What does the park and recreation profession entail? 

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.

Some examples of careers in the field are: 

Recreation Program Supervisor; Park Manager; Senior Center Coordinator; Outdoor Recreation Planner; Health and Wellness Instructor; Field Instructor;  Parks and Recreation Director; Camp Supervisor; Natural Resources Superintendent; Outdoor Educator Instructor; Cultural Arts Manager; Golf Course Manager; Aquatics Director

Recreation workers design and lead leisure activities for groups in volunteer agencies or recreation facilities, such as playgrounds, parks, camps, aquatic centers, and senior centers. They may lead activities such as arts and crafts, sports, adventure programs, music, and camping.

Groundskeepers in parks and recreation facilities care for lawns, trees, and shrubs; maintain playgrounds; clean buildings; and keep parking lots, picnic areas, and other public spaces free of litter. They also may erect and dismantle snow fences, and maintain swimming pools. These workers inspect buildings and equipment, make needed repairs, and keep everything freshly painted. 

Urban and regional planners identify community needs and develop short- and long-term plans to create, grow, and revitalize communities and areas. For example, planners examine plans for proposed facilities, such as schools, to ensure that these facilities will meet the needs of a changing population.Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, [11/14/2014] [www.bls.gov/oes/].

The average park and recreation agency employs four executive personnel, seven administrative personnel, 24 operations personnel, 21 programming personnel, 36 maintenance personnel, and three planning/development personnel. 


The median salary of park and recreation full-time employee (according to PRORAGIS):

Department's top executives and related staff   $79,332
Administrative (HR, finance, accounting)   $49,147
Operations (staffing and operating facilities)   $51,509
Programs (programming classes & all events)   $51,500
Maintenance (maintain buildings, ground structures & fleet)   $45,458
Planning & Development (acquisition, planning, design, development, etc)   $68,923


Interested in pursuing a degree in the park and recreation field?

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. Click here to search which COAPRT accredited universities and colleges are offering the undergrad or graduate degree you need! 

RebeccaI attend Old Dominion University majoring in Parks, Recreation and Tourism studies with an emphasis in Parks and Recreation Management. I chose this major because I love working with the public as well as being outdoors and adventurous. This past summer, I was a park ranger on the Boston Harbor Islands and can’t explain how much of a blast it was seeing the smiles I brought on to childrens and adults faces.  Gaining the education helped me plan, program and successfully lead. - Rebecca Lackey, student & NRPA Member


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


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