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Recreational Therapy Certificate and Licensure

Required Certification or Licensure: It is surprising to most individuals pursuing education in the recreational therapy field to learn that not every state requires recreational therapists to be licensed by the state medical board. In fact, most states do not require licensure to obtain a job in the field. Currently, only Oklahoma, North Carolina, Utah, and New Hampshire require recreational therapists to hold a license. This can be frustrating for individuals who reside within these states, but they should be grateful for the extra education and credibility that being licensed or having worked in a license required state will afford them.

Additionally, no states require recreational therapists to be certified. Most jobs, however, will not hire individuals who have not been fully certified by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation. Certifications show prospective employers that individuals are very knowledgeable in the field of recreational therapy and that they have taken time to make use of their bachelor’s degree in the subject. Also, students who know which fields or areas they intend to work in will be able to get specialized certifications, making it much easier to land jobs in more competitive areas.

Qualifying Exams:

When one is completing a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree at a college or university, the college will conduct its own exams. These exams will be used to determine if one may pass a particular course or not, though there is no one final examination to determine if the individual will graduate.

A passing score on an examination is required, however, for certification. Most states require students to pass a written exam and to complete approximately 500 hours of a supervised internship or experiential learning course. Exams for specializations in the certification may also be required.

Individuals, no matter their level of education, should take the time to adequately prepare for these exams. They are very comprehensive and cover almost every subject that the individual has learned in the past four years of his or her life. For this reason, studying and brushing up on courses an individual took years before is key for passing the examination and becoming certified.

Many individuals do not pass the exam the first time around. While this can be embarrassing or discouraging, those individuals who do not pass the examination on the first try will take solace in knowing that they can repeat the examination after a certain time period has passed. Those individuals should use this window of time to attend study or tutoring sessions for the exam. Additionally, score reports that detail where the student did not do well will be made available, and students should take special care to study these areas again. It can be a long road to becoming a certified recreational therapist, but the job opportunities and possibilities it affords one will be well worth all the hassle in the end.