Frequently Asked Questions:


How does one become certified as a CTRS?
To be awarded the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) credential, the candidate must meet the eligibility requirements and pass a knowledge-based exam. When the candidate is awarded the CTRS credential, it serves as evidence that the individual, through knowledge and experience, has met NCTRC's CTRS Certification Standards. The award of the CTRS credential is a limited license to use the titles of "Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist®" and "CTRS®" subject to NCTRC's Certification Standards.

Candidates are eligible to register for the NCTRC certification exam if they are in compliance with NCTRC's Certification Standards, including the Prerequisites, and they have been found by NCTRC to meet all professional eligibility requirements through either the academic or equivalency path.

What requirements do I need to complete for an acceptable internship?
You will need to complete a minimum 560-hour, fourteen (14) consecutive week internship in therapeutic recreation services that uses the therapeutic recreation process as defined by the current NCTRC Job Analysis Study under the supervision of both academic and agency field placement supervisors who are NCTRC CTRS certified. Make sure you complete at least 20 hours per week and no more than 45 hours per week. Your primary CTRS Supervisor must be employed full time and work a minimum of 32 hours a week at the agency with at least 50% of the job duties in TR services.

Can I apply while awaiting degree confirmation or internship in progress?
Yes, you may apply for professional eligibility review after completion of the following conditions:

  1. Enrollment in a degree program pertaining to Therapeutic Recreation/Recreation Therapy as defined by the current NCTRC standards.
  2. Completion of a minimum of 90 credit hours toward degree attainment.
  3. Completion of all required coursework other than the field placement requirement, as defined by the current NCTRC standards.
  4. Submission of an official academic transcript denoting the completion of the above requirements.  

Applicants completing this option of the Academic Path application process will be awarded NCTRC certification and the CTRS certificate upon demonstration of the following:

  1. Successful completion the NCTRC exam.
  2. Completion of a field placement experience in accordance with NCTRC Standards.
  3. Academic degree attainment as documented by an official academic transcript.
  4. Field Placement Verification form signed by the field placement supervisor

Can my official transcripts be sent separate from my application?
Transcripts must accompany your mailed application. Each transcript must include registrar signature and seal to be considered official. If you submit your application online, please mail your official transcript within 2 weeks.

Do I need to send transcripts from every college I attended, even if the credits were transferred into the college I graduated from?
Yes, transcripts from all colleges/universities must be included. The only guarantee that all your coursework will be reviewed is to make sure every transcript is submitted with your application.

How long will it take to find out if I am approved to take the NCTRC exam?
You will receive notification in the mail of your application review decision approximately 6 weeks after your application is received by NCTRC.

What is the cost to apply and take the NCTRC Exam as a New Applicant?
The current fee is $400.00. If you apply as a new applicant prior to your degree being posted, the current fee is $425.00.

Can I submit a signed field placement or employment verification form with the application?
Typically, NCTRC mails out the verification form to the respective field placement supervisor or employer and awaits return with signature, however, the signed verification form can be submitted with the application if the signature of either the field placement supervisor, or human resource designee is notarized.

May courses completed from programs such as Massage Therapy (certificate programs), be utilized toward required support coursework?
All coursework must be assigned college credit, from an accredited College or University and must appear on an official College or University transcript.

Can NCTRC review my coursework before I apply for Professional Eligibility?

Yes, the Pre-Application Coursework Review Process can be used when applicants submit completed coursework verified on an official transcript to NCTRC to determine whether or not they meet current certification coursework requirements before submitting a formal application. This process will allow for early confirmation of coursework to individuals who are not certain if coursework previously completed will count towards NCTRC Eligibility. If you are interested in more information, please see the Pre-Application Coursework Review Form.

Can I earn NCTRC Professionally Eligibility by completing an on-line TR certificate program?

Yes, you can gain Professional Eligibility to sit for the NCTRC exam but only through the Equivalency Path A or Equivalency Path B application process. (Please note: an academic internship is not required by the Equivalency Path option).


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When do I need to apply to take the NCTRC exam?
Applications are accepted throughout the year; however, there are deadlines for filing applications before each exam. Please see the scheduled exam windows at http://nctrc.org/cbtexam.htm.

When can I register to take the exam for Recertification?
You may register to take the last exam prior to your Recertification due date. If you do not pass the exam, your certification will become inactive. You will have a two year time period in which to take and pass the exam through the Reentry program.

