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Become A Rehabilitation Therapist

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Working As A Rehabilitation Therapist

  • 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

  • $59,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Rehabilitation Therapist 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 A Rehabilitation Therapist

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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Rehabilitation Therapist Career Paths

Rehabilitation Therapist
Therapist Case Manager
Registered Nurse Case Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Therapist Clinician Case Manager
Director Of Social Services
6 Yearsyrs
Therapist Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Director
9 Yearsyrs
Recreation Therapist Program Coordinator Registered Nurse
Registered Nurse Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Recreation Therapist Program Coordinator Clinical Coordinator
Clinical Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Recreation Therapist Program Coordinator Ambulatory Care Coordinator
Patient Care Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Substance Abuse Counselor Clinician Case Manager
Medical Case Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Substance Abuse Counselor Clinician Program Manager
Service Program Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Substance Abuse Counselor Team Leader Program Director
Director Of Program Services
8 Yearsyrs
Counselor Instructor Massage Therapist
Lead Therapist
5 Yearsyrs
Counselor Administrator Registered Nurse Case Manager
Director Of Case Management
11 Yearsyrs
Counselor Administrator Nurse Manager
Managed Care Director
9 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Team Leader Program Director
Director Of Residential Services
7 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Adjunct Professor Superintendent
Resident Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Administrator Registered Nurse Case Manager
Utilities Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Respiratory Therapist Lead Therapist Clinical Director
Director Of Rehabilitation
7 Yearsyrs
Respiratory Therapist Ambulatory Care Coordinator Program Supervisor
Residential Program Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Respiratory Therapist Clinical Instructor Nurse Manager
Administrative Director, Behavioral Health Services
11 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Therapist Office Manager House Manager
Home Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Therapist Lead Teacher House Manager
Housing Director
6 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Rehabilitation Therapist?

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Do you work as a Rehabilitation Therapist?

Average Yearly Salary
$59,000
Show Salaries
$35,000
Min 10%
$59,000
Median 50%
$59,000
Median 50%
$59,000
Median 50%
$59,000
Median 50%
$59,000
Median 50%
$59,000
Median 50%
$59,000
Median 50%
$97,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Telecare
Highest Paying City
Washington, DC
Highest Paying State
District of Columbia
Avg Experience Level
3.2 years
How much does a Rehabilitation Therapist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Rehabilitation Therapist in the United States is $59,137 per year or $28 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $35,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $97,000.

Real Rehabilitation Therapist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Lead Rehabilitation Therapist Sharp Grossmont Hospital La Mesa, CA Jul 15, 2010 $88,442
Rehabilitation Therapist Visiting Nurse Association of Boston Braintree Town, MA Dec 16, 2012 $83,909
Physical Rehabilitation Therapist Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation Southaven, MS Jun 25, 2010 $82,123
Rehabilitation Therapist, State Facilities (Music-Safety) Atascadero State Hospital Atascadero, CA Dec 19, 2015 $79,500
Rehabilitation Therapist (Music, Safety) Department of State Hospitals-Patton Patton Village, CA May 17, 2015 $77,556
Rehabilitation Therapist, State Facilities(Recreati Atascadero State Hospital Atascadero, CA Dec 02, 2012 $76,404
Rehabilitation Therapist Patton State Hospital Patton Village, CA Jul 01, 2012 $76,404
Rehabilitation Therapist State Facilities (Music-S Atascadero State Hospital Atascadero, CA Aug 17, 2012 $76,404
Rehabilitation Therapist Department of State Hospitals-Patton Patton Village, CA Sep 01, 2014 $76,404
Rehabilitation Therapist (Music-Safety) Atascadero State Hospital Atascadero, CA Dec 19, 2012 $75,120
Rehabilitation Therapist, State Facilities(Music-Sa Atascadero State Hospital Atascadero, CA Dec 19, 2012 $75,120
Rehabilitation Therapist State Facilities(Recreati Atascadero State Hospital Atascadero, CA Aug 16, 2013 $75,120
Rehabilitation Therapist-Music (Safety) California Department of Mental Health Coalinga, CA Sep 30, 2012 $71,544
Rehabilitation Therapist, State Facilities (Recreat Atascadero State Hospital Atascadero, CA Jan 04, 2013 $71,544
Burn Rehabilitation Therapist Washington Hospital Center Washington, DC Mar 16, 2010 $70,720
Rehabilitation Therapists Department of State Hospitals Vacaville Psychiatri Vacaville, CA May 23, 2013 $69,000
Rehabilitation Therapist Metropolitan State Hospital Norwalk, CA Mar 11, 2008 $68,148
Rehabilitation Therapist-Music California Department of State Hospitals Stockton, CA Sep 13, 2014 $68,148 -
$80,220
Rehabilitation Therapist-Music (Safety) California Department of State Hospitals Stockton, CA Sep 01, 2014 $68,148 -
$80,220
Rehabilitation Therapist, Recreation Atascadero State Hospital Atascadero, CA Apr 01, 2010 $62,988
Rehabilitation Therapist-Dance Napa State Hospital Napa, CA Dec 05, 2010 $62,760 -
$72,768
Rehabilitation Therapist Patton State Hospital Patton Village, CA Sep 01, 2011 $61,901 -
$69,409
Rehabilitation Therapist Patton State Hospital Patton Village, CA Oct 01, 2011 $61,901 -
$69,409
Rehabilitation Therapist Patton State Hospital Patton Village, CA Sep 19, 2011 $61,901 -
$69,409
Rehabilitation Therapist Patton State Hospital Patton Village, CA Sep 01, 2009 $61,645
Rehabilitation Therapist-Music (Safety) California Department of Mental Health Coalinga, CA Oct 01, 2009 $59,375 -
$83,700

