Getting a recreational therapy degree is the first step in what can be a highly rewarding career in healthcare.
One of the fastest growing segments of the job landscape today, employment in rehabilitation and similar jobs are increasing, as is the demand for qualified employees to fill them.
Recreational therapy is a hands-on profession with continuous patient contact making it a valuable service for those in need of this assistance, and a great job for anyone who likes the satisfaction of knowing then have directly made a difference in people’s lives.
Becoming a Recreational Therapist
There are two ways that prospective students can get their degree, depending on whether they are enrolling in school as a new student, or have already earned a degree in another similar major.
Students entering college for the first time and wishing to become recreational therapists are required to earn a 4-year Bachelor’s degree from a recognized or accredited specialty program for therapeutic recreation.
Upon graduation, they will then be eligible to take the national examination and become a certified therapeutic recreation specialist (CTRS).
For students who have already graduated college with a Bachelor’s degree in a similar health oriented major and who are interested in also getting their degree in recreational therapy, there are different requirements.
Students will need to complete an additional curriculum of essential classes specific to therapeutic recreation in order to receive their degree. Also, to be eligible for this option of earning their recreational therapy degree, students must already be working in a therapeutic recreation environment in some capacity, and under the supervision of a CTRS.
Normally, students are required to complete many hours of clinical experience in order to get their degree, but for those already working in the field, this takes the place of those hands-on educational segments. Additionally, it shows a certain amount of dedication to the field of recreational therapy, and qualifies students for enrollment.
Qualified For Work
While these are the general practices in the US and Canada, the process of becoming qualified for work in a therapeutic recreation position is somewhat different.
Recreational therapy there is taught and practiced in its numerous specialty areas, meaning therapists must become qualified in art therapy, music therapy, drama therapy or other similar area.
Each of these career paths have individual requirements for education, some of which include prior core medical training and some that do not.
Overall, these programs are post-graduate programs and students with various undergraduate qualifications may enroll, but again, each of the different specialties has its own entrance, and prior work experience requirements.
Prospective students should be aware that there are numerous certificate and diploma courses available teaching recreational therapy, but these will not qualify them for becoming certified.
Also, since educational requirements were recently increased to a Bachelor’s degree, any remaining Associate’s degree programs will also not qualify students to become certified.
Therefore, it is very important that those interested in attending school for a degree in therapeutic recreation confirm their school’s accreditation status beforehand.
Recreational Therapy Certification
In both the US and Canada, students can become certified in therapeutic recreation after graduating from an accredited degree program, and then passing the certification examination.
While not all states and provinces require certification at this time, most employers still seek certified therapeutic recreation specialists (CRTS) anyway, so getting this qualification is important.
The National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) oversees testing, and there are multiple locations throughout both countries where those tests can be taken throughout the academic year.
In the UK, therapists in the different specialties are required to complete their postgraduate education at a recognized institution, which will then make them eligible for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
It is recommended that before enrolling at any schools, those seeking their specialty degree confirm that their program of choice is recognized by the HCPC or they will be unable to register upon completion of their education.
One of the truly great things is the diversity of the job. After earning a recreational therapy degree, certified students can find employment in a variety of different settings and with many different types of patients, from small children to the elderly, and all those in between.