Recreational therapists are professionals who provide entertainment activities and treatments for patients who suffer from sicknesses or are disabled. Their goal is to help these people to feel emotionally healthy despite their difficult physical circumstances. A recreational therapist’s salary depends on a wide range of factors, including the type of facility in which he or she works as well as his or her region of residence. In addition, a person’s levels of education and experience in the field have an impact on his or her income.
A huge determining factor in a recreational therapist’s salary includes his or her place of work. For instance, hospitals tend to offer higher salaries to professionals in this industry, whether these facilities focus on surgery, psychiatric care, or general medical services. On the other hand, recreational therapists who work in community care and nursing care establishments for elderly patients usually are not paid as much. This is because hospital settings are larger and thus can see more patients and obtain greater amounts of revenue.
Healthcare professionals' geographic locations also play a role in their salaries. A recreational therapist’s salary likely is higher in metropolitan areas, which feature more residents and thus a higher demand for these healthcare services. Meanwhile, medical facilities in rural regions usually pay less to their recreational therapists because not as many people live in these areas and require this specialized type of therapy.
Education also affects a person’s income in the industry. Some recreational therapists complete two-year associate degree programs in this area of study. Although this is sufficient to be hired by some organizations, students who earn four-year bachelor’s degrees in recreational therapy can demand higher salaries. Four-year programs are the most common in this career field, but two-year master’s degree and four- to five-year doctoral degree opportunities also are available. A recreational therapist’s salary is higher if the individual has attended graduate school, as advanced degrees prepare him or her for supervisory or research roles that require more responsibility.
An individual’s level of experience additionally dictates how much money he or she receives in this aspect of the medical field. A person with less than a year of experience as a recreational therapist easily could get paid three times less than someone who has worked in the industry for more than 20 years. In addition, an employee can pursue voluntary certification through private industry associations, and attaining this type of credential could boost a recreational therapist's salary as well.