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Diversional Therapist

Kaihaumanu Rēhia

Alternative titles for this job

Diversional therapists plan and run leisure programmes that enhance the emotional, social and physical wellbeing of individuals.


New diversional therapists usually earn

$20-$26 per hour

Diversional therapists in managerial roles usually earn

$30-$35 per hour

Source: NZSDRT, 2020.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a diversional therapist are good due to growing demand.


Pay for diversional therapists varies depending on experience, qualifications, registration and responsibilities.

  • New diversional therapists with relevant experience, such as community work, but no specific qualifications usually earn $20 an hour.
  • Newly qualified diversional therapists usually earn $25 to $26 an hour.
  • Registered diversional therapists usually earn $28 to $30 an hour.
  • Diversional therapists in managerial roles can earn between $30 and $35 an hour.

Source: NZ Society of Diversional Registered Therapists, 2020.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Diversional therapists may do some or all of the following:

  • plan recreational events and activities
  • encourage participation and enjoyment in events and activities
  • assess and document participants' progress
  • discuss participants' progress with medical and other professionals, and families.

Skills and knowledge

Diversional therapists need to have:

  • planning and organisational ability
  • communication skills
  • leadership skills and the ability to motivate people
  • knowledge of art and craft techniques, and sporting and cultural activities
  • knowledge of safety issues and first aid.

Working conditions

Diversional therapists:

  • work shifts, which can include evenings and weekends
  • may work in rest homes, community centres, schools, youth centres or early childhood centres.

Entry requirements

There are no specific entry requirements to become a diversional therapist. However, to become a registered diversional therapist you need to complete a New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Social and Community Services) (Level 4).

The Careerforce diversional therapy qualification is an apprenticeship, which means you need to be working as a diversional therapist or similar to enrol.

The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children.

Secondary education

NCEA Level 2 is required to enter tertiary training. Useful subjects include English, health education, music, dance and drama, painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking combined, and physical education.

For Year 11 to 13 learners, the Gateway programme is a good way to gain relevant experience and skills.

Personal requirements

Diversional therapists need to be:

  • patient
  • enthusiastic
  • team players
  • caring
  • good communicators
  • respectful
  • practical.

Useful experience

Useful experience for diversional therapists includes work with the elderly, people with disabilities and children.

Physical requirements

Diversional therapists need to have a good level of fitness and must be reasonably strong, as they may need to help carry or move people.


The New Zealand Society of Diversional Therapists represents diversional therapists. Registration is not compulsory.

Find out more about training

Careerforce ITO
0800 277 486 - info@careerforce.org.nz - www.careerforce.org.nz
Society of Diversional Therapists New Zealand Inc
secretary@diversionaltherapy.net.nz - www.diversionaltherapy.net.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Demand for diversional therapists growing

Demand for diversional therapists' services is growing due to:

  • an ageing population, which means more people in rest homes and hospitals
  • an increasing number of people with disabilities in supported living.

According to the Census, the number of diversional therapists in New Zealand rose from 1,008 in 2013 to 1,608 in 2018.

Registration boosts chances of getting diversional therapy work

Becoming a registered diversional therapist can increase your chances of finding work as it means you can prove you have at least 3,000 hours of experience, and that you follow a code of ethics.

Types of employers varied

Most diversional therapists work in rest homes and hospitals, but some also work for:

  • youth and community centres
  • agencies that support people with disabilities
  • childcare centres.


  • New Zealand Aged Care Association website, accessed September 2020, (www.nzaca.org.nz).
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
  • Tamayo Mortera, O, registered diversional therapist and president, New Zealand Society of Diversional Registered Therapists, careers.govt.nz interview, September 2020.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Diversional therapists may progress to management and development roles, heading the recreation teams at rest homes and hospitals.

With further training, diversional therapists may progress to become occupational therapists.

Diversional therapists may specialise in:

  • art therapy
  • music therapy
  • play.
Diversional therapist plays the guitar while a woman smiles at the camera and plays the bongoes

Diversional therapists plan leisure activities that improve clients' wellbeing

Last updated 15 September 2020