Since its release in 1927, avid job seekers have used the Strong Interest Inventory® and its associated assessment to help them find careers that will likely be an ideal fit for them. First, they complete a survey assessment that compares their interests to a sample of satisfied individuals who work in various fields and have for numerous years. Based on an analysis of their responses, individuals are guided to their top categories of careers, each of which is characterized by certain shared features. For example, Social careers, including Recreational Therapists, involve caring for and supporting other people, especially through challenging experiences. People who are drawn to social careers are generally comfortable speaking to large groups and genuinely enjoy working with others.
Recreational Therapists, sometimes called Activities Directors, are responsible for planning, directing and coordinating recreation programs for patients in a number of institutions, including hospitals and nursing homes. These programs must be medically approved, but can range from games (e.g., Bingo, Yahtzee), to outings (e.g., sports games, museums, theaters, movies), to social activities (e.g., dances, meet-and-greets), as well as arts and crafts (e.g., painting, knitting, playing music).
The purpose of these events varies. Sometimes, the purpose is simply to have fun and improve patients’ mental or physical well-being. However, if the purpose is rehabilitation from an accident or to prevent further medical problems, then more careful planning is needed.
Regardless of the purpose of the activities, Recreational Therapists must ensure that the activities are appropriate for their attendees. They may need to obtain information and/or medical records from medical staff, family members or the patients themselves. To this end, they may ask patients or their families to complete a short questionnaire, survey, or interview. During the activities themselves, they observe patients’ participation and reactions—Were they able to keep up with other participants? Did they seem to enjoy themselves while doing so? If not, it may not be appropriate for that participant to continue. That said, in some cases encouraging participants may be appropriate to facilitate their mental or physical stimulation. Throughout patients’ recovery process, Recreational Therapists may be involved in developing treatment plans, preparing charts to track progress, and otherwise documenting patients’ activities. When they are ready to be discharged, Recreational Therapists may create discharge plans and/or communicate those instructions to the patient as well as any caretakers.
The technological needs of Recreational Therapists are typically limited to standard office software (e.g., Microsoft Office Suite, email, and web browser software), though depending on their workplace they may also need to use basic medical software. However, their tools can vary widely, as different tools may be used for the various activities that patients participate in. These may include sports equipment (e.g., archery bows, baseballs, basketballs, bicycles, canoes, bowling equipment, croquet sets), as well as equipment for various hobbies (e.g., cameras for photography, knives and drills for woodcarving, tables and paddles for table tennis, needles and yarn for knitting or crocheting, etc.). Some Recreational Therapists may also use therapy equipment (e.g., rehabilitation treadmills, wheelchairs, patient lifts, etc.).
Recreational Therapists need to have a strong foundation in Psychology as well as strong therapy and customer service skills. A service orientation is also essential; that is, the tendency to actively anticipate others’ needs and look for ways to help them. The vast majority of Recreational Therapists (88%) hold a bachelor’s degree, while 8% hold a master’s degree. The remainder have completed some college, though they may not have earned a degree.
Recreational Therapists’ employment is quickly rising nationwide, with a projected growth rate of 7-10% in the next decade. New York, California and Pennsylvania alone are expected to add hundreds of jobs per year, and some 1,100 jobs are expected to be created across the country each year for the next ten years. The median Recreational Therapist Salary is $47,860, though in California the median salary is nearly $80,000 and the best-paid Recreational Therapists can earn nearly 100,000 per year. That said, on the other end of the spectrum, the lowest-paid Recreational Therapists in states like Mississippi and Kansas earn under $26,000 per year and as little as $22,000.
Below are some employment trends for Recreational Therapists:
- Recreational Therapist Salary: $23.01 hourly, $47,860 annual
- Employment: 20,000 employees
- Projected growth (2018-2028): Faster than average (7-10%)
- Projected job openings (2018-2028): 1,100
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Explore our Strong Interest Inventory® Blog Pages:
- Strong Interest Inventory Realistic Theme Explained
- Strong Interest Inventory Artistic Theme Explained
- Strong Interest Inventory Investigative Theme Explained
- Strong Interest Inventory Social Theme Explained
- Strong Interest Inventory Enterprising Theme Explained
- Strong Interest Inventory Conventional Theme Explained
- Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data and 2018-2028 employment projections Onetonline.org