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Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGHkZcUmptk.
Quick Facts: Recreation Workers
2023 Median Pay $34,410 per year
$16.55 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2022 289,400
Job Outlook, 2022-32 5% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2022-32 13,400

What Recreation Workers Do

Recreation workers organize, conduct, and promote a variety of group activities for leisure and other purposes.

Work Environment

Recreation workers are employed in a variety of settings, including recreation centers, parks, and summer camps. Most work full time, but many work part-time, irregular, or seasonal hours.

How to Become a Recreation Worker

Recreation workers typically need at least a high school diploma or the equivalent, although requirements may vary by type of job. Once hired, these workers typically need a short period of on-the-job training.

Pay

The median annual wage for recreation workers was $34,410 in May 2023.

Job Outlook

Employment of recreation workers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 61,700 openings for recreation workers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for recreation workers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of recreation workers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about recreation workers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Recreation Workers Do About this section

Recreation workers
Recreation workers lead groups in activities such as arts and crafts.

Recreation workers organize, conduct, and promote a variety of group activities for leisure and other purposes. Activities may include arts and crafts, sports, or music.

Duties

Recreation workers typically do the following:

  • Organize, conduct, and promote recreational activities
  • Explain the rules of activities and instruct participants at a variety of skill levels
  • Modify activities to suit the needs of specific participants, such as seniors
  • Explain safety procedures to reduce and prevent injuries
  • Administer basic first aid as needed
  • Perform administrative tasks, such as helping participants complete paperwork

Duties of recreation workers vary by job title, level of training, and other factors. For example, camp counselors work directly with youths in overnight or day camps and guide participants in activities and interactions with others.

Recreation workers may specialize in a particular activity, such as swimming, drama, or arts and crafts. They also may organize and promote a number of recreation programs for one or more facilities. Some recreation workers assist others at every phase, such as by setting up equipment, helping participants during activities, and cleaning and maintaining the equipment or facility.

In addition, recreation workers sometimes have office duties. For example, they may assist participants in completing forms or create calendars and newsletters to promote certain activities or programs.

Workers in similar occupations may focus on recreation with a different purpose. For example, entertainment and recreation managers plan and direct activities and operations related to fitness and leisure. Recreational therapists use medical-based activities to treat people with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses. Self-enrichment teachers instruct participants in activities for personal improvement or recreation.

Work Environment About this section

Recreation workers
Activity specialists who teach dance usually provide instruction indoors.

Recreation workers held about 289,400 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of recreation workers were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals 30%
Nursing and residential care facilities 20
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 12
Other amusement and recreation industries 9
Educational services; state, local, and private 9

Recreation workers may spend much of their time outdoors leading activities such as hiking or soccer. Others coordinate indoor activities, such as drama or karate. Workers who plan programs and events may spend much of their time in an office.

Recreation workers may risk injury while participating in physical activities.

Work Schedules

Most recreation workers are full time, but many work part-time, irregular, or seasonal hours. For example, camp counselors may work primarily in the evening or on weekends, or they may be employed only during the summer.

How to Become a Recreation Worker About this section

Recreation workers
Recreation workers maintain order and safety.

Recreation workers typically need at least a high school diploma or the equivalent, although requirements may vary by type of job. Once hired, these workers typically need a short period of on-the-job training.

Education and Training

Recreation workers typically need at least a high school diploma or equivalent to enter the occupation.

Requirements vary based on the type of position. For some jobs, such as organizing after-school programs at a community center, candidates may qualify with a high school diploma and receive training of a month or less after they are hired.

For other positions, such as coordinating activities at a residential care facility, employers may prefer to hire candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in recreation and fitness or a related field. A list of accredited bachelor’s degree programs is available from the Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism, and Related Professions, a branch of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some employers require recreation workers to have certifications such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or first aid. Employers also may require recreation workers to have a valid driver’s license and to pass a background check.

Optional certification for recreation workers is offered by organizations such as the NRPA and the American Camp Association. Eligibility varies based on education and work experience.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Recreation workers must be able to give clear instructions, often to large groups.

Flexibility. Recreation workers must be able to adapt plans and activities to suit changing conditions and participants’ needs.

Interpersonal skills. Recreation workers must be compatible with different types of people, sometimes within a single group.

Leadership skills. Recreation workers should be able to coordinate both large and small groups, as well as groups of varying ages and abilities.

Motivational skills. Recreation workers should be able to inspire participants so that they enjoy activities.

Pay About this section

Recreation Workers

Median annual wages, May 2023

Total, all occupations

$48,060

Recreation workers

$34,410

Personal care and service occupations

$34,260

 

The median annual wage for recreation workers was $34,410 in May 2023. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,040, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $49,690.

In May 2023, the median annual wages for recreation workers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Nursing and residential care facilities $35,570
Educational services; state, local, and private 34,850
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 34,350
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 34,220
Other amusement and recreation industries 30,370

Most recreation workers are full time, but many work part-time, irregular, or seasonal hours. For example, camp counselors may work primarily in the evening or on weekends, or they may be employed only during the summer.

Job Outlook About this section

Recreation Workers

Percent change in employment, projected 2022-32

Personal care and service occupations

6%

Recreation workers

5%

Total, all occupations

3%

 

Employment of recreation workers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 61,700 openings for recreation workers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

An increased emphasis on the importance of lifelong well-being is expected to create demand for recreation workers in a variety of settings, including fitness and recreational sports centers, country clubs, and other organizations. Parks and recreation departments may contract out the services of activity specialists.

In addition, there will be more demand for recreation workers to work with older clients, especially in continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities.

Employment projections data for recreation workers, 2022-32
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2022 Projected Employment, 2032 Change, 2022-32 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Recreation workers

39-9032 289,400 302,700 5 13,400 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.org. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of recreation workers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2023 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Athletic trainers Athletic Trainers

Athletic trainers specialize in preventing, diagnosing, and treating muscle and bone injuries and illnesses.

Master's degree $57,930
Fitness trainers and instructors Fitness Trainers and Instructors

Fitness trainers and instructors lead, instruct, and motivate individuals or groups in exercise activities.

High school diploma or equivalent $46,480
Meeting, convention, and event planners Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

Meeting, convention, and event planners arrange all aspects of events and professional gatherings.

Bachelor's degree $56,920
Recreational therapists Recreational Therapists

Recreational therapists plan, direct, and coordinate recreation-based medical treatment programs for people with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses.

Bachelor's degree $57,120
Rehabilitation counselors Rehabilitation Counselors

Rehabilitation counselors help people with physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities live independently.

Master's degree $44,040
School and Career Counselors School and Career Counselors and Advisors

School counselors help students develop academic and social skills. Career counselors and advisors help people choose a path to employment.

Master's degree $61,710
Exercise Physiologists

Exercise physiologists develop fitness and exercise programs to help people improve their health.

Bachelor's degree $54,860
Athletes and sports competitors Athletes and Sports Competitors

Athletes and sports competitors participate in organized, officiated sporting events to entertain spectators.

No formal educational credential $70,280
Social workers Social Workers

Social workers help people prevent and cope with problems in their everyday lives.

See How to Become One $58,380
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Recreation Workers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/recreation-workers.htm (visited May 27, 2024).

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, April 30, 2024

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2023 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2022

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2022, which is the base year of the 2022-32 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2022-32

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032. The average growth rate for all occupations is 3 percent.

Employment Change, 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

2023 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.