

Employment of recreational therapists is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2018. This is because they will be needed to serve a growing number of older persons and persons with disabilities. Hospitals and nursing homes will provide most jobs. Adult day care, assisted-living, social service, and physical and psychiatric rehabilitation sites will also provide many jobs.


How much does this job pay?

In May 2008, recreational therapists had average yearly wages of $39,930.

Are there other jobs like this?

Art therapists

Counselors (rehabilitation counselors)

Dance therapists

Drama therapists

Music therapists

Occupational therapists

Orientation therapists for blind and visually-impaired persons

Physical therapists

Recreation and fitness workers (aerobics instructors, fitness trainers, personal trainers)

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