Why Should You Become a Park and Recreation Professional? 

The park and recreation profession offers diverse job opportunities throughout the country. Whether you are working in an office or out in the field, a career in park and recreation means enhancing the quality of life for all people through advancing environmental conservation efforts, social equity, and health and wellness. Going to a job you love every day is something everyone wants. If you have a passion for being outdoors, helping people, and bettering your community, you may want to consider a career in this field.

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Ten Typical Park and Recreation Agency Position Salaries

  Base Salary on
January 1, 2019
Base Salary on
January 1, 2018
Park and Recreation Agency Director $100,250 $95,000 +3.0%
Planning Director $78,052 $77,000 +2.5%
Director of Finance $85,000 $80,388 +3.4%
Recreation Director $78,250 $76,000 +3.2%
Park Operations Director $72,500 $68,000 +3.1%
Park Operations $55,000 $53,625 +3.1%
Facility Manager $57,434 $54,433 +3.0%
Athletics Supervisor $54,152 $52,000 +3.0%
Aquatics Supervisor $51,500 $47,600 +3.0%
Recreation Program Coordinator $48,141 $46,194 +3.0%

Explore NRPA's Park and Recreation Salary Survey.


Interested in Pursuing a Degree in the Park and Recreation Field?

Undergraduate majors include (but not limited to):

  • Park and Resource Management
  • Recreation and Park Administration – Recreation Management
  • Recreation and Park Administration – Therapeutic Recreation
  • Community Sports Management
  • Tourism Development and Management
  • Nonprofit Leadership and Management
  • Wildlife and Outdoor Enterprise Management

Graduate degrees include (but not limited to):

  • Masters in Recreation and Tourism
  • Park and Resource Management
  • Environmental Education
  • Master of Advanced Study in Sustainable Tourism
  • Master of Science in Community Resources and Development

The Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions (COAPRT) recognizes academic programs in colleges and universities that prepare new professionals to enter the parks, recreation, tourism and related professions. Find COAPRT accredited universities and colleges that offer the undergrad or graduate degree you need!

Career Profiles

If you are interested in a career in the field, learn what it's like to be a park and recreation professional.

Member Spotlight: Jende Smith, CPRP, AFO

2019 December NRPA Update Member Spotlight Jende Smith 410

Parks & Recreation recently spoke with Smith to learn about her career in aquatics and how she keeps up with the field.

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Member Spotlight: Katy Keller, CPRP, AFO

2019 November NRPAUpdate Member Spotlight Katy Keller 410

Keller helped to launch a new agency and to develop more than 200 acres of parkland.

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Member Spotlight: Rafael Payan, Ph.D.

2019 October NRPA Update Member Spotlight Dr Rafael Payan 410

Get to know Dr. Payan, general manager of Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District.

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Member Spotlight: Denise Johnson-Caldwell

2019 September NRPA Update Member Spotlight Denise Johnson Caldwell 410

Johnson-Caldwell shares about her role as a design planner for Baltimore City Recreation and Parks.

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Member Spotlight: Attiyya Atkins

August 2019 NRPA Update Member Spotlight Attiyya Atkins 410

Meet Attiyya Atkins, public communications specialist for Broward County Parks in Florida.

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Member Spotlight: Jodi Ackerman

2019 July Member Spotlight Jodi Ackerman 410 2

Ackerman is the community center programmer for Lansing, Michigan Parks and Recreation.

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Member Spotlight: Molly Lanphier

2019 June NRPA Update Member Spotlight Molly Lanphier 410

Read our interview with Molly Lanphier, community outreach director for Anchorage Park Foundation in Alaska.

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Member Spotlight: Nichole Bohner

2019 May NRPA Update Member Spotlight Nichole Bohner 410

Read our interview with Nichole Bohner, the Aquatics Division manager for the city of Round Rock, Texas.

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Member Spotlight: David Mayer

2019 April Member Spotlight David Mayer 410

An interview with David Mayer, Operations Director for Bismarck Parks & Recreation District.

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Member Spotlight: Seth Hendler-Voss

2019 March NRPA Update Member Spotlight Seth Hendler 410

An interview with the Director of parks, recreation and tourism for Prince William County, Virginia.

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Member Spotlight: Patti Machado

2019 February NRPA Update Member Spotlight Patti Machado 410

Patti Machado of the Town of Barnstable, MA shares her passion for her hometown and the launch of a free afterschool program at their youth center.

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Member Spotlight: Karla Kelley, CPRE

2019 January NRPA Update Member Spotlight Karla Kelley 410

Karla Kelley serves as the regional manager for DC Department of Parks and Recreation. Find out what makes her job rewarding and her wish for the new year.

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News Stories

12.5.19Top Story

NYC parks and rec now in charge of Hart Island cemetery

12.5.19Around the Country

Wash. city to move homeless from park tents to tiny houses

12.5.19Around the Country

Denver reiterates plans to cull Canada geese