American Therapeutic Recreation Association



Therapeutic recreation specialists work with a variety of client groups such as individuals with autism, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, mental health issues, and individuals who are aging. Facilities include community RT/TR programs, correctional facilities, behavioral health agencies, physical medicine and rehabilitation hospitals or units, long term care facilities, and many others.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012, there were approximately 19,800 jobs across the nation. "Employment of recreation therapists is projected to grow 13 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. As the large baby-boom generation ages, they will need recreation therapists to help treat age-related injuries and illnesses, such as strokes.  Recreation therapists will also be needed to help patients manage chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity" (Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-2015 Edition).

The median annual wage for therapeutic recreation specialists was $42,280 (or $20.33 per hour) in 2012. It was estimated that 2,700 positions will be added form 2012-2022 (Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-2015 Edition).

The field currently requires a bachelor’s degree and nearly all positions require certification by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) [see for more details concerning the certification program]. There are approximately 86 degree programs in the United States.

Why Join ATRA? 

Students can join ATRA online or print out an application to mail with a check or money order.

There are several benefits for students who join ATRA. 

  • Reduced membership rates – students may join as a full member of ATRA for $65 per year while in school
  • Reduced membership the first year after graduation as a Provisional Professional member
  • Reduced conference rates – registration rates are often half-priced for students to attend conferences
  • Reduced rates on merchandise and books through the ATRA bookstore
  • Opportunities to professional network through the Facebook page, listserv, conferences, workshops, etc.
  • Free access to the Annual in Therapeutic Recreation ATRA’s research journal
  • Eligibility for working scholarships at the annual fall conference
  • Advocacy by the Student Development Committee on students’ behalf
  • Knowledge and networking through the Treatment Networks, such as Behavioral Health, Pediatrics and Geriatrics
  • Opportunity to join any ATRA committee or task force
  • Listing of potential internship opportunities
  • Listing of potential job opportunities
  • Connect with other students, CTRSs, and the profession

We hope you will join thousands of therapeutic recreation specialists and supporters across the country by becoming a member! 

For more information contact the national office at or contact, Chair(s), Student Development Committee.