Recreational therapy is sometimes referred to as therapeutic recreation or diversion therapy. A recreational therapist uses activity-based treatment to assess and treat patients with illnesses, disabilities or injuries to improve their overall well-being, increase independence and reduce obstacles preventing participation in daily activities. The median annual recreational therapist salary in the US is $37,389, an amount that after conversion to the US dollar lags behind the average salary in Australia of AU$63,500 or $46,922 USD.
Salaries in South Africa and India trail behind other countries at R209,306 ($14,834 USD) and Rs389,999 ($5,685 USD), respectively. The salary ranges for recreational therapists vary worldwide with further details provided in this guide.
How Much Does a Recreational Therapist Make Per Year?
Salaries for recreational therapists vary worldwide as illustrated in the chart below.
|Salaries for Recreational Therapists||US||Canada||UK||Australia||New Zealand||India||South Africa|
|Median Annual Wage||$37,389||C$39,305
Factors That Influence Recreational Therapists’ Salary
Geographic region, professional experience and work setting are factors that influence income levels for recreational therapists The following paragraphs provide additional salary and career information in select countries.
1. Geographic Area
Recreational Therapist Salary in US
Recreational therapists in the US earn between $28,000 and $50,000 per year. There is potential to boost earnings with an additional $5,250 in bonus potential. Income levels peak in late-career as those with 20 years’ or more experience typically receive the highest pay.
Recreational therapist Salary in Canada
In Canada, the median annual salary for recreational therapists is about C$39,305. Entry level professionals can expect to earn about C$30,200 per year, increasing to just under C$62,000 with experience. While Payscale.com reports the median hourly wage is $20, current job postings on Indeed.com for part-time recreation therapists indicate hourly wages from $28 to $38. The higher pay may be due to regions of Canada where incomes are elevated overall.
Recreational Therapist Salary in UK
Limited information is available on salaries for recreational therapists in UK; however, there is overlap in the type of treatment provided by occupational therapists, making it an appropriate career for salary comparison. Occupational therapists earn between £20,751 and £34,281 per year. There is opportunity for an additional £3,500 in bonus pay. Incomes peak during mid-career as those with 10 to 20 years’ experience earn the highest wages.
Recreational Therapist Salary in Australia
In Australia, recreation therapists are also called diversional therapists. According to open.edu.au, entry level recreational therapists have a starting salary of about AU$52,000 per year. Incomes increase with experience as senior level therapists earn about AU$78,000 annually. Most recreational therapists work in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
Recreational Therapist Salary in New Zealand
Recreational therapists, or diversional therapists, in New Zealand earn between NZ$28,000 and NZ$35,000 per year, according to careers.govt.nz. While wages vary by employer, experience also plays an important role in earning potential. Those with work-related experience, but no advanced education or specific training may earn about NZ$15 per hour compared to therapists with a National Certificate in Diversional Therapy who earn about NZ$18 an hour. Some choose to continue their education and training to become licensed occupational therapists and earn a higher salary.
Recreational Therapist Salary in India
With limited salary information on recreational therapists in India, data on occupational therapists offers a suitable guideline. According to Payscale.com, occupational therapists earn a median annual salary of Rs389,999. Entry level therapists can expect a starting salary just under Rs178,000 while those with experience may earn more than Rs625,000 per year. Incomes peak during mid-career for those with 10 to 20 years’ experience.
Recreational Therapist Salary in South Africa
Recreational therapist income information for careers in South Africa is limited; however, Payscale provides a salary guideline using occupational therapists as reference. Occupational therapists in South Africa earn between R119,000 and R376,000 per year. Bonuses ranging from R2,027 to R29,590 can further increase overall pay. With five to 10 years’ experience, salary levels increase significantly, but additional work experience has little impact on higher salary ranges.
While an undergraduate degree in recreational therapy, physical education or similar coursework is typical, some employers require only two to three years of related experience. To become a registered diversional therapist in New Zealand, a Level 4 National Certificate in Diversional Therapy is needed, and in the US, recreational therapists must be certified.
Some positions in Australia require National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC). With varying regulations worldwide, it is the individual’s responsibility to fully understand the requirements in the country of intended employment.
Professional experience can influence salary ranges. For example, the greatest difference between entry level and experienced therapists is in India where pay can increase 250% in one’s career. Experience has a similar effect in South Africa where salaries increase about 216% with experience. Salaries in the US, UK and New Zealand are not as heavily influenced by work experience while income in Canada more than doubles from entry level to experienced positions.
Recreational therapists work in a variety of settings including hospitals, clinics, rest homes and schools. While it is a female dominated career field, a larger percentage of therapists in India are male. Despite lower income levels for this healthcare career, those who work in this field indicate a high level of job satisfaction that likely comes from helping others live a more active life.
Most therapists work full-time during typical work hours; however, some evening and weekend hours may be required, especially for those employed in hospitals. Some employers offer part-time opportunities.
Bonuses and Benefit Packages
Medical, dental and vision insurance are often offered; however, a notable percentage of therapists worldwide report no provision of health benefits. In fact, 85% in UK, 75% in South Africa and 59% in South Africa report they do not receive health benefits. Bonus potential is relatively common in most countries, regardless of work setting in the private or public sector.
Future job growth is expected to remain strong. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a growth rate of 12% for recreational therapists between 2014 and 2024. This percentage represents a rate that is faster than the average overall rate for all professions.
Careers in diversional therapy in New Zealand have been increasing, and according to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the aging population should to increase demand for employees in this field. In fact, every rest home or hospital needs a minimum of one part-time diversional therapist, and by 2026, 20% of the country’s population will be age 65 or older compared to 12% in 2006, illustrating the reason for expected growth.
Recreational therapists earn a lower income compared to some other healthcare positions; however, those working in the field enjoy their work and report high job satisfaction. Educational and certification requirements for a career in recreational therapy vary worldwide. Future job growth is expected to increase, resulting in additional demand that will likely support salary ranges.