If you love helping people who are either disabled, or suffering from the long term effects of illness or injury, then a career in recreational therapy might be right for you.
Recreational therapists are an important part of the healthcare professional community, and usually find their jobs to be highly rewarding.
Demand for this position has been growing, so there is no better time than the present for anyone interested in providing this valuable service to enroll in schools and graduate to work in this important, yet underrated profession.
What Recreational Therapists Do
A typical job description can include helping patients such as physically and mentally disabled individuals, elderly patients, developmentally disabled children, emotionally disabled individuals and more.
The main importance of the job is in using recreation – play, arts and crafts, dance, sports, games, field trips and other activities – promote active and interested participation by the patient.
These activities help to improve and maintain physical strength, motor function and coordination, social skills and emotional well-being. By helping those in need to learn the same things that ever other person learns, and to feel included in society, therapists play an important role in allowing people with many different challenges to lead happier and more productive lives.
Nursing care and skilled nursing facilities employs many recreational therapists. Others find jobs at regular hospitals and surgical facilities. Additionally, many find employment at state owned and private facilities for psychiatric care and substance abuse.
Depending on which type of facility an individual is employed by, salary ranges from between about $25,000 annually to upward of $63,000 annually. Currently, the median salary for recreational therapists is just over $40,000 per year.
Becoming a Recreational Therapist
The requirements have recently changed. Today, there are two ways in which one can become a certified and licensed recreational therapist, those being to either graduate from accredited programs, or through a work experience certification, although the former is much more preferred.
Associate’s degree programs do exist, but students should be warned that they are being phased out; most employers are seeking graduates with the minimum of a Bachelor’s degree as a result.
There are also Master’s and Doctoral degree programs are also available for those who wish to take their education to its fullest, but it is not necessary for professionals to have those degree to become certified, licensed and employed.
Although it is not possible to earn a base degree online, many programs do offer online portions; continuing education and advanced degrees can sometimes be done in an online format, however.
As with just about any other profession in the medical and healthcare profession, attending only accredited programs is essential in order for students to be assured they are gaining the most desired and current training.