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Passionate and dedicated park and recreation professionals transform our cities, towns and counties into vibrant, healthy communities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there were more than 163,000 full-time employees of local park and recreation agencies throughout the United States in 2019, with several hundred thousand more part-time and seasonal workers. It is these skilled teams that program events, maintain facilities and ensure that every member of the community can access and enjoy all that their local park and recreation agencies have to offer.
While the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a significant effect on the labor market, many agencies continue to face a competitive market for skilled employees. Comprehensive compensation data informs park and recreation agency leaders on how to attract the best staff. Such data also can give park and recreation professionals insights about salary and benefits offered by potential employers.
That is where the 2021 NRPA Park and Recreation Salary Survey comes in. This year’s report features compensation data of 10 commonly found positions at park and recreation agencies and details general information about benefits and salary policies.
The 2021 NRPA Park and Recreation Salary Survey report features detailed base salary and bonus data for 10 typical park and recreation agency positions.
Of course, no two park and recreation agencies are exactly alike, and neither are the compensation packages they offer their teams. This report presents compensation data by agency size, type and certain demographic characteristics of incumbents in the positions (e.g., education, certifications and years in the profession). The analysis also examines factors that determine pay raises and bonuses (if offered) and highlights other benefits that comprise the full compensation package for park and recreation professionals.
Compensation is more than just base salaries. Benefits can greatly increase the full financial value of an employee’s remuneration. Employee benefits — including paid vacation and sick leave, maternity/paternity leave, health and dental insurance, and retirement plans — can put thousands of additional dollars into workers’ pockets and improve their standard of living.
Part-time and seasonal workers are essential contributors to park and recreation agencies’ ability to deliver services and amenities to their communities. In many cases, these positions are the first job for young adults entering the workforce. This report examines minimum wage policies, including the percentage of agencies that pay federal minimum wage, match a locality’s and/or state’s minimum wage that is higher than federal, and pay higher than their locality’s and/or state’s minimum wage.
The success of park and recreation agencies would not be possible without the dedication of the tireless professionals who serve these agencies. The ability to make a real difference in their communities is what draws many park and recreation professionals to this work. At the same time, competitive compensation packages — including base salaries and benefits — are critical in attracting and retaining the best employees. Armed with information, such as the compensation data and sample job descriptions presented in the 2021 NRPA Park and Recreation Salary Survey report, park and recreation agencies can recruit and retain highly qualified professionals to ensure that those agencies best serve their communities.
In early summer, the executive summary of the 2021 NRPA Park and Recreation Salary Survey will be available on the NRPA website. The full report, comprehensive salary data, sample job descriptions, sample organization charts and an online discussion group will be available through NRPA Connect.
Melissa May is NRPA’s Senior Research Manager.