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Become A Recreation Leader

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Working As A Recreation Leader

  • 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

  • $26,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Recreation Leader 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 Recreation Leader

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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Recreation Leader Career Paths

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Recreation Leader Demographics

Gender

Female

57.2%

Male

40.4%

Unknown

2.4%
Ethnicity

White

52.1%

Hispanic or Latino

27.0%

Black or African American

9.1%

Asian

7.5%

Unknown

4.3%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

80.3%

French

3.4%

Cantonese

2.4%

Mandarin

1.9%

Chinese

1.5%

German

1.5%

Arabic

1.5%

Hmong

1.0%

Italian

1.0%

Portuguese

1.0%

Swahili

0.7%

Russian

0.7%

Vietnamese

0.5%

Hindi

0.5%

Armenian

0.5%

Thai

0.5%

Greek

0.5%

Somali

0.2%

Korean

0.2%

Hawaiian

0.2%
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Recreation Leader Education

Schools

San Jose State University

6.6%

Arizona State University

6.6%

University of Phoenix

6.5%

California State University - Sacramento

6.2%

California State University - Long Beach

6.1%

California State University - Chico

5.3%

Cerritos College

5.3%

Humboldt State University

5.2%

Central New Mexico Community College

5.2%

California State University - East Bay

5.1%

San Diego State University

5.1%

San Francisco State University

4.5%

California State University - Northridge

4.5%

California State University - Fullerton

4.3%

Florida International University

4.3%

California State University - Dominguez Hills

4.0%

Northern Arizona University

3.9%

Modesto Junior College

3.8%

University of New Mexico

3.8%

Southern Illinois University Carbondale

3.6%
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Majors

Business

15.1%

Kinesiology

10.2%

Psychology

10.1%

Criminal Justice

6.6%

Recreation Management

6.4%

Communication

6.2%

Sociology

5.3%

Liberal Arts

4.3%

Human Development

4.1%

Education

3.8%

Health Education

3.6%

Nursing

3.5%

Social Work

3.3%

Elementary Education

3.2%

English

2.6%

Management

2.6%

Accounting

2.5%

General Studies

2.3%

Health Care Administration

2.3%

Rehabilitation Science

2.2%
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Degrees

Bachelors

48.2%

Other

24.3%

Masters

12.4%

Associate

10.0%

Certificate

3.5%

Diploma

0.8%

Doctorate

0.5%

License

0.2%
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Real Recreation Leader Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Recreation Leader Paul Turner's Ultimate Soccer Academy, Inc. MA Mar 01, 2011 $29,030
Recreation Leader The Noga Company LLC DBA Noga Soccer CT Apr 01, 2011 $28,091
Recreation Leader Aspen Skiing Company CO Nov 15, 2012 $24,167
Recreation Leader Earth Trek Expeditions, Inc. CA Apr 15, 2012 $21,914
Recreation Leader Earth Trek Expeditions, Inc. CA Apr 15, 2011 $21,788
Recreation Leader Challenger Sports Corp. DBA Soccer Player Training CO Apr 01, 2012 $19,472

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AVERAGE SALARY FOR A Recreation Leader

Average Yearly Salary
$26,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$14,000
Min 10%
$26,000
Median 50%
$26,000
Median 50%
$26,000
Median 50%
$26,000
Median 50%
$26,000
Median 50%
$26,000
Median 50%
$26,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Aspen Snowmass
Highest Paying City
Pacifica, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
2.3 years
How much does a Recreation Leader make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Recreation Leader in the United States is $26,428 per year or $13 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $14,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $46,000.

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Top Skills for A Recreation Leader

  1. Recreational Activities
  2. Special Events
  3. Homework Assignments
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Have considerable knowledge and ability to program age appropriate recreational activities.
  • Assist with the set-up and take down of tables, chairs, and equipment for all facility activities and special events.
  • Assisted age appropriate participants on homework assignments, organized sports and other programmed activities.
  • Delivered outstanding customer service, answering questions regarding facilities and availability.
  • Communicated openly with children's parents about daily activities and behaviors.

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Top 10 Best States for Recreation Leaders

  1. New York
  2. Alaska
  3. Maine
  4. New Hampshire
  5. Massachusetts
  6. District of Columbia
  7. Minnesota
  8. Montana
  9. South Dakota
  10. Washington
  • (345 jobs)
  • (7 jobs)
  • (17 jobs)
  • (26 jobs)
  • (172 jobs)
  • (21 jobs)
  • (91 jobs)
  • (22 jobs)
  • (7 jobs)
  • (99 jobs)

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