California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Recreational Therapists in California

May also be called: Activity Coordinators; Activity Directors; Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists; Recreation Therapists; Rehabilitation Therapists; Therapeutic Recreation Specialists

What Would I Do?

Recreational Therapists provide treatment services and recreation activities to individuals with disabilities or illnesses. Therapists treat and maintain the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of clients using a variety of techniques, such as music, arts and crafts, animals, sports, games, dance and movement, drama, social activities, and community outings.

Recreational Therapists provide services in special activity rooms but also plan activities and prepare documentation in offices. They work in psychiatric or general hospitals, nursing homes, schools, correctional facilities, or other institutions. Recreational Therapists generally work a 40-hour week that may include some evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Recreational Therapist may appeal to those who enjoy communicating with and assisting others, especially those with illnesses or disabilities.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

The median wage in 2020 for Recreational Therapists in California was $83,524 annually, or $40.15 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

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Annual Wages for 2020Low
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Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2020 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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Benefits generally include medical, dental, life, and vision insurance as well as vacation, sick leave, and retirement plans. Recreational Therapists who are self-employed must provide their own benefits and retirement.

What is the Job Outlook?

Continued growth in the number of older adults is expected to increase the need for Recreational Therapists.

How Do I Qualify?

A bachelor's degree in therapeutic recreation or in recreation with a concentration in therapeutic recreation is the usual requirement for entry-level recreational therapy positions.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Students can also find employment opportunities through placement offices at colleges and universities. Those working within the industry may recommend an interested candidate for jobs. Newspaper classified ads and the Internet provide additional sources for job listings. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Learn More About Recreational Therapists