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

Park and Recreation Agency Director (or Executive Director or Superintendent)   $100,000*
Planning Director (or Superintendent)   $88,135*
Director of Finance (or Business Manager or Director of Administrative)   $83,310*
Recreation Director (or Recreation Superintendent or Assistant Director - Recreation)   $77,495*
Park Operations Director (or Maintenance Director or Maintenance Superintendent)   $73,520*
Park Operations Foreman (or Maintenance Foreman)   $54,618*
Facilities Manager   $59,885*
Athletics Supervisor (or Athletics Manager)   $52,452*
Aquatics Supervisor (or Aquatics Manager)   $53,091*
Recreation Programs Coordinator (or Recreation Programs Manager)   $49,500*

*Top-line base salaries as of January 1, 2018. 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: 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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Member Spotlight: Michael Biedenstein, CPRP

2018 December NRPA Update Member Spotlight Michael Biedenstein 410

Find out the most important lesson Michael Biedenstein has learned at St. Louis County Parks and Recreation Department.

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Member Spotlight: Cheryl Michelet

2018 November NRPA Update Member Spotlight 410

Michelet serves as BREC’s director of communications. Learn more about her role at the agency and the importance of social media in its messaging.

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Member Spotlight: Patrick Marron

2018 October NRPA Update Member Spotlight 410

Marron, maintenance supervisor for Helena Parks and Recreation in Montana

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Member Spotlight: Nancy Winzer and Taylor Winzer

2018 September NRPA Update Member Spotlight 410

Nancy Winzer has been with the City of Port Huron Recreation Department since 1993, however, she isn’t the only person in her family. Her daughter, Taylor, also joined the agency.

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Member Spotlight: Patricia Polzin, CPRP

2018 August NRPA Update Member Spotlight 410

Parks & Recreation magazine recently spoke with Polzin, executive director of Crete Park District in Illinois.

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News Stories

7.18.19Top Story

Fiscal imbalance threatens recreation, parks in Portland, Ore.

7.18.19Around the Country

7 children at Conn. camp event hospitalized for dehydration, illness

7.18.19Around the Country

N.J. city's recreation department making "meaningful" changes