Degree programs in leisure and recreation studies can prepare you to seek an assortment of jobs. Read on to learn more about job responsibilities, employment outlook, degrees, areas of specialization and certification.
If you decide to pursue an education in this discipline, you'll learn to plan, implement and facilitate recreation and leisure events. You can be trained to teach recreation activities, such as arts and crafts, athletics, dance, and performing arts. You'll learn how to coordinate activity program schedules, resources and transportation. You can expect to work with a variety of people, including the elderly, children and individuals with disabilities. Leadership and organizational skills, as well as patience and understanding, are necessary if you want to work in the professional field of recreation and leisure.
Upon graduating from a recreation and leisure studies degree program, you can seek a wide range of occupations, including camp counselor, recreation leader, activity specialist, event coordinator and administrator. You may be employed by various organizations, such as community centers, senior centers, parks, camps and businesses.
Job opportunities will vary according to the specific degree and level of education you obtain. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that recreation worker employment will increase by 14% between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that the median annual wage for recreation workers was $22,390 as of May 2013.
There are several options if you want a career in recreation and leisure. You could enroll in general recreation and leisure studies degree programs. You could also choose to specialize in areas such as outdoor recreation, therapy recreation or park management. You might also concentrate on health and exercise or sports administration. Although you could begin your education with an associate degree program, bachelor's degree programs are more common and can give you an employment advantage. Once you earn an undergraduate degree, you can seek entry-level jobs.
A master's degree can help you attain more prestigious leadership positions in your career. Earning a doctoral degree can prepare you for an academic career in research and college teaching. Whatever education path you take, courses in recreation and leisure studies typically cover topics such as parks and recreation management, community organization, special needs accommodation and fieldwork.
Depending on the career that you choose, there may be certification options once you earn your bachelor's degree. Although it isn't necessary for all occupations, certification can improve your chances of finding a job. If you work in a technical or professional position, you'll need to become a Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP), a designation administered by the National Recreation and Park Association. If you specialize in therapeutic recreation during your education, you can become a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) through the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification.