Therapeutic recreation specialists provide treatment services to improve the health status and quality of life of individuals with disabilities and illness.

A promising healthcare field

Employment among recreation therapists is expected to grow by 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics as reported in its May 2015 Occupational Outlook Handbook. The job growth is expected to be due to a growing number of school-age children and aging adults. Employment opportunities will be best for those with bachelor’s degrees and certifications. The median annual wage of recreational therapists, reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $46,410 in 2016. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,010, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $72,340.

Learn more about becoming certified to be a therapeutic recreation specialist 

Work at

  • Acute care hospitals
  • Inpatient psychiatric hospitals
  • Partial psychiatric hospitals
  • Residential psychiatric facilities
  • Community-based treatment centers
  • Inpatient rehabilitation hospitals
  • Outpatient rehabilitation facilities
  • Intensive care units for children
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Private practices
  • At-risk youth services
  • Adult day centers
  • Municipal parks and recreation departments
  • Public or private school systems

Therapeutic recreation in the media

  • The Economist recently rated recreational therapy as the least likely profession to be replaced by technological advancement and automation within the next two decades.
  • MSN recently ranked recreational therapy number 10 in college degrees that lead to a satisfying career.
  • In 2011, CNNMoney ranked therapeutic recreation therapist as ninth of the "Best Jobs for Saving the World.” They noted that recreation therapists get people with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses to engage with the world again through art, music, and sports, working in private, commercial, clinical, or community settings.