What are the specific dates the NCTRC exam is given on?
Typically, the NCTRC exam is offered the first full two weeks of the exam month.

How do I select the test site for the exam?
Prometric is NCTRC's partner for delivery of computer-based tests. Up-to-date Prometric Test Center locations are published at the web-site www.prometric.com/nctrc. You may take the NCTRC exam at any Prometric Testing Center provided there is space available. You will receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) from Prometric 30 days prior to your scheduled exam. When you receive your ATT, visit www.prometric.com/nctrc or call 1-888-999-3926 to make your appointment. It is the applicant's responsibility to confirm their test site.

When do I receive my exam score?
You will receive an unofficial pass or fail score notification at the test center. Official score reports will be mailed from Prometric at the conclusion of the testing window.

What is the NCTRC Exam fee?
The current fee is $300.00.

How can I prepare to take the NCTRC exam?
Go to www.NCTRC.org for exam content resources and study aids on computer based testing. Review the NCTRC Standards information on the Exam, including the Exam Content Outline. The list of exam references is helpful for further information.

If I take and pass the NCTRC exam and become certified, may I begin to earn continuing education credit toward Recertification?

Yes. You may begin to earn continuing education hours for your 5 year certification cycle once you have successfully completed the exam for certification.

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CTRS Annual Maintenance

What is the difference between Annual Expiration Date and Recertification Due Date?
The Annual Expiration Date is the date by which a CTRS must submit the annual maintenance application and fee. This renewal process must be completed each year within the five-year CTRS Certification cycle. An active CTRS is eligible to:

  • Use the designation "CTRS" and "Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist"
  • Serve as a supervisor for a proposed internship requiring an active CTRS

The Recertification Due Date is the date by which a CTRS must submit the recertification application and fee. This renewal process must be completed every five years and in accordance to the NCTRC Recertification standards.

Am I still required to complete the CTRS annual maintenance process by my annual expiration date if I don't receive the form from NCTRC?
Yes, you are required to submit the annual maintenance form and fee each year of your five year certification cycle to keep your certification active even if you do not receive the form in the mail. NCTRC will send you an annual maintenance notice at least eight to ten weeks prior to your expiration date. If for some reason you do not receive your notice by the first of the month in which your certification is due, please obtain the form from NCTRC's website at www.NCTRC.org or call the office so we can fax you the proper form.

What if I cannot locate the individual I am searching for on the Verification Page of the NCTRC website?
Confirm the spelling and/or numbers entered in your search. Then, confirm whether the individual recently changed his or her name or address. NCTRC requires certificants to regularly update changes in their name and address, but occasionally, such changes are not reported to NCTRC. Also, call the NCTRC office. Our staff may have additional resources to identify a certificant. Additionally, our staff may request your assistance if we believe the individual you are searching may be using the "CTRS" or "Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist" designations in violation of NCTRC's trademark rights. You Should Not assume that the individual is violating NCTRC's trademarks or that the individual's certification has been suspended, revoked, or sanctioned. NCTRC excludes information about NCTRC's current and former certificants whose certification is currently sanctioned.

What if I need a written verification?
If a written verification is required, please email the following information to NCTRC: Person you wish to verify by first and last name, the certification number or social security number, name of the individual requesting the verification, position of the individual requesting the verification, name of the agency, mailing address of the agency (street, city, state, zip code), telephone number with area code of the individual requesting the verification, whether or not you would like an email or fax verification, and reason for the verification. Please email this information directly to NCTRC at NCTRC@NCTRC.org.

What can I do if I believe my maintenance form and payment have been lost in the mail?
If you have not received your credentials and your payment has not been posted within a reasonable period of time, contact NCTRC immediately. It is always advisable to make a copy of your application forms and save check or money order receipts for your records.

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When it is time for me to recertify, what do I need to send in?

NCTRC will notify each certificant approximately 60 days before the end of the five-year certification cycle. Recertification applications may be submitted no earlier than 12 months prior to the certification expiration date. Please do not send records of continuing education to NCTRC unless you are requested to do so as part of the audit process. Upon receipt of the recertification application, NCTRC will select at random a percentage of applications for audit. Certificants who are selected for audit will be directly notified by NCTRC via postal mail. Certificants will have 15 days to submit their continuing education materials for the audit process. Failure to submit the continuing education materials in a timely manner will result in a denial of recertification. If you are not selected for audit, you will not need to submit your continuing education documents.