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Top Skills for A Rehabilitation Therapist

  1. Treatment Plans
  2. Mental Health Services
  3. Intake Assessments
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Developed patient treatment plans utilizing individualized goals and objectives that were measurable regarding the patients progress.
  • Provided inmates with mental health services.
  • Performed and executed intake assessments, treatment plans, and billing for private insurance and Medicare.
  • Conducted group therapy sessions and coordinated recreational therapy.
  • Provide therapeutic crisis intervention and emergency services as required.

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Top 10 Best States for Rehabilitation Therapists

  1. Connecticut
  2. New Jersey
  3. District of Columbia
  4. New York
  5. Nevada
  6. Pennsylvania
  7. California
  8. Minnesota
  9. North Carolina
  10. Ohio
  • (102 jobs)
  • (101 jobs)
  • (19 jobs)
  • (262 jobs)
  • (20 jobs)
  • (256 jobs)
  • (198 jobs)
  • (92 jobs)
  • (124 jobs)
  • (212 jobs)

Rehabilitation Therapist Demographics

Gender

Female

58.2%

Male

26.2%

Unknown

15.7%
Ethnicity

White

61.4%

Hispanic or Latino

13.8%

Black or African American

12.5%

Asian

8.0%

Unknown

4.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

69.6%

French

13.0%

Braille

4.3%

Greek

4.3%

Russian

4.3%

Arabic

4.3%
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Rehabilitation Therapist Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

12.0%

Nova Southeastern University

7.7%

Florida State University

7.0%

New York University

6.3%

East Carolina University

5.6%

Webster University

5.6%

University of Southern California

5.6%

Morgan State University

4.9%

Towson University

4.9%

Troy University

4.2%

California State University - Long Beach

4.2%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

3.5%

Appalachian State University

3.5%

Southern Illinois University Carbondale

3.5%

Loyola University Maryland

3.5%

Walden University

3.5%

University of Florida

3.5%

University of Central Florida

3.5%

Pratt Institute-Main

3.5%

Drexel University

3.5%
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Majors

Rehabilitation Science

16.7%

Psychology

13.4%

Social Work

8.6%

Mental Health Counseling

7.3%

School Counseling

6.3%

Counseling Psychology

5.6%

Kinesiology

5.5%

Business

4.6%

Clinical Psychology

4.1%

Occupational Therapy

3.8%

Criminal Justice

3.6%

Sociology

3.0%

Nursing

2.8%

Physical Therapy

2.8%

Education

2.5%

Family Therapy

2.2%

Elementary Education

2.0%

Health Education

1.8%

Recreation Management

1.8%

Health Care Administration

1.5%
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Degrees

Masters

45.7%

Bachelors

30.5%

Other

10.6%

Doctorate

5.2%

Associate

5.0%

Certificate

2.1%

License

0.8%

Diploma

0.1%
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