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Occupational Profile

Recreation Therapist

Recreation therapists work with people who have illnesses and disabling conditions to improve their health and quality of life through leisure and recreation.

  • Avg. Salary $59,082.00
  • Avg. Wage $35.52
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Therapist

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

51%
51%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Recreation Therapist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Other Professional Occupations in Therapy and Assessment
NOC code: 3144
SOCIAL

Interest in mentoring patients by providing treatment and advising them on how to deal with their mental and physical abilities; and in consulting with other health care professionals to evaluate treatment plans

INNOVATIVE

Interest in co-ordinating, initiating, designing and implementing specialized therapy programs for the general patient population and in the community; may conduct research in respective field of specialization

METHODICAL

Interest in operating - manipulating equipment and following procedures to implement treatment plans by carrying out specialized therapy sessions employing techniques such as art, athletic, dance, music or recreational therapy or remedial gymnastics; and in observing and analyzing patients during treatment sessions

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation. 

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Oct 20, 2014

Recreation therapists work with people who have physical, mental, emotional, cognitive or social limitations that may affect their attitudes, ability and motivation to participate in leisure and maintain healthy, balanced lifestyles. Recreation therapists address patients' barriers to independent, meaningful social contact and community participation.

Recreation therapists work with patients to:

  • remove barriers that prevent patients from participating in meaningful leisure
  • educate patients about the physical, mental, social and emotional health benefits of participating in recreation activities
  • help patients practice skills and improve their ability to participate in leisure and community activities as independently as possible
  • maintain or improve quality of life and overall health despite illness or disability.

Recreation therapists work in collaboration with physicians, nurses, nutritionists, psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and social workers to:

  • assess patient skills, needs, interests and values related to recreation and leisure 
  • develop intervention plans and programs 
  • deliver programs for individuals or groups 
  • maintain records about client progress and communicate with the health team
  • evaluate the success of intervention plans and programs.
Working Conditions
Updated Oct 20, 2014

Working conditions vary considerably. For example, recreation therapists may work in health care settings, private homes, community facilities or outdoor environments. In some settings, they work shifts that include evenings and weekends. 

Recreation therapists may be required to participate in activities that require above average strength and stamina. Lifting up to 10 kg often is required.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Oct 20, 2014

Recreation therapists need the following characteristics:

  • excellent interpersonal communication skills
  • enthusiasm and a positive, flexible attitude
  • judgment, initiative and accountability
  • the ability to work independently and as part of a team.

They should enjoy working with people, developing and implementing innovative programs, and using specially designed equipment and techniques.

Educational Requirements
Updated Oct 20, 2014

The minimum education requirement is a degree or diploma in recreation with a specialization in therapeutic recreation. A four year degree is generally required for employment as a recreation therapist in acute care hospitals. Two year diploma program graduates may be hired as recreation therapy assistants. Employers also may require applicants to have:

  • first aid and CPR certification
  • training in group-based fitness instruction or therapy
  • specialized training in patient assessment
  • a valid Class 4 or 5 driver's license.

Required Education

The following schools offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements. Other eligible programs and courses may be available.

Lethbridge College


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

NorQuest College

Saskatchewan Polytechnic

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Oct 20, 2014

Recreation therapists are employed in a variety of settings:

  • hospitals and related urgent and community care facilities
  • long term care and assisted living residences
  • rehabilitation hospitals and clinics
  • day programs and outpatient services
  • private community based agencies.

Advancement opportunities vary depending on the organization and the therapist's academic qualifications.

Recreation therapists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 3144: Other Professional Occupations in Therapy and Assessment. In Alberta, 80% of people employed in this classification work in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Oct 20, 2014

For information about current collective agreements in the public and not-for-profit sectors, see the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website.

Other professional occupations in therapy and assessment
NOC code: 3144

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $17.00 $37.00 $30.50 $34.67
Overall $19.25 $47.30 $35.52 $40.00
Top $20.00 $48.73 $39.67 $46.16

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES
Health Care & Social Assistance

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

51%
51%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

24%
24%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

2%
2%

2015 Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related High School Subjects
  • Fine Arts
    • Dance
    • Drama
    • Music
    • Visual Arts
  • English Language Arts
  • Physical Education
  • Science
    • Biology
  • Social Studies
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Health Care Services
    • Human and Social Services
    • Recreation Leadership
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Oct 20, 2014

Alberta Therapeutic Recreation Association website: www.alberta-tr.org

Canadian Therapeutic Recreation Association website: www.canadian-tr.org

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website: www.hsaa.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Apr 11, 2014. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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