Recreational Therapist Certification and Licensing

Recreational therapy is currently licensed in just a few states. If you live in North Carolina, Utah, Oklahoma, or New Hampshire, you will need to apply for licensure. Other states have proposed legislature that could affect recreational therapists.

Become a Recreational Therapist

Recreational Therapy Resources…

In most states, credentialing is handled at the employer level. In many cases, applicants are expected to possess voluntary certification through the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification. In order to sit for the NCTRC exam, you must meet prerequisites. There are several paths. The academic path requires you to take a program in therapeutic recreation (or in recreation with an option/ emphasis in therapeutic recreation); the program must be at the baccalaureate level or higher. Academic programs include a 12 week (480 hour) internship. The equivalency paths also require you to hold a degree, but the degree can be in another field; work experience is required if you go this route. Equivalency Path A and Equivalency Path B both mandate 18 semester hours of therapeutic recreation coursework; they differ in requirements for supporting coursework and work experience.

An exam is required for certification. Exams are given in January, May, and October. There is a base test with 90 questions; some candidates are required to take additional testlets. A content outline and sample questions can be found on the NCTRC site. The test assesses competency in four general areas: foundational knowledge, therapy practice, organization of services, and advancement of the recreational therapy profession. The practice section includes assessment, documentation and implementation, as well as general strategies and guidelines.

It is necessary to complete the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist maintenance form every year. Certified recreation therapists must also recertify every five years. During each recertification cycle, therapists must earn 50 units of continuing education. Classes can take many forms, including teleconferences and online sessions. They do not have to be traditional CEUs, but they must pertain to the job analysis items.