How many CEU's do I need to complete for my recertification?
NCTRC requires completion of 50 hours of continuing education (it does not have to be awarded in CEU credit) over the five year certification cycle.

Does NCTRC track my continuing education hours?
NCTRC does not track continuing education hours, including CEU's. A certificate or transcript must be acquired and maintained by the certificant, for future submission on the Recertification due date.

I have received a reminder for the NCTRC exam. Does this mean I am required to take it?
NCTRC sends reminders as a courtesy. Please disregard the reminder if it does not pertain to your situation.

Do I need to work full-time in TR to meet the recertification requirements?
Full-time work experience in TR is not necessary to complete the recertification requirements. Along with the 50 hours of continuing education, a CTRS must have 480 hours of TR work experience to meet recertification requirements. There is not a specific hour requirement each year.

How do I know if the continuing education I have taken for my recertification is going to be accepted by NCTRC?

NCTRC offers an approval process for completed continuing education hours prior to the submission of a formal recertification application. NCTRC’s Continuing Education Pre-Application Review Process allows certificants to submit completed continuing education prior to recertification to determine whether it meets current recertification requirements. This process will allow for early confirmation of continuing education to individuals who are not certain if previously completed education will count towards NCTRC Recertification requirements. The application form is available at www.NCTRC.org under Standards and Publications.

The standards require that a CTRS must submit an official document (not a copy) of continuing education credit which indicates your name, attendance date (which must be within your 5 year cycle), title of the course or program and contact hours (it does not have to awarded in CEU credit). If the CTRS is unable to obtain such a document, then the sponsor or instructor of the program must provide a written statement including all the necessary information mentioned above, on agency letterhead.

The title of the course or program, as listed on the official document, is critical to whether it can be utilized toward NCTRC Recertification. The title must relate to one of the Job Analysis Knowledge Area Items. In order to match the title with the Items, the title must be clear and reflective of the program. If it is not, you will need to obtain the program brochure to submit with the document. You will need to review the Job Analysis Knowledge Areas in its entirety. You can access the Knowledge Areas on our website or by contacting our office. An example of matching the information would be if you attended a workshop titled "Understanding Alzheimer's Disease and its symptoms." This topic can be applied under The Job Analysis Knowledge Area, Foundational Knowledge (FKW), where Item #13 "Cognitive/developmental disorders and related impairments (e.g., dementia, …) shows a match.

Which continuing education sessions will not be accepted toward recertification?
Certain continuing education will not be accepted toward NCTRC Recertification. This includes CPR, First Aid, Infectious Disease Control, Life Saving, and Activity or other Skill courses. Activity courses refers to a program which is primarily teaching you how to perform a certain activity (Examples include Gardening workshop, Adapted waterskiing, Arts & Crafts, and computer software classes). Such courses are not considered related to the Job Analysis Knowledge Areas and are not reflective of continued professional competence unique to therapeutic recreation.

The final option for being assured that your continuing education credit will count toward NCTRC Recertification is to submit the application early. NCTRC accepts Recertification applications up to 12 months prior to the end of your five year cycle. If you submit even 6 months early, you will be notified if you have not met the requirements, and you can then earn additional continuing education credit and submit a second application before your certification expires.

Can I complete continuing education hours that are offered online, through correspondence or teleconference methods?
Yes, NCTRC will accept continuing education that is provided in alternative methods as long as the education meets the Recertification Requirements as outlined in the NCTRC Standards.

What option do I have if I do not have enough continuing education and work experience before the end of my five year certification cycle?
CTRSs can register and take the last scheduled exam prior to their recertification expiration date to meet recertification requirements.

How can I regain my certification if I am not working for a few years and my certification expires?
NCTRC's Reentry Program is designed for individuals whose certification recently expired. Individuals may register to take the NCTRC CTRS certification examination, without needing to meet the current educational and experiential requirements for initial certification. Reentry certification eligibility is for candidates who were CTRS certified within two years prior to their application for reentry; and who apply for reentry eligibility to take a CTRS certification examination that is scheduled to be administered within the two years immediately following expiration of their CTRS certification.

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What changes or updates have taken place that I need to be aware of?
For complete information on NCTRC's Standards Changes, please click on Recent News, Certification Standards.

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