2020-2021 Salary Trends for Park and Recreation Professionals Now Available

(June 23, 2021)

Survey data derived by park and recreation agencies nationwide

A new report by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) highlights salary and bonus data for 10 typical park and recreation professional positions, including agency director, planning director, finance director, recreation director and park operations director, among others. The data in the survey report includes detailed comparisons based on agency size, type and certain demographic characteristics of incumbents in the positions (e.g., education, certifications and years in the profession).

Based on the responses from nearly 450 park and recreation agencies, the 2021 NRPA Park and Recreation Salary Survey finds:

  • Salaries are typically higher for those with greater professional experience, higher education attainment and professional certifications, such as NRPA’s Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) and Certified Park and Recreation Executive (CPRE) certifications
  • Park and recreation agencies typically cover 85 percent of their full-time employees’ health insurance premiums
  • Seventy-seven percent of park and recreation agencies offer their full-time employees a defined benefit retirement plan
  • Sixty-eight percent of agencies offer their full-time employees a defined contribution retirement plan

The report also identifies median 2020-2021 salary increases for each of the 10 job titles — spanning between +0.1 percent and +3.6 percent — and that new highly park and recreation professionals typically have median of 10 annual vacation days.

“Park and recreation services are essential, and the professionals who provide these services should be compensated fairly,” said Kevin Roth, NRPA vice president of research, evaluation and technology. “NRPA encourages park and recreation leaders to use the information from this report to develop competitive compensation packages for their existing staff and to attract skilled new park and recreation professionals.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, there were more than 165,000 full-time employees of local park and recreation agencies in the United States. These individuals provide opportunities for people of all ages to experience the benefits of parks and recreation, including greater access to nature and the outdoors, and health and wellness programs that improve the health of communities overall.

To access all the survey resources, visit 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 (NRPA) is the leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to building strong, vibrant and resilient communities through the power of parks and recreation. With more than 60,000 members, NRPA advances this mission by investing in and championing the work of park and recreation professionals and advocates — the catalysts for positive change in service of equity, climate-readiness, and overall health and well-being. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org. For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit www.parksandrecreation.org.