Employment of recreational therapists is expected to grow by 17 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
As the large baby-boom generation ages, they will need recreational therapists to help treat age-related injuries and illnesses, such as strokes. As people age, their declines in general physical ability, and sometimes mental ability, may also be treated with recreational therapy.
Legislation requiring federally-funded services for disabled students will continue to shape the need for recreational therapists in education settings.
Additionally, third party payers will continue to use therapists’ services as a way to cut costs in patients’ recoveries from injuries or illnesses, moving treatment to outpatient settings rather than more costly hospital settings.
Job prospects will be best for recreational therapists with both a bachelor’s degree and certification. Therapists who specialize in working with the elderly or who earn certification in geriatric therapy may have the best job prospects. Nursing and residential care facilities employ almost a third of recreational therapists. As the percentage of older adults continues to grow, employment in nursing and residential care facilities industry will grow as a whole, increasing the need for these workers.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition