Employment Possibilities

What is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist? (CTRS)

A Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist has acquired a body of knowledge that includes theory, philosophy, and practice that spans a wide range of disabling conditions and illnesses. When that knowledge is applied, the CTRS addresses the total person and related life factors. All UWL Therapeutic Recreation graduates are eligible to sit for the CTRS national certification exam.

  • UWL Therapeutic Recreation graduates have a 94% pass rate on the national certification exam offered by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification.
  • UWL TR graduates consistently score very high on the national certification exam (higher than the regional and national averages).
  • The CTRS credential is recognized by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) and the commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) as well as many governmental regulatory agencies.
  • Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists have demonstrated a unique set of competencies, abilities, and skills for practice in a wide variety of health care and human service settings.
  • Entry level professionals who seek the CTRS credential need to complete the following at UWL:
    • A Bachelor of Science or Master of Science in Therapeutic Recreation.
    • Designated coursework
    • Full-time internship under the supervision of a CTRS (16 weeks during the student’s last semester before graduation)
    • Pass the NCTRC national certification exam
  • The CTRS’ certification is designed to exemplify the profession’s dedication to quality standards and professional excellence.
  • There are nearly 30, 000 therapeutic recreation specialists/ recreation therapists in the United States with over 16,000 professionally certified by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification.
  • As demand for therapeutic recreation increases, the number of people who are Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists is expected to rise and play an important role in today’s health care arena.
  • See "Recreation Therapists" on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website for an occupational outlook.

Sample Therapeutic Recreation Jobs

Jobs in therapeutic recreation vary by setting, types of individuals served, and locale.

Here are just a few examples of employers of UWL TR grads.


  • St. Mary’s Hospital – Mayo Clinic: physical rehabilitation, psychiatry
  • St. Joseph’s Hospital – Marshfield Clinic:
    • Mental health (addictions, psychiatry)
    • Pediatrics (child life)
    • Physical rehabilitation
  • Gundersen Lutheran Hospital: psychiatry, child life, physical rehab
  • Franciscan Skemp: psychiatry (adolescent unit, inpatient adult unit)
  • Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN
  • Veterans’ Administration Hospitals

Psychiatric Hospitals:

  • Mendota Mental Health Institute, Madison, WI
  • Winnebago Mental Health Institute, Oshkosh, WI
  • Rogers Memorial Psychiatric Hospital, Oconomowoc, WI
  • Lakeview Hospital, West Salem, WI

Pediatric Hospitals:

  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Children’s Hospital of New Orleans
  • Gillette Children’s Specialty Health Care, St. Paul, MN
  • St. Joseph’s Children’s Specialty Health Care, Marshfield, WI

Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Centers:

  • St. Mary’s Hospital, Madison, WI
  • St. Joseph’s Hospital, Marshfield, WI

Correctional Facilities:

  • Federal Medical Center, Rochester, MN
  • Minnesota Department of Corrections, Red Wing, MN
  • Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center, Mauston, WI

Geriatric Facilities:

  • Bethany St. Joseph Health Care, La Crosse, WI
  • Charter Hourse, Rochester, MN
  • Hillview Health Care, La Crosse, WI
  • Assisted living facilities  

Community Settings:

  • Easter Seals Camps, Wisconsin Dells, WI
  • Special Recreation Associations, Chicago suburbs, IL
  • Rockford Park and Recreation Programs, Rockford, IL
  • La Crosse Area Special Olympics
  • Rocky Mountain MS Center, Denver, CO
  • Chileda Habilitation Institute
  • Group Homes for people with disabilities