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Jobs Outlook: Recreational Therapists




Overall employment of recreational therapists is expected to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations through the year 2014. In nursing care facilities—the largest industry employing recreational therapists—employment will grow slightly faster than the occupation as a whole as the number of older adults continues to grow. Employment is expected to decline, however, in hospitals as services shift to outpatient settings and employers emphasize cost containment. Fast employment growth is expected in the residential and outpatient settings that serve disabled persons, the elderly, or those diagnosed with mental retardation, mental illness, or substance abuse problems. Among these settings are community care facilities for the elderly (including assisted-living facilities); residential mental retardation, mental health, and substance abuse facilities; and facilities that provide individual and family services (such as day care centers for disabled persons and the elderly). Opportunities should be best for persons with a bachelorís degree in therapeutic recreation or in recreation with an option in therapeutic recreation. Opportunities also should be good for therapists who hold specialized certifications, for example, in, aquatic therapy, meditation, or crisis intervention.

Health care facilities will support a growing number of jobs in adult day care and outpatient programs offering short-term mental health and alcohol or drug abuse services. Rehabilitation, home health care, and transitional programs will provide additional jobs.

The rapidly growing number of older adults is expected to spur job growth for recreational therapy professionals and paraprofessionals in assisted-living facilities, adult day care programs, and other social assistance agencies. Continued growth also is expected in community residential care facilities, as well as in day care programs for individuals with disabilities.