Skip to the main content
This website uses cookies to give you a better online experience. By using this website or closing this message, you are agreeing to our cookie policy. More information
Alberta Supports Contact Centre

Toll Free 1-877-644-9992

Alert

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted legislation and services. Information on this website may not reflect the current situation in Alberta. Please visit alberta.ca for up-to-date information about these impacts.

Recreation Therapist

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

Also Known As

Therapist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Other Professional Occupations in Therapy and Assessment (3144) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Other Professional Occupations in Therapy and Assessment (D044) 
  • 2011 NOC: Other professional occupations in therapy and assessment (3144) 
  • 2016 NOC: Other professional occupations in therapy and assessment (3144) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Other Professional Occupations in Therapy and Assessment
2006 NOC : 3144

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Oct 20, 2014

Recreation therapists help people with illness or disability (whether physical, mental, emotional, cognitive or social) maintain healthy, balanced lifestyles. They address clients’ barriers to leisure and recreation, independent social contact, and being active in the community.

Recreation therapists:

  • identify and address barriers that keep clients from leisure activities
  • teach clients about the health benefits (physical, mental, social and emotional) of recreation
  • help clients learn new skills so they can pursue interests
  • help clients practise skills and maintain or improve their quality of life and overall health.

As members of a health care team (alongside doctors, nurses, nutritionists, psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and social workers), recreation therapists:

  • assess client skills, needs, interests and values related to recreation and leisure
  • develop action plans and programs
  • deliver programs one-on-one or for groups
  • keep records about client progress and share them with the health team
  • assess the success of plans and programs.
Working Conditions
Updated Oct 20, 2014
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg

Recreation therapists may work in health care settings, private homes, community facilities or outdoors. They may work wherever recreation or leisure pursuits take place. As a result, working conditions vary. Recreation therapists may work shifts that include evenings and weekends.

They may have to take part in activities that require above-average strength and stamina.

Traits & Skills
Updated Oct 20, 2014

Recreation therapists need to possess:

  • excellent people skills
  • excellent listening, speaking and writing skills
  • leadership skills
  • the ability to work with individuals, and small or large groups
  • creativity and resourcefulness
  • enthusiasm and a positive, flexible attitude
  • good judgment, initiative and accountability
  • the ability to work on their own and as part of a team.

They should enjoy:

  • working with people in a leadership role
  • developing and delivering creative programs
  • using specialized equipment and techniques.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Other professional occupations in therapy and assessment

NOC code: 3144

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 30 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Nov 03, 2021 and Jun 16, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Interview patients and review reports from health care professionals to determine patients' current and potential functioning levels
Record observations, write progress reports and consult with other health care professionals to evaluate treatment plans
Design specialized therapy programs to maintain, rehabilitate or enhance movement, musculoskeletal functioning and performance in sports, work and recreation
Prepare a treatment plan for each patient
Observe and analyze patients during treatment sessions
Initiate, design and implement specialized therapy programs
Implement treatment plans
Conduct research in the field of specialization
Area of Specialization: Recreational therapy
Personal Suitability: Effective interpersonal skills
Educational Requirements
Updated Oct 20, 2014
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary

The minimum education requirement is a degree or diploma in recreation with a specialization in therapeutic recreation. A 4-year degree is generally required for employment as a recreation therapist in public health facilities and programs. Graduates of a 2-year diploma program may be hired as recreation therapy assistants. Employers also may require applicants to have:

  • first aid and CPR certification
  • a clean Police Information Check with vulnerable sector check
  • training in group-based fitness instruction or therapy
  • specialized training regarding the client group (such as dementia, mental health, geriatrics)
  • a valid Class 4 or 5 driver’s licence.

Additional information about education related to recreation therapy is available from the Canadian Therapeutic Recreation Association website and the Therapeutic Recreation Directory.


Required Education

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


Related Education

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

Saskatchewan Polytechnic

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Oct 20, 2014
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Oct 20, 2014

Recreation therapists work in a variety of settings, such as:

  • 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 [pdf] industry.

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

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

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

In Alberta, the 3144: Other professional occupations in therapy and assessment occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.8% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 56 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Related Alberta Job Postings
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.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Other professional occupations in therapy and assessment

2016 NOC : 3144
Average Wage
$44.90
Per Hour
Average Salary
$69,602.00
Per Year
Average Hours
31.9
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 3144 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.68 $76.09 $37.84 $35.81
Overall $17.77 $87.82 $44.90 $42.63
Top $20.91 $101.29 $49.98 $47.67

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Health Care & Social Assistance
ALL INDUSTRIES

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
46%
46%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
2%
2%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
8%
8%
Vacancy Rate
2%
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: canadian-tr.org/resources/educational-institutions

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

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 22, 2018. 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.

Was this page useful?
Top