Recreation Director: Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become a recreation director. Learn about certification, employment growth and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Sports Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Recreation Director?

Recreation directors manage long-term and day-to-day aspects of recreation programs. They're responsible for facility scheduling, equipment use records, enforcement of policy and safety regulations, and activities development. They may work for organizations and entities like camps, parks and senior centers. Activities they may oversee include arts and crafts, and music programs. The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree; master's degree
Key Responsibilities Ensure safety of recreation equipment and facilities; schedule special events; draw up annual budget
Certification Several voluntary credentials offered through the NRPA and the CPRE
Job Growth (2012-2022) 10% for all recreation workers*
Median Salary (2015) $23,320 for all recreation workers *

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Job Duties Will I Have as a Recreation Director?

Recreation directors are high-level administrators who oversee recreation programs, manage facilities and supervise staff. They work for parks and recreation departments, civic groups, local governments, camps, community recreation centers, golf courses, resorts, sports facilities, fitness centers, tourism sites and nursing homes and healthcare providers.

As a recreation director, you make sure facilities and equipment receive regular upkeep or repairs to stay in safe condition. You may also arrange special events. You make an annual budget and monitor incomes and expenses throughout the year. Other duties might include advising government and recreational boards.

Do I Need a Degree?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you need experience combined with an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree in the recreation field in order to get hired for many upper-level administrative recreational positions ( Administrators working for major park districts and organizations need at least a bachelor's degree, according to BLS. Some employers prefer administrators with a master's degree in the recreation field or in business or public administration.

Can I Get Certified?

You can demonstrate your expertise and increase chances for career advancement by seeking voluntary national certification. The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) offers four certification designations for parks, recreation and leisure industry workers, depending upon job duties and experience (

The Certified Park and Recreation Executive (CPRE) is a new certification level added by NRPA in 2010-2011 for mid-level and upper-level administrators, managers and executives. To be eligible for CPRE certification, you must possess a master's degree plus four years of management experience or a bachelor's degree plus five years of management experience. You must already hold Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) certification to apply for CPRE certification, but you can hold only one NPRA certification. You need to meet continuing education requirements to renew your CPRE certification every three years. The other two NRPA certifications are Aquatic Facility Operator and Certified Playground Safety Inspector.

What Salary Could I Earn? reported the yearly wage earned by most recreation directors was $29,965 - $68,957 as of 2016. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that jobs for all types of recreation workers will grow by 10% between 2014 and 2024.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Related careers include athletic trainers, exercise physiologists and recreational therapists. Athletic trainers work to treat or prevent medical conditions of the muscle and bone. Exercise physiologists design programs for those struggling with chronic illnesses. Recreational therapists create applicable programs for those with disabilities and illnesses. All careers require a bachelor's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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