Recreation Workers Career Information
At School Soup we want to help you on your Recreation Workers Career path. Here in our Recreation Workers career section, we have lots of great information to help you learn all about Recreation Workers. If you're interested in other possible careers, please select a career from the dropdown menu below to learn more about that specific career.
Significant Points· Educational requirements for recreation workers range from a high school
diploma to a graduate degree, whereas fitness workers usually need certification.
· Competition will remain keen for full-time career positions in recreation; however, job prospects for fitness workers will be more favorable.
Nature of the WorkPeople
spend much of their leisure time participating in a wide variety of organized
recreational activities, such as aerobics, arts and crafts, the performing arts,
camping, and sports. Recreation and fitness workers plan, organize, and direct
these activities in local playgrounds and recreation areas, parks, community
centers, health clubs, fitness centers, religious organizations, camps, theme
parks, and tourist attractions. Increasingly, recreational and fitness workers also are found in workplaces,
where they organize and direct leisure activities and athletic programs for
employees of all ages.
Recreation workers hold a variety of positions at different levels of responsibility. Recreation leaders, who are responsible for a recreation program’s daily operation, primarily organize and direct participants. They may lead and give instruction in dance, drama, crafts, games, and sports; schedule use of facilities; keep records of equipment use; and ensure that recreation facilities and equipment are used properly. Workers who provide instruction and coach groups in specialties such as art, music, drama, swimming, or tennis may be called activity specialists. Recreation supervisors oversee recreation leaders and plan, organize, and manage recreational activities to meet the needs of a variety of populations. These workers often serve as liaisons between the director of the park or recreation center and the recreation leaders. Recreation supervisors with more-specialized responsibilities also may direct special activities or events or oversee a major activity, such as aquatics, gymnastics, or performing arts.
Directors of recreation and parks develop and manage comprehensive recreation programs in parks, playgrounds, and other settings. Directors usually serve as technical advisors to State and local recreation and park commissions and may be responsible for recreation and park budgets.
Camp counselors lead and instruct children and teenagers in outdoor-oriented forms of recreation, such as swimming, hiking, horseback riding, and camping. In addition, counselors provide campers with specialized instruction in activities such as archery, boating, music, drama, gymnastics, tennis, and computers. In resident camps, counselors also provide guidance and supervise daily living and general socialization.
Fitness workers instruct or coach groups or individuals in various exercise activities. Because gyms and health clubs offer a variety of exercise activities such as weightlifting, yoga, aerobics, and karate, fitness workers typically specialize in only a few areas. Fitness trainers help clients assess their level of physical fitness and help them set and reach fitness goals. They also demonstrate various exercise activities and help clients improve their techniques. They may keep records of their clients' exercise sessions to analyze their progress towards physical fitness. Personal trainers work with clients on a one-on-one basis in either a gym or the client’s home. Aerobics instructors conduct group exercise sessions that involve aerobic exercise, stretching, and muscle conditioning. Some fitness workers may perform the duties of both aerobics instructors and fitness trainers. Fitness directors oversee the operations of a health club or fitness center. Their work involves creating and maintaining programs that meet the needs of the club’s members.
Working ConditionsRecreation and fitness workers may work in
a variety of settings—for example, a health club, cruise ship, woodland recreational
park, or a playground in the center of a large urban community. Regardless of
setting, most recreation workers spend much of their time outdoors and may work
in a variety of weather conditions, whereas most fitness workers spend their
time indoors at fitness centers and health clubs.
Recreation and fitness directors and supervisors, however, typically spend most
of their time in an office, planning programs and special events. Directors
and supervisors generally engage in less physical activity than do lower-level
recreation and fitness workers. Nevertheless, recreation and fitness workers
at all levels risk suffering injuries during physical activities.
Most recreation and fitness workers work about 40 hours a week. People entering this field, especially camp counselors, should expect some night and weekend work and irregular hours. About 3 out of 10 work part time, and many recreation jobs are seasonal.
Recreation workers held about 310,000 jobs in 2009, and many additional workers held summer jobs in the occupation. Of those with year-round jobs as recreation workers, about 35 percent worked for local governments, primarily in park and recreation departments. Around 11 percent of recreation workers were employed in civic and social organizations, such as the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts or the Red Cross. Another 15 percent of recreation workers were employed by nursing and other personal care facilities.
The recreation field has an unusually large number of part-time, seasonal, and volunteer jobs, including summer camp counselors, craft specialists, and afterschool and weekend recreation program leaders. In addition, many teachers and college students accept jobs as recreation workers when school is not in session. The vast majority of volunteers serve as activity leaders at local day camp programs, or in youth organizations, camps, nursing homes, hospitals, senior centers, and other settings.
Training, Qualifications, Adv.Educational requirements for recreation workers
range from a high school diploma—or sometimes less for many summer jobs—to graduate
degrees for some administrative positions in large public recreation systems.
Full-time career professional positions usually require a college degree with
a major in parks and recreation or leisure studies, but a bachelor’s degree
in any liberal arts field may be sufficient for some jobs in the private sector.
In industrial recreation, or “employee services” as
it is more commonly called, companies prefer to hire those with a bachelor’s
degree in recreation or leisure studies and a background in business administration.
Specialized training or experience in a particular field, such as art, music, drama, or athletics, is an asset for many jobs. Some jobs also require certification. For example, a lifesaving certificate is a prerequisite for teaching or coaching water-related activities. Graduates of associate degree programs in parks and recreation, social work, and other human services disciplines also enter some career recreation positions. High school graduates occasionally enter career positions, but this is not common. Some college students work part time as recreation workers while earning degrees.
