Recreation Therapist Certification (CTRS) |EHS| SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Education and Human Services

Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS®)

In addition to earning a Bachelor of Science, graduates also have the opportunity to become a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS®) a nationally recognized certification for therapeutic recreation professionals from the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification. Please visit for more information.

Curriculum Requirement

A minimum of five (5) therapeutic recreation core courses (15 hrs.)
A minimum of one (1) recreation course (3 hrs.)
Three Supportive Courses:

  • PH 311 Human Development
  • PSYC 334 Abnormal Psychology
  • AH 241 Anatomy and Physiology

Internship (a minimum of 560 hours)
The internship, a more formal relationship, is a semester-long, full-time experience, often with a salary or stipend; students are chosen on their merits. Our students have completed internships with Chicago Rehabilitation Institute, Veterans Administration hospitals, Illinois Children's Research Hospital, among others. Our students gain first-hand experience by doing field work under the supervision of trained recreation professionals who may assist in future job searches.

The need for Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS®)

For decades, recreation therapy has been recognized as a valuable profession within health care and human services. Today the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS®)exemplifies the profession's dedication to quality standards and professional excellence. There are nearly 30,000 recreation therapists in the United States, with over 16,000 professionally certified by NCTRC.

As demand for recreation therapy increases from acute care hospitals to community living settings, the certification of increasing numbers of recreation therapists is expected to rise and provide the recognition of the important role that CTRSs play in today's health care arena.

Why Choose Certification

The employment of a CTRS enhances the health care consumer's receipt of professionally delivered recreation therapy. The CTRS is well trained to significantly contribute to the therapeutic delivery system. It is well documented that CTRSs increase both the effectiveness and efficiency of routine care in comparison to noncertified individuals.

In health care settings where professional credentials and training are the benchmarks of quality, the CTRS is recognized as the highest level of certification within recreation therapy, providing value-added services that include:

  • Recognition as a rehabilitative service covered by governmental regulatory agencies and third party payers
  • Extensive knowledge and skill-based training to enhance quality of care
  • Organized and team-oriented approach to care delivery
  • Multi-functional and diversified skill base to reach a wider spectrum of consumers
  • Training in group-oriented processes to enhance cost effectiveness and efficiencies in service delivery
  • Ability to handle greater professional responsibilities and authority

What Clients Do Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS®) Serve and Where Can You Find Them?  

Recreational Therapists work with a wide range of individuals requiring health services including:  

  • Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Centers
  • Mental  Health Facilities and Psychiatric Centers
  • Hospitals and General Medicine
  • Geriatric (e.g., Long-Term care or Skilled Nursing Facilities)
  • Parks and Recreation Districts and Special Recreation
  • Community Centers and School Systems
  • Camp and Wilderness Settings
  • Substance Abuse and Addition Treatment Facilities
  • Correctional Settings
  • and many other human service agencies....

There is a growing trend for recreational therapists to work in private practice providing services in the home and community as well.

10 Best College Majors for a Lucrative Career

Recreation therapy has been recognized as one of the best college major for a lucrative career by Kiplinger Finance Magazine (2012).  Kiplinger Finance Magazine, August 2012,

Miscellaneous Information about Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS®)

  • Low Unemployment rate: 2.6%
  • Low Unemployment rate for recent grads: 5.4%
  • Job satisfaction rate: 90%
  • Projected job growth for this field, 2010–2020: 33%
  • Recreational Therapy Director’s median salary: $88,689