Recreation therapists are responsible for planning, directing, and coordinating recreation-based treatment programs for people with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses. They work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, and government parks and recreation departments.

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. Educational requirements to qualify for the position include a bachelor's degree in recreational therapy or a related field such as art therapy and physical therapy.

It usually takes a person four to five years to become a recreation therapist. A small number of states within the United States require licensing. While you may not need a license in your state, most employers prefer to hire recreation therapists with the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) credential.

Recreation therapists' employment is projected to grow 8% in the coming years, much faster than the average for all occupations. The median pay for a normal workweek is $23.18 an hour, which equates to $48,220 a year. The position is highly rewarding, both emotionally, monetarily, and physically.

What Does a Recreation Therapist Do

There are certain skills that many recreation therapists have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed listening skills, speaking skills and leadership skills.

Learn more about what a Recreation Therapist does

How To Become a Recreation Therapist

If you're interested in becoming a recreation therapist, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 76.3% of recreation therapists have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 11.3% of recreation therapists have master's degrees. Even though most recreation therapists have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Learn More About How To Become a Recreation Therapist

Recreation Therapist Career Paths

Average Salary for a Recreation Therapist

Recreation Therapists in America make an average salary of $55,992 per year or $27 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $85,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $36,000 per year.
Average Recreation Therapist Salary
$55,992 Yearly
$26.92 hourly
10 %
90 %

What Am I Worth?


Recreation Therapist Education

Recreation Therapist Majors

Recreation Therapist Degrees


76.3 %


11.3 %


8.0 %

Top Colleges for Recreation Therapists

1. California State University - Long Beach

Long Beach, CA • Private

In-State Tuition

2. California State University - Sacramento

Sacramento, CA • Private

In-State Tuition

3. University of Utah

Salt Lake City, UT • Private

In-State Tuition

4. San Diego State University

San Diego, CA • Private

In-State Tuition

5. Lehman College of the City University of New York

Bronx, NY • Private

In-State Tuition

6. SUNY College at Cortland

Cortland, NY • Private

In-State Tuition

7. University of Maryland - College Park

College Park, MD • Private

In-State Tuition

8. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN • Private

In-State Tuition

9. University of Georgia

Athens, GA • Private

In-State Tuition

10. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, IL • Private

In-State Tuition

Top Skills For a Recreation Therapist

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 18.5% of recreation therapists listed treatment plans on their resume, but soft skills such as listening skills and speaking skills are important as well.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Recreation Therapist Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Recreation Therapist templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Recreation Therapist resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Recreation Therapist Demographics

Recreation Therapist Gender Distribution


After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among recreation therapists, 72.5% of them are women, while 27.5% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among recreation therapists is White, which makes up 67.0% of all recreation therapists.

  • The most common foreign language among recreation therapists is Spanish at 59.8%.

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Managing Your Health: The Role of Physical Therapy and Exercise

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Best States For a Recreation Therapist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a recreation therapist. The best states for people in this position are California, Oregon, Alaska, and Utah. Recreation therapists make the most in California with an average salary of $96,896. Whereas in Oregon and Alaska, they would average $79,290 and $73,401, respectively. While recreation therapists would only make an average of $72,303 in Utah, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. California

Total Recreation Therapist Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

2. North Dakota

Total Recreation Therapist Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

3. Nebraska

Total Recreation Therapist Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Full List Of Best States For Recreation Therapists

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Top Recreation Therapist Employers