Income and benefits
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for recreational therapists was $48,220 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,880, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $77,970.
The top paying industry was the government, where the median annual salary was $60,140. This is followed by hospitals, where the median annual salary was $50,840. Next was ambulatory healthcare services ($48,040), nursing care facilities ($42,110) and social assistance ($42,000).
Autonomy and Flexibility
Recreational therapists have a lot of control over the sessions they plan, and how they plan them. However, recreational therapists must ensure that their clients remain in control of their decisions and have the final say – client autonomy and control is a key part of best practice for recreational therapists. Many recreational therapists will work in the community and will be travelling from client to client. Therefore, they will have little flexibility over how they plan their day.
Locations and commute
According to Zippia, the best states to be a recreation therapist, based on salary and total number of jobs, were:
- Nevada, where the average annual salary is $72,100
- Utah, where the average annual salary is $60,090
- Louisiana, where the average annual salary is $61,897
- California, where the average annual salary is $77,188
- Texas, where the average annual salary is $54,376
The worst states for recreation therapists were Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Iowa and Illinois.
38% of recreational therapists in the United States worked for hospitals (state local and private). 17% were employed by the government, 13% by nursing care facilities, 9% by ambulatory healthcare services and 7% by social assistance.
Recreation therapists will tend to have an office which is their ‘base’. They will use this space for planning and other administrative duties. They will then normal travel to meet patients, either in a clinical setting or in the community. Recreational therapists may spend a lot of time on their feet and may need to physically assist patients or lift heavy objects such as wheelchairs.