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 the passion for being outdoors, helping people, and bettering your community, you may want to consider a career in this field.

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Five Typical Park and Recreation Agency Position Salaries

Park and Recreation Agency Director (or Executive Director or Superintendent)   $98,000*
Planning Director (or Superintendent)   $85,290*
Director of Finance (or Business Manager or Director of Administrative)   $83,575*
Recreation Director (or Recreation Superintendent or Assistant Director - Recreation)   $72,000*
Park Operations Director (or Maintenance Director or Maintenance Superintendent)   $70,000*


*Median base salaries as of January 1, 2017. 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 really like to be a park and recreation professional.

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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Member Spotlight: Max Madalinski

2018 July NRPA Update Member Spotlight Max Madalinski 410

Madalinski didn’t anticipate a career in parks and recreation. However, an opening for an associate parks project coordinator eventually, led him to the field he is still enjoying.

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Member Spotlight: Patrick Wesley

2018 June NRPA Update Member Spotlight Patrick Wesley 410

Wesley has devoted his career to parks and recreation, and currently serves as assistant director at Shreveport Public Assembly & Recreation in Louisiana.

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Member Spotlight: Todd Johnson

2018 May NRPA Update Member Spotlight Todd Johnson 410

Manager, Golf Enterprises, at Fairfax County Park Authority in Fairfax, Virginia.

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Member Spotlight: Sabrina Steward

2018 April NRPA Update Member Spotlight Sabrina Steward 410

South Region Area Manager for the Chicago Park District

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Member Spotlight: Sonya Shaw

2018 March NRPA Update Member Spotlight Sonya Shaw 410

Sonya Shaw, director of Garner Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources in North Carolina, has worked her way up the ladder to a leadership position...

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Member Spotlight: Greg Brown

2018 February NRPA Update Member Spotlight Greg Brown 410

Parks Superintendent for the City of Largo Recreation, Parks and Arts Department in Pinellas County, Florida.

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Member Spotlight: Lucky D'Ascanio

2018 January NRPA Update Member Spotlight Lucky DAscanio 410

Lucky D’Ascanio, Falmouth Parks and Community Programs director, in Falmouth, Maine, has worked with providing programming for older adults for more than 20 years.

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Member Spotlight: Calandra Barnes

2017 December NRPA Update Member Spotlight Calandra Barnes 410

Calandra Barnes has been the special events coordinator for Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department in North Carolina for 11 years.

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Member Spotlight: Carol Potter

2017 November NRPA Update Member Spotlight Carol Potter 410

Carol Potter, who recently retired from the Department of Defense (DoD) after more than 33 years, was the assistant director of the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) policy within the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy.

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Member Spotlight: Diane Drake

2017 October NRPAUpdate Member Spotlight Diane Drake 410

Diane Drake, assistant director of evaluation and partnership development for the Recreation and Park Commission for East Baton Rouge (BREC).

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Member Spotlight: Maria Nardi

2017 September NRPA Update Member Spotlight Maria Nardi 410

Maria Nardi, director of Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces

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News Stories

9.20.18Top Story

Competing visions emerge for Dallas river park

9.20.18Around the Country

Foundation proposes $8.5M park by the San Diego River

9.20.18Around the Country

N.C.'s Mount Airy Parks and Recreation named 2018 NRPA Park Champion