Recreational Therapist Salary

The average Recreational Therapists Salary calculated by the US Government Bureau of Labor Statistics from a variety of sources. Recreational Therapists work in a number of settings including hospitals, clinics and medical offices.

Wages will vary depending on the location and the setting. Area of specialization also plays a part in how much they earn. The assumption was made that the Recreational Therapists reflected here were working an average of 40 hours per week with a total of 2080 hours per year.

Recreational Therapist Salary: Median Hourly & Annual Data

Untitled 1


Hourly Wage






Annual Wage













A Recreational Therapists average salary is $21.88 per hour. The lowest 10% earn $13.04 per hour and those in the upper 10% earn more than $33.15 per hour.


On an annual basis the average (median) salary is $43,180. The lowest 10% earn less than $27,120 per year while the upper 10% earn more than $68,950 per year. These salaries are calculated as a mean or average.

Lowest and Highest Recreational Therapist Salary

The lowest paid Recreational Therapists earn less with average wages below $12.50 per hour. Presumably this is offset by costs of living and other factors. The lower pay levels are associated with rural areas. The highest pay levels are found in major metropolitan areas where the mean or average wage is over $31.00 per hour. Demand and low supply seem to be a significant factor in fueling higher salaries

Top 5 States

The best states to earn a Recreational Therapist salary are California $62,850, Connecticut $52,810, New Jersey $52,320, Oregon $50,740, and New York $50,690.

Top 5 Metropolitan Areas

The 5 best paying city or metropolitan areas are Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA $74,600, Vallejo-Fairfield, CA $71,020, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA $69,700, San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA Metropolitan Division $67,900 and Fresno, CA $67,010.

Click here to see the salary of Recreational Therapists for all 50 states

Other Industries that Employ Recreational Therapists

The majority are employed in nursing care facilities. A small number of Recreational Therapists work in federal service, military healthcare systems, and universities.

Employment Data

It is estimated that there are 19,650 Recreational Therapists employed in the U.S.

Where They Work

Over 4500 Recreational Therapists work in nursing care facilities. An additional 1300 work in elder care facilities. Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals and general hospitals employ over 8100 more. State and Federal government employs approximately 2500 recreational therapists.

Private Practice vs. Employment

Recreational Therapist's work primarily as supportive personnel. The nature of their work limits the opportunities for self-employment.


Fringe benefits such as vacation, health insurance and retirement plans will vary depending on the work setting and size of the employer. A typical benefits package is worth over $20,000 per year.

International Salary

United Kingdom (UK)[1]

They start their career as allied health professionals in the NHS typically start at Band 5 (£21,176-£27,625), moving to occupational therapist specialist (Band 6, £25,528-£34,189) and then occupational therapist advanced (Band 7, £30,460-£40,157). To progress up each pay scale, staff must demonstrate that they can effectively apply the required knowledge and skills.

Salaries in local government are at similar levels, although there can be significant variations. NHS entry-level positions are available, although the field has become more competitive in recent years. Applicants may need to be flexible about the geographical area in which they are willing to work.


The average Recreation Therapist in Canada is $57,950 CAD. The salary ranges from $25,000 to $75,000 CAD. At current exchange rates the average annual salary for a recreational therapist in Canada is $52,542 USD.


Recreational Therapists, also known as Diversional Therapists, work with patients to create and implement a plan of recreational action. They work with individuals on recreational and physical activities to support and enhance the physical and psychological well-being of those individuals undergoing some form of health regimen.

·         Starting salary: $52,000 P/A

·         Senior salary: $78,000 P/A

·         Average salary: $63,500 P/A

o   Wages will vary according to your level of skill, experience and employer

·         Employment level:5,300 as of November 2012 (Projected employment levels in 2017 of 5,400)

·         Average weekly hours: Average weekly hours worked for a full time Recreational Therapist is 39.3 hours

·         Employment by region: The top three regions for employment as a Recreational Therapist include:

o   VIC: 31.0%

o   NSW: 29.6%

o   QLD: 23.7%

[1] [2] [3]