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Become An Activity Specialist

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Working As An Activity Specialist

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Getting Information
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $74,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Activity Specialist Do

Recreational therapists plan, direct, and coordinate recreation-based treatment programs for people with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses. These therapists use a variety of modalities, including arts and crafts; drama, music, and dance; sports and games; aquatics; and community outings to help maintain or improve a patient’s physical, social, and emotional well-being.

Duties

Recreational therapists typically do the following:

  • Assess patients’ needs through observations, medical records, tests, and discussions with other healthcare professionals, patients’ families, and patients
  • Create treatment plans and programs that meet patients’ needs and interests
  • Plan and implement interventions to prevent harm to a patient
  • Engage patients in therapeutic activities, such as exercise, games, and community outings
  • Help patients learn social skills needed to become or remain independent
  • Teach patients about ways to cope with stress, anxiety, or depression
  • Record and analyze a patient’s progress
  • Evaluate interventions for effectiveness

Recreational therapists help people reduce depression, stress, and anxiety; recover basic physical and mental abilities; build confidence; and socialize effectively.

They use activities, such as arts and crafts, dance, or sports, to help their patients. For example, a recreational therapist can help a patient who is paralyzed on one side of their body by teaching them to adapt activities, like casting a fishing rod or swinging a golf club, by using their functional side.

Therapists often treat specific groups of patients, such as children with cancer. Therapists may use activities such as kayaking or a ropes course to teach patients to stay active and to form social relationships.

Recreational therapists help people with disabilities integrate into the community by teaching them how to use community resources and recreational activities. For example, therapists may teach a patient who uses a wheelchair how to use public transportation.

Therapists may also provide interventions for patients who need help developing social and coping skills. For example, a therapist may use a therapy dog to help patients manage their depression or anxiety.

Therapists may work with physicians or surgeons, registered nurses, psychologists, social workers, physical therapists, teachers, or occupational therapists. Recreational therapists are different from recreation workers, who organize recreational activities primarily for enjoyment.

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How To Become An Activity Specialist

Recreational therapists typically need a bachelor’s degree. Many employers require therapists to be certified by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC).

Education

Recreational therapists typically need a bachelor’s degree, usually in recreational therapy or a related field such as recreation and leisure studies.

Recreational therapy programs include courses in assessment, human anatomy, medical and psychiatric terminology, characteristics of illnesses and disabilities, and the use of assistive devices and technology. Bachelor’s degree programs usually include an internship.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most employers, particularly those in hospitals and other clinical settings, prefer to hire certified recreational therapists. The NCTRC offers the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) credential. Candidates may qualify for certification through one of two pathways. The first option requires a bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy, which includes the completion of a supervised internship of at least 560 hours, and passing an exam. The second option also requires passing an exam, but allows candidates with a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated subject to qualify with a combination of education and work experience. Therapists must take continuing education classes to maintain certification.

NCTRC also offers specialty certification in five areas of practice: behavioral health, community inclusion services, developmental disabilities, geriatrics, and physical medicine/rehabilitation. Therapists also may earn certificates from other organizations to show proficiency in specific therapy techniques, such as aquatic therapy or aromatherapy.

As of 2014, only New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Utah required recreational therapists to obtain a license. Requirements vary by state. For specific requirements, contact the state’s medical board.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Recreational therapists should be kind and empathetic when providing support to patients and their families. They may deal with patients who are in pain or under emotional stress.

Leadership skills. Recreational therapists must be able to plan, develop, and implement intervention programs in an effective manner. They must be engaging and able to motivate patients to participate in a variety of therapeutic activities.

Listening skills. Recreational therapists must listen carefully to a patient’s problems and concerns. They can then determine an appropriate course of treatment for that patient.

Patience. Recreational therapists may work with some patients who require more time and special attention than others.

Resourcefulness. Recreational therapists customize treatment plans for patients. They must be both creative and flexible when adapting activities or programs to each patient’s needs.

Speaking skills. Recreational therapists need to communicate well with their patients. They must give clear directions during activities or instructions on healthy coping techniques.

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Average Yearly Salary
$74,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$42,000
Min 10%
$74,000
Median 50%
$74,000
Median 50%
$74,000
Median 50%
$74,000
Median 50%
$74,000
Median 50%
$74,000
Median 50%
$74,000
Median 50%
$133,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Constellation Brands
Highest Paying City
Green Bay, WI
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
1.9 years
How much does an Activity Specialist make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Activity Specialist in the United States is $75,056 per year or $36 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $42,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $133,000.

