recreational therapists need a bachelor's degree in therapeutic recreation,
or in recreation with a concentration in therapeutic recreation. People may
qualify for paraprofessional positions with an associate degree in
therapeutic recreation or another subject related to health care. An
associate degree in recreational therapy; training in art, drama, or music
therapy; or qualifying work experience may be sufficient for activity
director positions in nursing homes.
Although certification is usually voluntary, most employers
prefer to hire candidates who are certified therapeutic recreation
specialists. About 3 out of 4 recreational therapists work in a clinical
setting, which often requires certification by the National Council for
Therapeutic Recreation Certification. The council offers the Certified
Therapeutic Recreation Specialist credential to candidates who have a
bachelor's or graduate degree from an accredited educational institution,
pass a written certification examination, and complete a supervised
internship of at least 480 hours. Therapists must meet additional
requirements to maintain certification.
Therapists can also earn certifications in specific areas,
such as art therapy and aquatic therapy.
Recreational therapists must be comfortable working with
people who are ill or disabled. Therapists must be patient, tactful, and
persuasive when working with people who have a variety of special needs.
Ingenuity, a sense of humor, and imagination are needed to adapt activities
to individual needs, and good physical coordination is necessary to
demonstrate or participate in recreational activities.
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US
Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor