Kind Reader, if you are interested in helping people with disabilities or illnesses enjoy a better quality of life, then earning an associate degree in recreational therapy may be the right path for you. Recreational therapy is a form of healthcare that utilizes recreational activities to address the physical, emotional, and social needs of individuals who have disabilities, injuries, or illnesses. Pursuing an associate degree in recreational therapy can help you develop the knowledge and skills needed to work as a recreational therapist, helping individuals achieve their therapeutic goals while enjoying leisure activities.
What is an Associate Degree In Recreational Therapy?
An Associate Degree in Recreational Therapy is a two-year program designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to work as a recreational therapist. This program focuses on the therapeutic and recreational applications of leisure activities and how they can be used to improve the quality of life of individuals with disabilities, illnesses, and other limiting conditions. Students learn about the principles of psychology, anatomy, human development, and how to create, implement, and evaluate recreational programs for a variety of populations. They also gain hands-on experience through internships and practicums, where they work with real patients under the guidance of experienced recreational therapists.
Why Pursue an Associate Degree in Recreational Therapy?
There are several reasons why you might want to pursue an Associate Degree in Recreational Therapy:
- You have a passion for helping others and want to make a positive impact on people’s lives.
- You enjoy working in a collaborative, team-based environment and enjoy planning and organizing activities.
- You have a strong interest in psychology, anatomy, and the human body, and want to use this knowledge in a practical way to help individuals overcome physical and mental health issues.
- You are looking for a career that offers job stability, a good salary, and opportunities for growth and advancement.
What Are the Requirements for an Associate Degree in Recreational Therapy?
To apply for an Associate Degree in Recreational Therapy, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Some colleges and universities may also require you to have completed certain prerequisite courses in sciences, mathematics, and social sciences. You will also need to submit transcripts, test scores, and letters of recommendation as part of the application process. Once enrolled in the program, you will need to complete all required courses, which typically include a mix of general education courses (e.g., English, math, history) and courses specific to recreational therapy (e.g., therapeutic recreation, human anatomy and physiology, psychology of leisure).
What Can You Do with an Associate Degree in Recreational Therapy?
With an Associate Degree in Recreational Therapy, you can pursue a variety of careers, including:
- Recreational therapist
- Activity coordinator for senior centers or other care facilities
- Recreation program manager
- Community activities director
You can also choose to continue your education by pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Recreational Therapy or a related field. This can open up even more job opportunities and allow you to specialize in a specific area of recreational therapy, such as pediatric or geriatric care.
What is an Associate Degree in Recreational Therapy?
An associate degree in recreational therapy is a two-year degree that emphasizes the principles and techniques of recreation and leisure as a form of therapy for people with disabilities, illnesses, or injuries. Through a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on experience, students learn the knowledge and skills needed to design, implement, and evaluate recreation and leisure interventions that promote physical, cognitive, emotional, and social well-being.
Career Opportunities for Recreational Therapists with an Associate Degree
Graduates with an associate degree in recreational therapy can work as recreational therapy assistants, activity coordinators, program assistants, or recreation counselors in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, community centers, parks and recreation departments, schools, and camps. They can also continue their education by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy or a related field. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of recreational therapists is projected to grow 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations.
Skills and Competencies Developed in an Associate Degree Program
During their associate degree program, students develop various competencies that are essential for a career in recreational therapy. Below are some of the skills that an associate degree in recreational therapy can help develop:
|No||Skills and Competencies|
|1||Understanding the principles and philosophy of therapeutic recreation|
|2||Assessing clients’ leisure skills, needs, and interests|
|3||Developing treatment plans and intervention strategies|
|4||Adapting activities to clients’ abilities and goals|
|5||Evaluating clients’ progress and modifying interventions accordingly|
|6||Collaborating with interdisciplinary teams and stakeholders|
|7||Communicating effectively with clients, families, and colleagues|
|8||Managing time and resources efficiently|
|1||Associate degree title|
|2||Duration of the program|
|6||Average salary of recreational therapists with an associate degree|
Career Opportunities with an Associate Degree in Recreational Therapy
Those who have completed an Associate Degree in Recreational Therapy have a wide range of career opportunities to choose from. Graduates of this program can work in various settings, including rehabilitation centers, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, parks, and recreational centers. Here are some of the most common career paths for graduates of an Associate Degree in Recreational Therapy.
A recreational therapist is responsible for creating individualized treatment plans for patients or clients to help them improve their physical, cognitive, emotional, and social well-being. As a recreational therapist, graduates can work with individuals with disabilities, injuries, or chronic illnesses to help them develop and enhance their physical and mental abilities through a variety of recreational activities.
Recreational Program Coordinator
A recreational program coordinator is responsible for organizing and coordinating recreational activities or events for different individuals or groups. As a program coordinator, graduates can work in various settings, including parks, community centers, retirement homes, and hospitals. They are responsible for planning, organizing, and supervising recreational activities to ensure that all participants have a safe and enjoyable experience.
Adaptive Sports Coach
Graduates of an Associate Degree in Recreational Therapy can work as adaptive sports coaches who help people with disabilities participate in sports activities. Adaptive sports coaches assist the athlete in developing their skills, overcoming their limitations, and building their confidence. This allows individuals with disabilities to enjoy and engage in various types of sports activities.
Additional Career Opportunities
Other career opportunities for those who have completed an Associate Degree in Recreational Therapy include:
- Recreational Activity Director
- Camp Director
- Senior Activity Coordinator
- Wellness Program Coordinator
- Therapeutic Day Program Coordinator
It’s important to note that while obtaining an Associate Degree in Recreational Therapy is an excellent decision for students interested in a career with respect to sports, recreation and therapy, a professional with a bachelor’s or master’s degree is more preferred in many settings.
|No||Employment Setting||Salary Range|
|1||Hospital||$37,000 – $68,000|
|2||Nursing care facilities||$29,000 – $66,000|
|3||Government||$33,000 – $79,000|
|4||Home Health Care Services||$39,000 – $77,000|
|5||Assisted Living Facilities||$43,000 – $60,000|
Associate Degree in Recreational Therapy: Curriculum Overview
The course curriculum of associate degree in recreational therapy generally covers comprehensive practice and theory of recreational therapy. Students are trained to work with different demographic populations, including children, young adults, and seniors, alongside people with diverse physical, emotional, and developmental abilities.
The duration of the program is two years or four semesters. Associate degree in recreational therapy is divided into introductory, core, and advanced-level courses. Some of the introductory courses include English composition, mathematics, and natural sciences. The core courses comprise topics like anatomy and physiology, abnormal psychology, therapeutic recreation programming, geriatric therapeutic recreation, and principles of behavior modification. Students are also enrolled in clinical practicums that provide hands-on experience in therapeutic recreation services in clinical facilities.
Instructors generally use interactive and practical instructional strategies in associate degree in recreational therapy programs. Students can expect to participate in lectures, case studies, simulations, and hands-on activities to enhance their learning experiences. In addition, instructors use computer-based and web-based technologies to deliver lectures, communicate with students, and offer online course materials to ensure maximum flexibility.
Associate Degree in Recreational Therapy: Benefits
The rewards of working in the field of recreational therapy are not limited to personal satisfaction and fulfillment but also incude various benefits that come with the profession. Obtaining an associate degree in recreational therapy is beneficial for those wanting to work in the industry due to several reasons.
High Demand and Job Security
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the employment of recreational therapy professionals is projected to grow by 7% between 2019-2029, which is faster than average for all occupations. The demand for the profession is expected to increase as the population of baby boomers ages, and interest in specialized healthcare services grows. Additionally, those who complete their associate degree in recreational therapy can work in different settings, including rehabilitation facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and other wellness centers, which offers job security.
Good Salary and Benefits
The median hourly wage of recreational therapists in May 2020 was $21.66, with the lowest 10% earning less than $11.14 per hour, and the highest 10% earning more than $39.13 per hour, according to the BLS. Those with an associate degree in recreational therapy can expect to start with good salaries and great employee benefits like health and retirement plans, vacation and sick leaves, and bonuses.
Job Opportunities for Associate Degree in Recreational Therapy Graduates
Graduates of an associate degree in recreational therapy program can work in different healthcare settings. They can provide assistance to patients with disabilities, injuries, or chronic illnesses in nursing homes, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and mental health institutions. They can also work in community centers, parks, and recreation departments. Here are some of the career paths that graduates of an associate degree in recreational therapy can pursue:
1. Recreational Therapy Assistant
Recreational therapy assistants work under the supervision of certified recreational therapists. They assist in planning, implementing, and evaluating recreational therapy programs for patients with various health issues. They ensure that the activities are fun, engaging, and safe for patients. They also maintain the equipment and supplies used in the therapy programs.
2. Activities Assistant
Activities assistants work in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other healthcare settings. They plan and implement recreational activities for residents or patients, such as games, crafts, music, and outings. They also organize events and celebrate birthdays and holidays for the residents or patients.
3. Community Recreation Worker
Community recreation workers organize and lead recreational activities for groups of people in community centers, parks, and recreation departments. They plan events, classes, and trips that cater to different interests and age groups. They also promote the activities and recruit participants.
4. Behavioral Health Technician
Behavioral health technicians work in mental health and substance abuse facilities. They assist in providing therapeutic activities and interventions for patients with mental health or addiction issues. They also monitor patients’ behavior and report any changes or concerns to the healthcare team.
5. Rehabilitation Aide
Rehabilitation aides work in rehabilitation centers and assist patients with exercises and activities designed to improve their mobility, strength, and coordination. They also educate patients on how to use assistive devices and perform daily living activities. They may also assist in clerical tasks and other non-clinical duties.
6. Youth Program Coordinator
Youth program coordinators plan and oversee recreational and educational activities for children and teenagers in community centers, schools, and non-profit organizations. They design programs that promote learning, socialization, and personal development. They also recruit and train staff and volunteers.
7. Adaptive Recreation Specialist
Adaptive recreation specialists plan and lead recreational activities for individuals with disabilities. They modify the activities to fit the needs and capabilities of the participants and provide assistance and accommodations as necessary. They also educate the participants and their families on the benefits of recreational therapy.
Advantages of Pursuing an Associate Degree in Recreational Therapy
If you are passionate about helping others to improve their mental and physical health, and have a love for recreational activities, then pursuing an associate degree in recreational therapy can be the right choice for you. Here are some of the benefits of pursuing this degree:
1. High Demand for Professionals in Recreational Therapy
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a growth rate of 7% in recreational therapy jobs by 2029. This number is higher than the average growth rate of other occupations. Moreover, the demand for recreational therapists is expected to keep growing due to the aging population who require therapeutic assistance.
2. Competitive Salary
According to the BLS, the median annual wage for recreational therapists was $49,730, as of May 2020. However, this can vary according to the location of the job, experience, and employer.
3. Opportunities to Work in Diverse Settings
After completing your associate degree in recreational therapy, you can find opportunities to work in various settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, schools, correctional facilities, and community-based programs.
4. Chance to Make a Difference in People’s Lives
As a recreational therapist, you get the chance to impact people’s daily lives positively. Through fun and engaging activities, you can help improve their mental and physical well-being, assist them in building social connections and personal skills, and promote their overall quality of life.
5. Opportunity to Pursue Higher Education
By earning an associate degree in recreational therapy, you can gain a solid foundation to pursue further education in this or related fields. With a bachelor’s or a master’s degree, you can expand your career opportunities and earn a higher salary.
6. Job Satisfaction and Fulfilling Career
As mentioned earlier, in a career in recreational therapy, you can make a difference in people’s lives. This chance to positively impact other people’s lives can provide you immense job satisfaction, making your career fulfilling.
7. Combination of Science and Creativity
Recreational therapy is a field that blends science with creativity to design and plan activities that help improve the mental and physical health of individuals. Therefore, this career can offer you a perfect balance of using your analytical and creative thinking skills.
Online Associate Degree in Recreational Therapy
An associate degree in recreational therapy can be attained through an online program, which allows students to complete coursework from their own home. This can be an excellent option for students who have other commitments and cannot attend traditional on-campus classes.
Benefits of Online Associate Degree
Going for an online associate degree in Recreational Therapy comes with its advantages. Students can take online classes in their own time and from the comfort of their own homes. With no need to visit the campus, students don’t have to worry about travel costs and can save money on other expenses like accommodation. They can easily balance their studies with other commitments like work or family since coursework can be completed at any time of the day or night. Online study also allows students the opportunity to be part of a wider, diverse, student community.
Accreditation for Online Associate Degree in Recreational Therapy
Accreditation is necessary for any recreational therapy program, including online programs. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accreditation Council for Recreation Therapy Education (ACRTE) are responsible for accrediting recreational therapy programs. Students need to check that the program they are interested in has the necessary accreditation before proceeding.
Associate Degree in Recreational Therapy: FAQ
1. What is an Associate Degree in Recreational Therapy?
An Associate Degree in Recreational Therapy is a two-year program where students are trained to provide therapeutic and leisure activities for individuals with disabilities, illnesses, and injuries.
2. What are some common job opportunities after completing this degree?
Graduates can work in rehabilitation centers, hospitals, nursing homes, mental health facilities, and schools as recreational therapists, activities coordinators, or therapeutic recreation aides.
3. Do I need any prior experience in the field before enrolling in this program?
No, prior experience is not required, but having an interest in helping people with disabilities or injuries is recommended.
4. What type of courses will I take in this program?
Students will take courses in therapeutic recreation, anatomy, psychology, human growth and development, and communication skills.
5. Can I transfer credits from another school into this program?
It depends on the school’s transfer credit policy, but most schools accept transfer credits from other accredited institutions.
6. Is this degree program available online?
Yes, many schools offer online associate degree programs in recreational therapy.
7. Do I need to be licensed to work as a recreational therapist?
Yes, you need to be licensed in most states to work as a recreational therapist. The licensing requirements vary by state, so make sure to check the requirements in your state before applying to the program.
8. What skills and qualities do I need to have to be successful in this program?
Students should have strong communication, interpersonal, and problem-solving skills, as well as a compassionate and patient personality.
9. What is the job outlook for recreational therapists?
The job outlook for recreational therapists is positive, with a projected growth rate of 7% from 2019 to 2029.
10. Can I work part-time while completing this program?
Yes, you can work part-time while completing this program, but it is recommended to balance your workload to avoid burnout.
11. How much does an associate degree in recreational therapy cost?
The cost of the program varies depending on the school and location. It is recommended to research the cost of different programs before making a decision.
12. Are there any scholarships available for this program?
Yes, there are scholarships available for students pursuing a degree in recreational therapy. It is recommended to research and apply for scholarships early in the application process.
13. Can I work as a recreational therapist with just an associate degree, or do I need to pursue a higher degree?
An associate degree in recreational therapy is enough to work in entry-level positions, but pursuing a higher degree, such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree, can lead to higher-paying and more advanced positions.
14. What is the difference between an associate degree in recreational therapy and a bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy?
A bachelor’s degree program is a four-year program that provides in-depth training in recreational therapy, while an associate degree program is a two-year program that focuses on basic knowledge and skills in the field.
15. Can I transfer from an associate degree program to a bachelor’s degree program in recreational therapy?
Yes, many schools offer transfer options for students who have completed an associate degree in recreational therapy and want to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
16. What are some challenges I may face in this program?
Some challenges that students may face in this program include managing time and workload, dealing with difficult patients, and keeping up with the fast-paced curriculum.
17. What is the average salary for a recreational therapist?
The average salary for recreational therapists is $48,220 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
18. What type of degree do I need to become a certified therapeutic recreation specialist?
You need at least a bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy or a related field to become a certified therapeutic recreation specialist.
19. Can I take the certification exam before completing the associate degree program?
No, you cannot take the certification exam before completing the necessary education and training requirements.
20. What is the certification exam for recreational therapists?
The certification exam for recreational therapists is the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) exam.
21. How long does it take to complete the certification process?
The certification process typically takes several months to complete and includes education and training requirements, passing the certification exam, and submitting an application.
22. What are some ways to gain experience in the field while completing the program?
Students can gain experience in the field by volunteering at rehabilitation centers, shadowing a recreational therapist, or working part-time at a healthcare facility.
23. What resources are available to students in this program?
Students have access to academic advisors, career services, library and research resources, and student organizations related to recreational therapy.
24. How does this program prepare me for a career in recreational therapy?
This program provides students with the necessary knowledge and skills to work as a recreational therapist, including therapeutic recreation techniques, basic medical knowledge, and effective communication skills.
25. How do I know if this program is right for me?
You can research the curriculum, job opportunities, and certification requirements to determine if a degree in recreational therapy is right for you. It is also recommended to talk to current students and professionals in the field to gain a better understanding of the program and the profession.
To learn more about pursuing a career as a recreational therapist, consider earning an associate degree in recreational therapy. This
Thank you and enjoy your day!
Kind Reader, thank you for taking the time to read about the wonderful opportunities that come with an associate degree in recreational therapy. As you can see, this is a career path that offers a chance to make a positive impact in the lives of others while also enjoying fulfilling work. We hope that this article has been helpful and informative for you. Please visit us again for more interesting topics and updates. Have a wonderful day!