Recreation Worker Job Description
Recreation workers develop, organize, lead, and promote activities including sports, music, games, camping, and arts and crafts for groups and individuals.
There are many types of recreation workers, each with their own responsibilities and areas of specialty. Here are a few of the most common types:
Parks and recreation directors develop and maintain recreational programs in playgrounds, parks, and other similar environments. They normally work for the government, and act as advisors to parks commissions when budgets are being set.
Activity specialists specialize in instructing people in a single activity. For example, some activity specialists specialize in music, and may split their time between many different recreational facilities that have a need for their instruction.
Camp counselors work at both day and overnight camps. They provide instruction to children and teenage campers in many different activities, including camping, swimming, and hiking. They are responsible for keeping the campers entertained and safe while under their care.
Camp directors supervise camp counselors, and do all of the things that need to be done to keep the camp running. Paying bills, hiring staff, and promoting the camp are just a few of the responsibilities that camp directors have.
Work Environment and Schedule
Recreation workers work in many different environments, including nursing care facilities, fitness centers, local government agencies, and recreation facilities.
Some recreation workers spend all of their time in an office, where they plan and promote recreational programs. Others spend all of their time working outside, where their working environment is completely subject to the quality of weather on any given day.
In some cases, the work that recreation workers do can be very physically demanding. This is almost never a dangerous occupation, but injuries from participating in sports or other activities do happen sometimes.
The working hours for people in this occupation vary greatly depending on the position. For example, recreation workers who work at a health club may be able to maintain regular working hours, while camp counselors will need to work irregular hours on nights and weekends.
Many recreation workers work full time, but there are many part time and seasonal positions in this occupation as well.
How to Become a Recreation Worker
Most full time recreation workers have a bachelor’s degree, but it’s not always necessary to have one. For some types of jobs, experience, training, and leadership skills are much more important than a formal education.
If you want to get a college degree that will provide you with specialized training, a bachelor’s in leisure studies, parks and recreation, or a related field will help prepare you. These programs provide training in park management, outdoor recreation, camp management, commercial recreation, and recreational program development.
Not all people in this occupation have a specialized degree, though. Recreation workers come from all sorts of academic backgrounds. Any type of liberal arts degree is normally fine for entry level positions.
Many employers require a master’s degree in business administration, parks and recreation, or public administration for their upper management positions. If you have aspirations of moving up the ladder, then it could be worth your while to get a master’s degree.
Part time or seasonal workers like camp counselors rarely need to meet any formal education requirements. They are almost always trained on the job. People in these positions normally do have to pass a criminal background check, though.
Some recreation workers need to have certifications. For example, a camp director may need to have a certifications in CPR, lifesaving, and first aid.
There are currently 339,100 recreation workers in the United States, with 11,860 new recreation worker job openings created each year.
Recreation Worker jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Recreation Worker Salaries
Recreation Worker salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most recreation workers make between $18,400 – $29,200 per year, or $8.85 – $14.05 per hour.