To become a recreational therapist, one should complete an entry level education of Bachelor’s level degree in therapeutic recreation or recreation therapy, which usually lasts for 4 years. The candidate should complete field placements, complete professional internship and gain relevant work experience in recreation therapy. Upon successful completion of internship, one should pass the NCTRC certification exam officially conducted by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC). Alternatively, one can major in Recreation Therapy and complete a 12 -15 week internship, under the direct supervision of CTRS (Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist). One can become a CTRS by the successful completion of certification exam. Keep reading for more information about how to become a recreational therapist.
Why to become a Recreational therapist ?
Recreation Therapy is a rewarding and lucrative career choice and it requires completion of a Bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation. One can start working after earning a bachelor’s degree unlike most of the therapist degrees. Recreation therapy career offers wide range of options and many opportunities. Moreover, it can be successfully practiced in a variety of settings. It has been reported by the USBLS that a career in therapeutic Recreation is a rapidly developing field and it can be taken lightly by the practitioners. It is often fun and entertaining in nature. In general, practitioners can work at various employment sectors such as hospitals, schools, camps, rehabilitation centers, correctional facilities, mental health facilities and nursing homes. In fact, it is a highly demanded career choice due to the increase of elderly patients and it has been considered as a faster growing area for employment.
Recreational therapy requirements
An aspiring recreational therapist should first complete a bachelor’s degree program that lasts for the duration of four years. A degree program in therapeutic recreation includes completion of coursework in human behavior, anatomy, clinical procedures, assessment and documentation, and health psychology. As part of a bachelor’s degree program, the candidate should complete a mandatory professional internship and work with patients under the guidance of certified recreational therapists. Then, one can prefer to advance the recreation therapy career by pursuing a master’s degree, which requires 1.5 to 2 years to get completed. In addition, pursuing a doctorate degree in recreational therapy can generally last for about 4 to 8 years. In addition, one may prefer to specialize within the field during their graduate degree program. Some of the areas of specialization include geriatrics or pediatrics.
Recreational therapy training
The candidate gain adequate training experience during the Bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Moreover, students work closely with the patients during an internship in therapeutic recreation. During internship, the candidate gains hands-on experience in a hospital or clinical setting. One gets an opportunity to work with experienced practitioners and to utilize one’s leisure and recreational activities to support the patients and to improve their physical and psychological function, to improve their social skills and minimize anxiety, stress and depression. A recreational therapist should complete an internship in order to fulfill the requirement for national certification.
Recreational therapy license
Although, many recreational therapists need not obtain a license to practice, however certain states require them to hold a license. Moreover, some employers may advice a recreational therapist to obtain a license. In such cases, one should complete an examination and qualify for the license. Most of the states require recreational therapists to receive certification from the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation. One should also maintain licensure by completing the continuing education requirements. In fact, each continuing education credit requires completion of coursework in workplace training, therapeutic recreation, supervising interns, professional journal publication, and participating on recreational therapy committees.
Recreational therapy certification
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, many recreational therapists are advised to earn certification for the purpose of job placements. In fact, credentialed recreational therapists are given a highest preference by many employers. The candidate should complete the CTRS certification board exams that are officially conducted by the NCTRC (National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification). The National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification is the main certifying body that certifies the candidates. The Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist certification is usually offered to students with a higher degree or a bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy, on passing exams or to those who have successfully completed a 350 to 480-hour internship program.
How much does a Recreational therapist earn ? For more information read Recreational therapist salary article.