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What are the academic requirements to become a Recreational Therapist (CTRS)?

1.Earn a Bachelor or higher degree with a specialization/concentration/major/minor in Therapeutic Recreation or Recreation Therapy  from an accredited college or university that includes the following coursework:

  • 1 course (3 hours) in Recreation
  • 6 courses (18 hours) in RT/TR
  • 1 course (3 hours) in Anatomy & Physiology (or a course in Anatomy + a course in physiology)
  • 1 course (3 hours) in Human Growth & Development Across the Lifespan
  • 1 course (3 hours) in Abnormal Psychology

2. Complete a 560 hour & 14 consecutive week academic internship under the supervision of a CTRS at the internship site and at the academic institution. The site supervisor must have the CTRS credential for a minimum of 1 year before supervising interns.

3. Pass the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) exam from NCTRC.

Looking for a Recreation Therapy academic program?
Aurora University– BS
Chicago State University– BS
Eastern Illinois University– BS
Illinois State University– BS
Moraine Valley Community College– AAS
Southern Illinois University– BS & MS, Facebook
University of St. Francis– BS & Certificate
Western Illinois University– BS
ATRA’s list of academic programs

What accreditations are available for RT/TR academic programs?

Bachelor level RT programs can be but are not required to be accredited by the following organizations:
Committee on Accreditation of Recreational Therapy Education (CARTE)
Council on Accreditation Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions (COAPRT)

Graduate level RT degrees are not accredited at the program level.
Graduating from an accredited program is not required to become qualified to sit for the CTRS exam.
Graduating for an accredited university is required to sit for the CTRS exam.

Interested in a career as RT/TR faculty?

The minimum requirements for an Non-Tenure Track position in TR/RT at most universities:
Work experience as an RT (often 2 years)
Teaching experience at the college level. Teaching experience as a teaching assistant (TA) is often acceptable.
Graduate degree in recreation/recreation therapy

*NTT positions are paid per course taught. Salary will vary based on course load per semester with full time=4 courses per semester (Fall-spring). Summer semester may leave faculty unpaid if there are no available courses to teach.

*NTT positions are:
Instructor & Lecturer (masters degree)
Professor of Practice (doctorate or PhD).

*Average pay for a full time NTT (8 courses/9mo academic year) is $25,000-40,000/yr depending on the university and NTT position.

The minimum requirements for a Tenure-Track position at most universities:
Work experience as an RT (often 2 years)
Teaching experience at the college level as the instructor of record
Research, publications, conference presentations or posters
A PhD or doctorate in recreation/recreation therapy or a related field (public health, health sciences, rehab, social work, education, etc.)

*TT faculty are assigned a course load for the 9mo academic year. They teach fewer courses, with a common amount being 2-3 courses per semester, but are expected to conduct research and publish articles.

*TT faculty have a 5 year time period to earn tenure. Tenure is earned by meeting the teaching, research, and service requirements adopted by the department the TT works in. If tenure is not earned, the TT faculty is dropped to NTT status if a position is available. If a NTT position is not available, the faculty member is unemployed.

*TT Positions are:
Assistant Professor (tenure track)
Associate Professor & Professor (tenured)

*Average pay for an assistant professor is $50,000-75,000/yr depending on the university.

Where do you look for academic jobs?
Chronical of Higher Ed Jobs
Higher Ed Jobs