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


As you might expect, those from colleges and universities, as well as schools and school districts were the most likely to have continued their education after receiving a bachelor's degree. Those from health clubs were the most likely not to have completed a college degree: 21 percent of these respondents indicated they were either high school graduates or had attended some college without obtaining a degree.

Certifications represent a way to build knowledge on top of the education received in school, and many of our respondents indicated that they had earned certifications. More than two-thirds of respondents (68.9 percent) indicated that they currently have a CPR/AED/First Aid certification. These types of qualifications are most prominent at health clubs, where a full 84.7 percent said they had earned them. Another 61 percent of respondents indicated they had gone through a background check, led by those at YMCAs, where 79.2 percent had background checks. (See Figure 6.)

Other certifications were less common among all participants, though some were more prominent in certain industry segments. For example, among parks respondents, 27 percent had their Certified Park and Recreation Professional (or CPRP) certification, 12.2 percent were certified in pesticide application and 12.2 percent were certified in playground safety, compared to 13.3 percent, 8.2 percent and 7.1 percent, respectively, of all respondents. At schools, 60.4 percent of respondents had teaching certificates (compared to just 15.6 percent of all respondents), and 50.7 percent were certified as coaches (compared to 19.4 percent of all respondents). At YMCAs, 29.7 percent of respondents were certified lifeguards, and 27.7 percent were certified in aquatic management or pool operations, compared to 17.4 percent and 21.2 percent of all respondents, respectively. At health clubs, 43.1 percent of respondents had a personal training or fitness certification, compared to only 8.9 percent of all respondents. And finally, at camps, 14.2 percent of respondents had climbing certifications, compared to just 3 percent of all respondents.

More than a quarter (28.6 percent) of respondents indicate that they plan to get certified in the next two years. The most commonly planned certification is the CPRP. More than one-third (36.6 percent) of those planning to earn a certification within the next two years are aiming for this credential, and 55 percent of parks respondents who are planning to get certified intend to earn it. Following the CPRP in terms of planned certifications were CPR/AED/First Aid certifications, aquatic management and pool operations certifications, playground safety certifications, and personal training or fitness certifications.