Feature Article - July 2009
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Dollars and Sense

Our 2009 Salary Survey of the Managed Recreation, Sports & Fitness Industry

By Emily Tipping


About the Respondents

Who are our respondents? If you take all the numbers and try to translate them into a single person, you'd have a 47 1/2-year-old white male director at a suburban public parks and recreation department in the Midwest, who manages an average of 7.5 facilities, and has been in the industry for nearly 20 years.

But of course, this paints a very narrow picture of what is actually a broad range of professionals working in facilities of all types. Here's a closer look at where our respondents come from, both geographically and in terms of their career paths.

The largest group of respondents, 28.8 percent, comes from Midwestern states. They are followed by the West, represented by 20.3 percent of respondents. The Northeast is represented by 18.6 percent of respondents. This is followed by the South Atlantic states, with 17.8 percent of respondents. Another 13.4 percent are from the South Central region. Finally, 1 percent of respondents indicated they are from outside the U.S. borders.

While the largest group of respondents (40.3 percent) indicated they work in suburban communities, another third (33.5 percent) are from rural areas, and just over a quarter (26.2 percent) work in urban areas.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents (65 percent) work for a public organization. Another 18.6 percent said they work for a private nonprofit organization, and 14.8 percent work for private for-profit organizations.

When it comes to industry segment, there was a wide range of groups represented in our survey. The largest group (40.3 percent) came from parks and recreation departments, but there was also strong representation by respondents from colleges and universities (13.2 percent), community or private recreation or sports centers (7.5 percent), schools and school districts (7.2 percent), campgrounds, and RV parks and youth and private camps (7.1 percent).

More than a third of respondents (34.3 percent) indicated that they are directors. The next largest group—19.7 percent—represent administration or management positions such as administrator, manager or superintendent. They are followed by operations or facility managers, such as operations managers, facility managers, building managers and supervisors, who made up 15.1 percent of the respondents. Program and activity administrators made up 11.8 percent of respondents. These include activity or program directors or managers, coordinators, specialists, coaches and instructors. Those holding the title of chairman, chief executive officer, president, vice president or owner made up 9 percent of the respondents. And just 1 percent were represented by those holding service-related titles like planner, designer, architect or consultant. Another 9.1 percent of respondents indicated they had an "other" title.