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Become A Therapeutic Recreation Leader

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Working As A Therapeutic Recreation Leader

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • $86,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Therapeutic Recreation Leader Do

Recreation workers design and lead recreational and leisure activities for groups in volunteer agencies or recreation facilities, such as playgrounds, parks, camps, aquatic centers, and senior centers. They may lead activities such as arts and crafts, dance, sports, adventure programs, music, and camping.

Duties

Recreation workers typically do the following:

  • Plan, organize, and lead activities for groups or recreation centers
  • Explain the rules of activities and instruct participants at a variety of skill levels
  • Enforce safety rules to prevent injury
  • Modify activities to suit the needs of specific groups, such as seniors
  • Administer basic first aid if needed
  • Organize and set up the equipment that is used in recreational activities

The specific responsibilities of recreation workers vary greatly with their job title, their level of training, and the state they work in. The following are examples of types of recreation workers:

Activity specialists provide instruction and coaching primarily in one activity, such as dance, swimming, or tennis. These workers may work in camps, aquatic centers, or anywhere else where there is interest in a single activity.

Recreation leaders are responsible for a recreation program’s daily operation. They primarily organize and direct participants, schedule the use of facilities, set up and keep records of equipment use, and ensure that recreation facilities and equipment are used and maintained properly. They may lead classes and provide instruction in a recreational activity, such as kayaking or golf.

Camp counselors work directly with youths in residential (overnight) or day camps. They often lead and instruct children and teenagers in a variety of outdoor activities, such as swimming, hiking, horseback riding, or nature study. Counselors also provide guidance and supervise daily living and socialization. Some counselors may specialize in a specific activity, such as archery, boating, music, drama, or gymnastics.

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How To Become A Therapeutic Recreation Leader

Education and training requirements for recreation workers vary with the type of job, but workers typically need at least a high school diploma or the equivalent and receive on-the-job training.

Education and Training

Recreation workers typically need at least a high school diploma or the equivalent. Many receive on-the-job training that typically lasts less than a month.

Entry-level educational requirements vary with the type of position. For example, an activity leader position working with the elderly will have different requirements than a position as a summer camp counselor working with children.

Some positions may require a bachelor’s degree or college coursework. In 2014, the Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism, and Related Professions, a branch of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), accredited 80 bachelor’s degree programs in recreation or leisure studies. A bachelor’s degree in other subjects, such as liberal arts or public administration, may also qualify applicants for some positions.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Recreation workers must be able to communicate well. They often work with large groups of people and need to give clear instructions, motivate participants, and maintain order and safety.

Flexibility. Recreation workers must be flexible when planning activities. They must be able to adapt plans to suit changing environmental conditions and participants’ needs.

Leadership skills. Recreation workers should be able to lead both large and small groups. They often lead activities for people of all ages and abilities.

Physical strength. Recreation workers need to be physically fit. Their job may require a considerable amount of movement because they often demonstrate activities while explaining them.

Problem-solving skills. Recreation workers need strong problem-solving skills. They must be able to create and reinvent activities and programs for all types of participants.

For recreation workers who generally work part time, such as camp counselors and activity specialists, certain qualities may be more important than education. These qualities include a worker’s experience leading activities, the ability to work well with children or the elderly, and the ability to ensure the safety of participants.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

The NRPA offers four certifications for recreation workers:

  • Certified Parks and Recreation Professional (CPRP)
  • Certified Parks and Recreation Executive (CPRE)
  • Aquatic Facility Operator (AFO)
  • Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI)

Applicants may qualify for certification with different combinations of education and work experience. They also must take continuing education classes to maintain their certification.

The American Camp Association offers four certificates for various levels of camp staff, from Entry-Level Staff Certificate to Camp Director Certificate. Individuals who complete online courses may show their advanced level of knowledge of core competencies.

Some recreation jobs require other kinds of certification. For example, a lifesaving certificate is often required for teaching or coaching water-related activities. These certifications are available from organizations such as the YMCA or the American Red Cross. Specific requirements vary by job and employer.

Advancement

As workers gain experience, they may be promoted to positions with greater responsibilities. Recreation workers with experience and managerial skills may advance to supervisory or managerial positions. Eventually, they may become directors of a recreation department or may start their own recreation company.

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Therapeutic Recreation Leader Demographics

Gender

Female

60.7%

Male

23.2%

Unknown

16.1%
Ethnicity

White

61.3%

Hispanic or Latino

16.3%

Black or African American

12.0%

Asian

7.0%

Unknown

3.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

87.5%

Korean

6.3%

French

6.3%

Therapeutic Recreation Leader Education

Schools

Old Dominion University

15.2%

George Mason University

13.6%

University of Kentucky

7.6%

University of North Texas

6.1%

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

4.5%

State University of New York College at Cortland

4.5%

University of Phoenix

4.5%

University of Cincinnati

4.5%

Utica College

4.5%

State University of New York at Binghamton

4.5%

University of Florida

3.0%

Central New Mexico Community College

3.0%

Ithaca College

3.0%

San Jose State University

3.0%

Chicago State University

3.0%

Radford University

3.0%

New York University

3.0%

National University

3.0%

Central Michigan University

3.0%

Saint Augustine College

3.0%
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Majors

Rehabilitation Science

17.4%

Psychology

14.6%

Recreation Management

7.6%

Social Work

6.3%

Special Education

5.6%

Public Health

4.9%

Education

4.9%

Human Services

4.2%

Criminal Justice

4.2%

Biology

3.5%

Business

3.5%

Human Development

3.5%

Sociology

2.8%

School Counseling

2.8%

Nursing

2.8%

Communication

2.8%

Liberal Arts

2.8%

Computer Information Systems

2.1%

Occupational Therapy

2.1%

Health Care Administration

2.1%
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Degrees

Bachelors

48.0%

Masters

25.3%

Other

18.1%

Associate

5.9%

Certificate

1.4%

Doctorate

0.9%

License

0.5%
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Top Skills for A Therapeutic Recreation Leader

  1. Recreational Activities
  2. Treatment Plans
  3. Behavioral Issues
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Help integrate clients with disabilities into the community by using community resources and recreational activities.
  • Meet with therapists to create treatment plans and behavioral contracts.
  • Assisted in the coordinating and implementing of programs for children and adults with special needs and substance abuse addiction.
  • Consult with doctors and other mental health professionals, Our team includes social workers and therapists.
  • Assist with daily living, such as eating, dressing and Bathing of clients

How Would You Rate Working As a Therapeutic Recreation Leader?

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