Real Activity Specialist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Assistant Activity Specialist Nysarc; Inc., NYC Chapter New York, NY Sep 04, 2015 $56,680
Assistant Activity Specialist Nysarc; Inc., NYC Chapter New York, NY Nov 29, 2016 $53,872
Activities Specialist North Shore-LIJ Health System Glen, NY Jul 21, 2010 $41,582
Membership Activities Specialist Neighborhood Centers, Inc. Houston, TX Jan 31, 2011 $35,350
Social & Community Activity Specialist Better Home Living, LLC Bentonville, AR Oct 01, 2009 $33,738
Social & Community Activity Specialist Better Home Living LLC Bentonville, AR Oct 01, 2009 $33,738
Tennis Activities Specialist Ulian Krinsky School of Tennis King of Prussia, PA Oct 01, 2010 $31,873
Tennis Activities Specialist Julian Krinsky School of Tennis King of Prussia, PA Aug 30, 2010 $31,873

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Top Skills for An Activity Specialist

  1. Homework Assignments
  2. Ensure Safety
  3. Recreational Activities
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Encourage participant to complete homework assignments and provide assistant with necessary.
  • Work with division leader to ensure safety of all children's.
  • Developed classroom environment conducive to engage students in their educational endeavors while providing recreational activities.
  • Devised and implemented daily lesson plans that incorporate various dance genres and choreographic elements.
  • Coordinated and facilitated educational, recreational, and skill building activities for Plano ISD students Customer Service Representative / Cashier

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Top 10 Best States for Activity Specialists

  1. Alaska
  2. West Virginia
  3. District of Columbia
  4. Minnesota
  5. Michigan
  6. Nevada
  7. California
  8. New Jersey
  9. Connecticut
  10. New York
  • (22 jobs)
  • (44 jobs)
  • (73 jobs)
  • (246 jobs)
  • (347 jobs)
  • (53 jobs)
  • (844 jobs)
  • (240 jobs)
  • (88 jobs)
  • (457 jobs)

Activity Specialist Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 4,092 Activity Specialist resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Activity Specialist Resume

View Resume Examples

Activity Specialist Demographics

Gender

Female

52.8%

Male

32.7%

Unknown

14.5%
Ethnicity

White

59.7%

Hispanic or Latino

19.0%

Black or African American

11.6%

Asian

6.2%

Unknown

3.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

67.8%

French

7.8%

Portuguese

3.9%

Italian

3.4%

Chinese

2.9%

Mandarin

2.4%

Hindi

2.0%

German

1.5%

Japanese

1.5%

Cantonese

1.0%

Urdu

1.0%

Arabic

1.0%

Vietnamese

0.5%

Hmong

0.5%

Korean

0.5%

Bengali

0.5%

Russian

0.5%

Croatian

0.5%

Carrier

0.5%

Tagalog

0.5%
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Activity Specialist Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

10.3%

Brooklyn College of the City University of New York

7.2%

Borough of Manhattan Community College of the City University of New York

6.0%

Austin Community College

5.7%

Touro College

5.5%

Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York

5.5%

LIU Brooklyn

5.0%

Mercy College - Dobbs Ferry

4.8%

University of North Texas

4.8%

Saint John's University - New York

4.5%

Texas State University

4.5%

New York University

4.3%

York College

4.3%

Ashford University

4.1%

Monroe College

4.1%

John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York

4.1%

Hunter College of the City University of New York

4.1%

University of Texas at El Paso

3.8%

Hofstra University

3.8%

College of New Rochelle

3.6%
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Majors

Business

16.4%

Psychology

11.7%

Kinesiology

5.9%

Criminal Justice

5.9%

Social Work

5.4%

Communication

5.1%

Liberal Arts

5.0%

Nursing

4.6%

Human Services

4.6%

Education

4.4%

Rehabilitation Science

3.8%

Health Care Administration

3.8%

Sociology

3.8%

English

3.0%

Marketing

3.0%

Biology

3.0%

Medical Assisting Services

2.8%

Fine Arts

2.7%

Political Science

2.5%

Management

2.4%
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Degrees

Bachelors

44.5%

Other

21.0%

Masters

15.9%

Associate

11.9%

Certificate

3.8%

Diploma

1.2%

Doctorate

0.9%

License

0.7%
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