A bachelor’s degree and experience are preferred for most recreation supervisor jobs and required for most higher level administrator jobs. However, increasing numbers of recreation workers who aspire to administrator positions obtain master’s degrees in parks and recreation or related disciplines. Certification in the recreation field also may be helpful for advancement. Also, many persons in other disciplines, including social work, forestry, and resource management, pursue graduate degrees in recreation.
Programs leading to an associate or bachelor’s degree in parks and recreation, leisure studies, or related fields are offered at several hundred colleges and universities. Many also offer master’s or doctoral degrees in this field. In 2000, 100 bachelor’s degree programs in parks and recreation were accredited by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). Accredited programs provide broad exposure to the history, theory, and practice of park and recreation management. Courses offered include community organization; supervision and administration; recreational needs of special populations, such as the elderly or disabled; and supervised fieldwork. Students may specialize in areas such as therapeutic recreation, park management, outdoor recreation, industrial or commercial recreation, or camp management.
Certification in the recreation field is offered by the NRPA National Certification Board. The NRPA, along with its State chapters, offers certification as a Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) for those with a college degree in recreation, and as a Certified Park and Recreation Associate (CPRA) for those with less than 4 years of college. Other NRPA certifications include Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) and Aquatic Facility Operator (AFO) Certification. Continuing education is necessary to remain certified.
Generally, fitness trainers and aerobics instructors must obtain a certification in the fitness field to obtain employment. Certification may be offered in various areas of exercise such as personal training, weight training, and aerobics. There are many organizations that offer certification testing in the fitness field, including the American College of Sports Medicine, American Council on Exercise, and National Strength and Conditioning Association. Certification generally is good for two years, after which workers must become recertified. Recertification is accomplished by attending continuing education classes. Most fitness workers are required to maintain a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification. Some employers also require workers to be certified in first aid.
An increasing number of employers require fitness workers to have a bachelor’s degree in fields related to health or fitness, such as exercise science or physical education. Some employers allow workers to substitute a college degree for certification, while others require both a degree and certification. A bachelor's degree (and, in some cases, a master's degree in exercise science, physical education, or a related area), along with experience, usually is required to advance to management positions in a health club or fitness center. Many fitness workers become personal trainers, in addition to their main job in a fitness center or as a full-time job. Some workers go into business for themselves and open up their own fitness centers.
Persons planning recreation and fitness careers should be outgoing, good at motivating people, and sensitive to the needs of others. Excellent health and physical fitness are required due to the physical nature of the job. As in many fields, managerial skills are needed to advance to supervisory or managerial positions. College courses in management, business administration, accounting, and personnel management are helpful for advancement to supervisory or managerial positions.
Job OutlookCompetition will be keen for career positions for recreation workers because this field attracts many applicants and because the number of career positions is limited compared with the numerous lower level seasonal jobs. Opportunities for staff positions should be best for persons with formal training and experience gained in part-time or seasonal recreation jobs. Those with graduate degrees should have the best opportunities for supervisory or administrative positions. Opportunities are expected to be better for fitness trainers and aerobics instructors because of relatively rapid growth in employment. Job openings for both recreation and fitness workers also will stem from the need to replace the large numbers of workers who leave these occupations each year.
The recreation field provides a large number of temporary, seasonal jobs. These positions, which typically are filled by high school or college students, generally do not have formal education requirements and are open to anyone with the desired personal qualities. Employers compete for a share of the vacationing student labor force and, although salaries in recreation often are lower than those in other fields, the nature of the work and the opportunity to work outdoors are attractive to many. Seasonal employment prospects as program directors should be best for applicants with specialized training and certification in certain activities, such as swimming.
Overall employment of recreation and fitness workers is expected
Projected job growth stems, in part, from rising demand for recreational and fitness activities for older adults in senior centers, retirement communities, and other settings. In order to prevent many illnesses, such as heart disease, strokes, and arthritis, the general population has increasingly sought the benefits of exercise and its effects on overall health and well-being. In addition, more workers will be needed to develop and lead activity programs in halfway houses, children’s homes, and daycare programs for people with special needs. Recreation and fitness jobs also will continue to increase as more businesses recognize the benefits of recreation and fitness programs and other services such as wellness programs. Job growth also will occur in amusement parks, athletic clubs, camps, sports clinics, and swimming pools.
In May 2009, median annual earnings of recreation workers who worked full time were $19,320. The middle 50 percent earned between $15,640 and $25,380. The lowest paid 10 percent earned less than $13,260, while the highest paid 10 percent earned $34,280 or more. However, earnings of recreation directors and others in supervisory or managerial positions can be substantially higher. Most public and private recreation agencies provide full-time recreation workers with typical benefits; part-time workers receive few, if any, benefits. In May 2009, median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of recreation workers were as follows:
|Nursing care facilities||$20,660|
|Individual and family services||19,260|
|Other amusement and recreation industries||17,060|
|Civic and social organizations||16,950|
Related OccupationsRecreation workers must exhibit leadership and sensitivity when dealing with people. Other occupations that require similar personal qualities include
For information on jobs in recreation, contact employers such as local government departments of parks and recreation, nursing and personal care facilities, the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, or local social or religious organizations. For information on careers, certification, and academic programs in parks and recreation, contact: For career information about camp counselors, contact:
Sources of Additional Information
For information on jobs in recreation, contact employers such as local government departments of parks and recreation, nursing and personal care facilities, the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, or local social or religious organizations.
For information on careers, certification, and academic programs in parks and recreation, contact:
For career information about camp counselors, contact: