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Become A Program Lead

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Working As A Program Lead

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • $70,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Program Lead Do

Recreation workers design and lead recreational and 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, dance, sports, adventure programs, music, and camping.

Duties

Recreation workers typically do the following:

  • Plan, organize, and lead activities for groups or recreation centers
  • Explain the rules of activities and instruct participants at a variety of skill levels
  • Enforce safety rules to prevent injury
  • Modify activities to suit the needs of specific groups, such as seniors
  • Administer basic first aid if needed
  • Organize and set up the equipment that is used in recreational activities

The specific responsibilities of recreation workers vary greatly with their job title, their level of training, and the state they work in. The following are examples of types of recreation workers:

Activity specialists provide instruction and coaching primarily in one activity, such as dance, swimming, or tennis. These workers may work in camps, aquatic centers, or anywhere else where there is interest in a single activity.

Recreation leaders are responsible for a recreation program’s daily operation. They primarily organize and direct participants, schedule the use of facilities, set up and keep records of equipment use, and ensure that recreation facilities and equipment are used and maintained properly. They may lead classes and provide instruction in a recreational activity, such as kayaking or golf.

Camp counselors work directly with youths in residential (overnight) or day camps. They often lead and instruct children and teenagers in a variety of outdoor activities, such as swimming, hiking, horseback riding, or nature study. Counselors also provide guidance and supervise daily living and socialization. Some counselors may specialize in a specific activity, such as archery, boating, music, drama, or gymnastics.

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How To Become A Program Lead

Education and training requirements for recreation workers vary with the type of job, but workers typically need at least a high school diploma or the equivalent and receive on-the-job training.

Education and Training

Recreation workers typically need at least a high school diploma or the equivalent. Many receive on-the-job training that typically lasts less than a month.

Entry-level educational requirements vary with the type of position. For example, an activity leader position working with the elderly will have different requirements than a position as a summer camp counselor working with children.

Some positions may require a bachelor’s degree or college coursework. In 2014, the Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism, and Related Professions, a branch of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), accredited 80 bachelor’s degree programs in recreation or leisure studies. A bachelor’s degree in other subjects, such as liberal arts or public administration, may also qualify applicants for some positions.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Recreation workers must be able to communicate well. They often work with large groups of people and need to give clear instructions, motivate participants, and maintain order and safety.

Flexibility. Recreation workers must be flexible when planning activities. They must be able to adapt plans to suit changing environmental conditions and participants’ needs.

Leadership skills. Recreation workers should be able to lead both large and small groups. They often lead activities for people of all ages and abilities.

Physical strength. Recreation workers need to be physically fit. Their job may require a considerable amount of movement because they often demonstrate activities while explaining them.

Problem-solving skills. Recreation workers need strong problem-solving skills. They must be able to create and reinvent activities and programs for all types of participants.

For recreation workers who generally work part time, such as camp counselors and activity specialists, certain qualities may be more important than education. These qualities include a worker’s experience leading activities, the ability to work well with children or the elderly, and the ability to ensure the safety of participants.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

The NRPA offers four certifications for recreation workers:

  • Certified Parks and Recreation Professional (CPRP)
  • Certified Parks and Recreation Executive (CPRE)
  • Aquatic Facility Operator (AFO)
  • Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI)

Applicants may qualify for certification with different combinations of education and work experience. They also must take continuing education classes to maintain their certification.

The American Camp Association offers four certificates for various levels of camp staff, from Entry-Level Staff Certificate to Camp Director Certificate. Individuals who complete online courses may show their advanced level of knowledge of core competencies.

Some recreation jobs require other kinds of certification. For example, a lifesaving certificate is often required for teaching or coaching water-related activities. These certifications are available from organizations such as the YMCA or the American Red Cross. Specific requirements vary by job and employer.

Advancement

As workers gain experience, they may be promoted to positions with greater responsibilities. Recreation workers with experience and managerial skills may advance to supervisory or managerial positions. Eventually, they may become directors of a recreation department or may start their own recreation company.

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Program Lead Demographics

Gender

Female

52.1%

Male

35.5%

Unknown

12.4%
Ethnicity

White

56.1%

Hispanic or Latino

21.0%

Black or African American

9.4%

Asian

9.3%

Unknown

4.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

66.1%

French

6.7%

Mandarin

3.9%

Chinese

3.9%

German

2.5%

Arabic

2.3%

Vietnamese

2.0%

Portuguese

1.8%

Japanese

1.7%

Cantonese

1.4%

Italian

1.3%

Hmong

1.1%

Hindi

1.1%

Korean

1.1%

Russian

0.8%

Tagalog

0.8%

Greek

0.5%

Somali

0.3%

Hebrew

0.3%

Thai

0.3%
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Program Lead Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

13.4%

California State University - Dominguez Hills

6.4%

San Francisco State University

6.1%

California State University - San Bernardino

6.1%

California State University - Long Beach

6.1%

California State University - Los Angeles

5.9%

California State University - Fullerton

5.5%

University of California - Riverside

5.1%

University of California - Irvine

4.5%

Michigan State University

4.3%

College of the Sequoias

4.2%

Long Beach City College

4.1%

San Jose State University

3.9%

Ohio State University

3.8%

Arizona State University

3.6%

Kansas State University

3.4%

California State University - Sacramento

3.4%

San Diego State University

3.4%

California State University - East Bay

3.3%

University of California - Davis

3.3%
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Majors

Business

18.7%

Psychology

12.1%

Sociology

5.5%

Criminal Justice

5.3%

Human Development

5.0%

Communication

4.9%

Education

4.9%

Social Work

4.7%

Liberal Arts

4.5%

Elementary Education

4.2%

Management

3.5%

Kinesiology

3.5%

English

3.2%

Political Science

3.2%

Nursing

3.1%

Early Childhood Education

3.1%

Biology

2.8%

Computer Science

2.8%

Marketing

2.8%

Human Services

2.4%
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Degrees

Bachelors

47.6%

Masters

21.9%

Other

17.0%

Associate

7.5%

Certificate

2.8%

Doctorate

2.5%

Diploma

0.5%

License

0.2%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$70,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$35,000
Min 10%
$70,000
Median 50%
$70,000
Median 50%
$70,000
Median 50%
$70,000
Median 50%
$70,000
Median 50%
$70,000
Median 50%
$70,000
Median 50%
$141,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
BP America
Highest Paying City
Redmond, WA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
2.0 years
How much does a Program Lead make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Program Lead in the United States is $71,000 per year or $34 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $35,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $141,000.

Real Program Lead Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Program Lead Accenture LLP San Francisco, CA Feb 18, 2014 $187,365
Program Lead, Marketing Partnerships Program Facebook, Inc. Menlo Park, CA Apr 20, 2015 $165,000
Program Lead, Marketing Partnerships Program Facebook, Inc. Menlo Park, CA Apr 25, 2016 $165,000 -
$185,000
Program Lead Citigroup Technology, Inc. Warren, NJ Aug 01, 2014 $153,000
Offline Programming Engineering Lead Electroimpact, Inc. Mukilteo, WA Jan 12, 2015 $151,798
Emerging Partnerships Lead, US-PMP Program KIK Us Inc. New York, NY Nov 24, 2014 $150,000 -
$225,000
Emerging Partnerships Lead, US-PMP Program KIK Us Inc. New York, NY Dec 01, 2014 $150,000 -
$225,000
S/W Implementation Program Lead Comverse, Inc. Mount Laurel, NJ Jan 27, 2016 $141,731
Program Lead Citigroup Technology, Inc. New York, NY Oct 31, 2014 $140,000
Offline Program Engineering Lead Electroimpact, Inc. Mukilteo, WA Mar 01, 2014 $139,360
Program Lead Google Inc. Mountain View, CA Mar 23, 2016 $135,000
Technical Program Lead (Operations) Apple Inc. Cupertino, CA Jul 07, 2016 $133,968 -
$168,200
Program Lead Iforward Solutions LLC Houston, TX Nov 01, 2013 $130,000
Program Lead Iforward Solutions LLC Redmond, WA Mar 11, 2013 $130,000
Application Program Lead United Guaranty Corporation Greensboro, NC Mar 10, 2016 $118,000
Program Leader, Innovation Efforts, Composite Solu Owens Corning Science & Technology, LLC Granville, OH Aug 04, 2014 $116,133
Dmts-System Analysis and Programs (Lead System Consultant) Verizon Telematics Inc. Atlanta, GA Nov 20, 2015 $115,589
Program Leader Owens Corning Science and Technology, LLC Granville, OH Aug 06, 2015 $115,000
Intra-Oral Dental Program Lead Teledyne Rad-Icon Imaging Santa Clara, CA Apr 12, 2015 $114,455
Program Lead Citigroup Technology, Inc. Warren, NJ Jan 27, 2016 $112,500
Applications Program Lead United Guaranty Corporation Greensboro, NC Aug 08, 2014 $112,000
Engineering Program Leader General Electric Company-Infrastructure Schenectady, NY Oct 01, 2015 $102,000
Program Lead Veryday Inc. New York, NY Sep 11, 2015 $102,000 -
$160,000
Program Lead Biztech Solutions Inc. Redmond, WA Mar 14, 2013 $101,379
Program Lead Biztech Solutions Inc. Redmond, WA Feb 28, 2013 $101,379
Program Lead, Utility Economics Intertek USA Inc., DBA Intertek Caleb Brett Sunnyvale, CA Jan 04, 2013 $100,984
NPI Program Lead Philips Medical Systems (Cleveland), Inc. Cleveland, OH Apr 10, 2016 $100,040
AM Warranty Program Leader General Electric Company Waukesha, WI Aug 15, 2016 $100,000 -
$110,000
Application Program Lead United Guaranty Corporation Greensboro, NC Aug 30, 2013 $100,000

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Top Skills for A Program Lead

  1. Homework Assignments
  2. Lesson Plans
  3. Procedures
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provide tutoring to students during after-school activities; assist students in completing homework assignments; and other educational projects.
  • Prepare weekly-customized lesson plans and creative bulletin board displays and demonstrations for daily educational projects.
  • Drafted, updated and reviewed processes and procedures to support business and regulatory agency requirements.
  • Show students to participate in a number of enrichment activities that promote character development and social responsibility.
  • Provided homework assistance, academic enrichment activities, and supervised physical activity of a group of approximately 20 students.

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Top 10 Best States for Program Leads

  1. District of Columbia
  2. Washington
  3. Alaska
  4. New York
  5. Minnesota
  6. California
  7. New Hampshire
  8. North Dakota
  9. Massachusetts
  10. Oregon
  • (231 jobs)
  • (579 jobs)
  • (16 jobs)
  • (515 jobs)
  • (280 jobs)
  • (1,557 jobs)
  • (53 jobs)
  • (18 jobs)
  • (440 jobs)
  • (107 jobs)

Top Program Lead Employers

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