A bachelor's degree in recreational therapy is required for most entry-level positions. These programs typically cover areas such as treatment and program planning, human body, physiology, kinesiology, and professional ethics. Some programs offer the opportunity to specialize in occupational therapy, and in the intervention of those that are mentally or physically challenged. Most employers prefer to hire candidates who are Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS). Therapists become certified through the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) or through a provincial regulatory body such as, Therapeutic Recreation Ontario (TRO). To qualify for certification under the Academic Path, applicants must have a bachelor's degree in TR, complete an internship under the supervision of a CTRS, and pass a written exam. There is also an Equivalency Path A and B for certification. The requirements are slightly different and include a bachelor's degree outside of TR, paid work experience, and successful completion of the written exam.
Certification: The National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification, a charter member of the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA), also provides a certification that expires after 5 years. Those who are certified must apply for re-certification at the end of the expiration period. Specialty certification is now available in 5 areas. Health and human service professionals who acquire a higher level of knowledge and more advanced skills provide the consumer with a greater depth of service compared to individuals who practice at less advanced levels. Specialization is well recognized within professional practice and has become the norm within the health and human service delivery system today. The median salary for recreational therapists in the United States was estimated $44,839 a year in 2011. This number may vary slightly based on specific geographic region, years of experience, and type of employing agency.
Licensure: There are currently four states with Recreational Therapy licensure (Utah, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma). To practice Recreational Therapy in these states, professionals must possess a current, valid state license. In addition to the four currently licensed states, numerous other states are currently moving toward developing licensure. Through the Joint Task Force on Recreational Therapy Licensure sponsored by the American Therapeutic Recreation Association and the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification, significant progress is being made in the licensure arena. Licensure is being pursued by the profession as a further means of protecting the public from potential harm.