2018–2019 Salary Trends for Park and Recreation Officials, Now Available

(August 8, 2019)

Survey data derived by park and recreation agencies nationwide

Ashburn, Va. (Aug. 8, 2019) — A recent survey conducted by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) highlights salary and bonus data for park and recreation agency directors, planning directors, finance directors, recreation directors and park operations directors nationwide. The data in the survey report includes detailed comparisons based on agency size, type and characteristics of the persons in the positions (e.g., education, certifications and years in the profession).

Based on the responses from 470 park and recreation agencies, the NRPA Park and Recreation Salary Survey concludes:

  • Salaries are typically higher for those with greater professional experience, greater education attainment and a professional certification, such as NRPA’s Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) and  (CPRE) certifications 
  • Park and recreation agencies typically cover 80 percent of their full-time employees’ health insurance premiums
  • The majority (80 percent) of park and recreation agencies offer their full-time employees a defined benefit retirement plan (i.e., pension)
  • More than half (65 percent) of park and recreation agencies offer their full-time employees a defined contribution retirement plan (e.g., 401(k), 403(b))

The survey report also identifies typical 2018–2019 salary increases for each of the 10 job titles (spanning between +2.5% and +3.4%) and median annual vacation days.

“In increasingly competitive job markets, fair and competitive compensation for park professionals is essential,” said Kristine Stratton, NRPA president and CEO. “NRPA encourages local government agencies to use this survey data as a guide to recognize the hard work and dedication of park and recreation employees.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017, there were more than 157,000 full-time employees of local park and recreation agencies in the United States, with several hundred thousand more part-time and seasonal workers. These individuals provide opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to experience the benefits of parks and recreation through greater access to nature and the outdoors as well as health and wellness programs that improve the overall well-being of communities.

To access all the survey resources, visit www.nrpa.org/salary-survey.   

To learn more about NRPA, visit www.nrpa.org.   


About the National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org. For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit www.parksandrecreation.org.