Are you interested in creating recreation experiences and opportunities for individuals with disabilities? If so, therapeutic recreation may be the major you have been looking for!
Therapeutic recreation is: "...treatment, education, and recreation services to help people with illnesses, disabilities, and other conditions to develop and use their leisure in ways that enhance their health, functional abilities, independence, and quality of life" (National Therapeutic Recreation Society, 2000).
Therapeutic recreation specialists typically work with individuals who have some type of cognitive, emotional, and/or physical limitation. For example, you may find therapeutic recreation specialists who work with hospitalized children who have cancer or are recovering from burns, adolescents and adults with psychiatric disorders, youth at-risk, older adults recovering from strokes or living with dementia, children and adults with developmental disabilities such as intellectual disability, children and adults with physical impairments such as strokes or spinal cord injuries. A variety of agencies employ certified therapeutic recreation specialists, including community based recreation agencies, camps, schools, children's hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, physical rehabilitation hospitals, general hospitals, adult day care, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes, to name a few!
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “fast employment growth [in therapeutic recreation] is expected in assisted living, outpatient physical and psychiatric rehabilitation, and [community] services for people with disabilities.” The median annual salary for therapeutic recreation specialists in 2000 was $28,650. According to the American Therapeutic Recreation Association, the mean salary among a random sample of their members was $35,656 in 2006.
The national organization for therapeutic recreation specialists is the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA). We encourage students to consider joining ATRA. There are membership applications on-line and you may join ATRA via its website.
All students who complete the requirements for the B.S. degree in therapeutic recreation will be eligible to sit for the examine to become certified as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS). This certification is a basic requirement for entry-level positions in the field of therapeutic recreation. For further information on this professional certification you may access the website of the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC).
Finally, students considering a major in TR or students enrolled in our program who are looking for internship sites or program ideas may benefit from pursuing the Therapeutic Recreation Directory.
Example of Job Opportunities as a Recreation Therapist
- Community based recreation agencies
- Children's hospitals
- Psychiatric hospitals
- Physical rehabilitation hospitals
- General hospitals
- Adult day care
- Assisted living facilities
- Nursing homes
Links of Interest