Recreation/Athletic Therapist

Specialized therapists use techniques such as athletic, movement, art or recreational therapy to aid in the treatment of mental and physical disabilities or injuries. They are employed by establishments such as hospitals, rehabilitation centres, extended health care facilities, clinics, recreational centres, nursing homes, industry, educational institutions and sports organizations, or they may work in private practice.

Essential Skills

(the number in brackets indicates the level of ES)


Program Locations in Alberta

  • Lethbridge College – Lethbridge, AB
  • NorQuest College – Edmonton, AB
  • University of Lethbridge – Lethbridge, Calgary, Edmonton, AB

Program Contact

Program Description

  • The minimum education requirement is a degree or diploma in recreation with a specialization in therapeutic recreation. A four year degree is generally required for employment as a recreation therapist in acute care hospitals. Two year diploma program graduates may be hired as recreation therapy assistants. Employers also may require applicants to have First Aid and CPR certification, training in group-based fitness instruction or therapy, specialized training in patient assessment and a valid Class 4 or 5 driver’s license. The following schools  in Alberta offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements:
  • Therapeutic Recreation – Gerontology (Lethbridge College)-
  • The two year Diploma Program is offered on campus and online. New students are admitted into the Therapeutic Recreation – Gerontology campus-based program in the fall (September) term. New students completing the program through Online Learning can be admitted in the fall (September), winter (January), or spring (May) terms.  Online Learning students admitted in winter and spring terms will not be able to complete the program in two years.
  • Therapeutic Recreation/ Therapeutic Recreation Program (NorQuest College)
  • The two-year Diploma program focuses on the concepts, theory and practical experiences related to leadership and critical thinking needed to work with clients and enhance their quality of life through leisure activities. It includes a 320-hour practicum. Graduates from this diploma program are eligible for professional membership in Alberta Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA)
  • Bachelor of Therapeutic Recreation (University of Lethbridge)
  • The Bachelor of Therapeutic Recreation is a Post-diploma program preparing graduates to become Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS). The program is the first of its kind in Alberta and one of only eight degree programs leading to Therapeutic Recreation certification in Canada. Therapeutic recreation uses functional intervention, education and recreation to help those with cognitive, physical, emotional and social limitations gain independence and reduce barriers to wellness and activity. This career field is emerging as one of the most promising growth professions in health care. A diploma in Therapeutic Recreation or other diplomas in therapeutic recreation or recreation therapy may be considered as pre-requisites.

Program Length & Cost

(as indicated on Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website)

  • Therapeutic Recreation (Lethbridge College) – 2 Years $3,162.00 + 2,050.00 Books & Supplies + $1,115.00 Mandatory Fees ( Year One)
  • Therapeutic Recreation/ Therapeutic Recreation Program (NorQuest College) – 2 Years – $4,879.00 + $2,308.00 Books & Supplies + $1,594.00 Mandatory Fees ( Year One)
  • Bachelor of Therapeutic Recreation (University of Lethbridge) –  4 Years  $5,890+ $ $1,250 Books & Supplies + $ 247.00 Health & Dental – Total: $7, 387 ( Year One)

Occupation Outlook

  • Occupational outlook is currently unavailable. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions. Recreation therapists are employed in a variety of settings such as hospitals and related urgent and community care facilities, long term care and assisted living residences, rehabilitation hospitals and clinics, day programs and outpatient services, private community based agencies. Advancement opportunities vary depending on the organization and the therapist’s academic qualifications. Recreation therapists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 3144: Other Professional Occupations in Therapy and Assessment. In Alberta, 80% of people employed in this classification work in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry. The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry) location in Alberta, employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions), occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before), size of the occupation. Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.


  • Average Salary: $59,082.00 | Average Wage: $35.52

Resources – ALIS profile, NOC, IAF


  • Certification- Not required
  • Alberta Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA) – | Business:  +1-403-258-2520

Career Info

NOC link: 3144
Offered Online? Lethbridge College – Yes/NorQuest College - Yes
Last Updated: Dec 27, 2017

NOC ListPhysiotherapy