Recreation Specialist Job Description and Career Outlook
Recreation specialists, also known as therapeutic recreation specialists or recreational therapists, are human service professionals who work with both individuals and groups. These professionals work in various settings including rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, hospitals and mental health clinics. Recreation specialists develop and deliver therapeutic social and play-based programs and interventions for patients to promote physical, mental and emotional health.
Recreation Specialist Requirements and Common Tasks
Entry-level recreation specialist positions usually require a bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation or a general recreation degree with a focus on therapeutic interventions. These professionals need to maintain a working knowledge of mental health issues, human physiology, illnesses and disabilities. They also need to have strong interpersonal skills and feel comfortable working with people who have physical and/or cognitive barriers.
Most recreation specialists work in health care environments such as outpatient clinics or hospices, where they assess client needs and design activities that can help their clients achieve greater independence in the face of disabilities or illness. These therapeutic activities can include social skills games, sports, crafts and outings in the community. Recreation specialists commonly work as part of an interdisciplinary patient care team that can include social workers, nurses, doctors and other therapists.
Recreation Specialist Salary and Career Outlook
According to the 2010 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages report, the mean annual wage for recreation therapists and specialists is $41,440. The BLS predicts that employment opportunities in this profession will grow by 15 percent between 2008 and 2018, driven by the increasing number of nursing homes and retirement residences throughout the country.
How To Become a Recreation Specialist
To work as a recreation specialist in most settings a bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation or a related field is required. Some assistant recreation specialist positions within nursing homes may accept applicants with a college diploma. Certification by a national regulatory body such as the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification may be required by employers. Because many of the patients that recreation specialists work with are vulnerable, such as children, seniors and the disabled, these professionals usually need to maintain a clear criminal record.
Recreation and Human Services Related Programs and Schools
- B.S. in Human Services/Gerontology
- B.S. in Human Services/Family and Child Services
- B.S. in Human Services/Addictions
- B.S. in Human Services/Management
- And more...
- Human Services (MS) (online)
- MA in Human Services, Mental Health Administration Specialization
- MA in Human Services, Not-for-Profit Management Specialization
- B.S. in Psychology - Human Services
- B.S. in Human Services - Cultural Studies
- Ph.D. in Human Services - Social Policy Analysis and Planning
- M.S. in Human Services - Family Studies and Interventions
- And more...
- Master of Social Work