Recreational Therapy Certification

Below is all the information you need to know about the process of earning your recreational therapy certification and licensure.

Recreational Therapy Certification Governing Bodies

In the field of Therapeutic Recreation there are various certifications, licenses, and/or other regulations that are required depending on the specific state that you are employeed.

Currently there are 3 certification boards for the field, 5 states with licesure requirements, and 2 states with other regulations such as registration or title protection requirements. Below are links to each governing body:

Certification Boards

National Certification

National Council Of Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC)


Texas State Certification

Consortium for Therapeutic Recreation/Activities Certification (CTRAC)


California State Certification

California Board of Recreation ​and Park Certification (CBRPC)

State Licensing Boards

New Hampshire

Office of Licensed Allied Health Professionals

North Carolina

Board of Recreational Therapy Licensure


Oklahoma Medical Board


Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing

New Jersey

Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing *Newly Established

Other States with Other Regulations


Title Protection



The Most Widely Accepted Recreational Therapy Certification: CTRS (Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist)

Qualifications Needed To Be Eligible for the CTRS Certification Through NCTRC:

Recreational therapists need a bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy or a related field such as recreation and leisure studies with an emphasis or concentration in recreational therapy/therapeutic recreation.

The National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) offers the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) credential which is the most widely recognized of the certifications for Recreational Therapists.

Candidates may qualify for certification through one of 3 pathways:

Acedemic Path:

The Academic Path is designed for the traditional academic graduate. The steps include:

Completion of Bachelor degree or
higher with concentration in
Recreational Therapy
(Therapeutic Recreation)

Completion of a minimum 14 week / 560
hour internship supervised by a CTRS

Successful completion of the NCTRC
Certification Exam



*This path will be phased out effective July 1, 2021

Completion of a Bachelor degree or higher

Completion of specific coursework in
Recreational Therapy (Therapeutic

Five (5) years full-time paid work experience
in Recreational Therapy (Therapeutic Recreation)

Successful completion of the NCTRC
Certification Exam


*Effective Starting July 1, 2019

Completion of a Bachelor degree or higher

Completion of specific coursework in
Recreational Therapy (Therapeutic Recreation)

Paid work experience that uses the
Therapeutic Recreation process
under the supervision of a CTRS

Successful completion of the NCTRC
Certification Exam

NCTRC also offers 7 Specialty Recreational Therapy Certification opportunities for therapists to further their professional credentials:

– Adaptive Sports and Recreation

– Behavioral Health

– Community Inclusion Services

– Developmental Disabilities

– Geriatrics

– Pediatrics

– Physical Medicine/Rehabilitation

*For more information about the CTRS credential and specialty certifications please visit NCTRC: NCTRC

We have already compiled a list of all the resources you will need to prepare for the CTRS exam here