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Career Profile: Recreational Therapists

Plan, direct, or coordinate medically-approved recreation programs for patients in hospitals, nursing homes, or other institutions. Activities include sports, trips, dramatics, social activities, and crafts. May assess a patient condition and recommend appropriate recreational activity.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 17,600 people employed as recreational therapists in the United States. The median annual salary is $47,940. Entry level employees earn approximately $31,710 per year and senior employees earn approximately $80,610 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Obtain information from medical records, medical staff, family members and the patients, themselves, to assess patients' capabilities, needs and interests.
  • Conduct therapy sessions to improve patients' mental and physical well-being.
  • Plan, organize, direct, and participate in treatment programs and activities to facilitate patients' rehabilitation, help them integrate into the community, and prevent further medical problems.
  • Observe, analyze, and record patients' participation, reactions, and progress during treatment sessions, modifying treatment programs as needed.
  • Confer with members of treatment team to plan and evaluate therapy programs.
  • Instruct patient in activities and techniques, such as sports, dance, music, art, or relaxation techniques, designed to meet their specific physical or psychological needs.
  • Develop treatment plan to meet needs of patient, based on needs assessment, patient interests, and objectives of therapy.
  • Encourage clients with special needs and circumstances to acquire new skills and get involved in health-promoting leisure activities, such as sports, games, arts and crafts, and gardening.
  • Prepare and submit reports and charts to treatment team to reflect patients' reactions and evidence of progress or regression.
  • Counsel and encourage patients to develop leisure activities.
  • Develop discharge plans for patients.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
17,600
Annual Openings:
1,500
Increase in Openings by 2031:
4%
Annual Salary Range:
$31,710 - $80,610
Education Requirements:
Bachelor's degree