Feature Article - July 2011
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Money & Happiness

Our Fourth Annual Salary Survey

By Emily Tipping


Who Are You?

This year's average respondent is little different from last year's average respondent. If you take the overall numbers and crunch them into a single person, you have a white 49.7-year-old man with a bachelor's degree and 21.4 years of experience working in the industry, with 11.4 years in his current position as a director of a parks and recreation organization in Midwestern suburbia.

The actual respondents, of course, are more diverse than this would suggest, with a wide array of experiences, levels of education, job titles and more.

The largest group of respondents, 29.1 percent, were from the Midwest. They were followed by the West (21.7 percent), South Atlantic (18.4 percent), Northeast (17.2 percent), and South Central (13.3 percent) regions. Just 0.4 percent of respondents said they were from a country other than the United States.

Respondents also were most likely to report in from suburban areas, with 40.8 percent of the response coming from these types of communities. Nearly a third (32.8 percent) were from rural communities, and more than a quarter (26.4 percent) were from urban areas.

Nearly two-thirds (64.5 percent) of respondents said they worked for public organizations. Another fifth (20.8 percent) were with private nonprofits, and 13.1 percent were working for private for-profit facilities.

As in years past, parks and recreation was most heavily represented, with 37 percent of the response. Another 16.5 percent were from colleges and universities. Some 7.7 percent were from campgrounds, RV parks or private/youth camps; 7.4 percent were from schools and school districts; and 7.4 percent were from community or private recreation or sports centers. Another 6.1 percent worked for YMCAs, YWCAs, JCCs or Boys & Girls Clubs: and 3.6 percent were with sports, health or fitness clubs. Smaller numbers said they worked for resorts or resort hotels (2.5 percent), golf/country clubs (2.2 percent), military installations (1.5 percent), waterparks, amusement parks or theme parks (1.9 percent), ice rinks (0.5 percent), racquet/tennis clubs (0.4 percent), corporate recreation or sports centers (0.3 percent), or stadiums, arenas and tracks (0.3 percent).

Men made up the majority of respondents, with about two-thirds (66.1 percent) of responses coming from men. Just over a third (33.9 percent) were women.

The largest group of respondents (41.3 percent) indicated that they are currently between 50 and 59 years old. They were followed by those aged 40 to 49 (25.6 percent), 30 to 39 (12.4 percent), 60 to 65 (12 percent), 20 to 29 (4.8 percent), and older than 65 (4 percent).

Looking at ethnicity, an overwhelming majority of respondents were white, with 90.6 percent of the response. Much smaller groups were of other ethnicities, with 3 percent black, 2.6 percent Hispanic, 1 percent Asian or Pacific Islanders and 0.6 percent American Indian or Alaskan Native.

Job titles changed little from the 2010 survey. More than one-third (34.7 percent) of respondents said they were directors. Another 19.7 percent were in administration/management positions such as administrator, manager or superintendent. Some 15.6 percent were in operations/facility management positions such as operations manager, facility manager, building manager or supervisor. More than one in 10 (11.1 percent) were chairman, CEO, president, vice president or owner at their organization. Slightly fewer (10.7 percent) were in program and activity administration, with job titles such as program director, manager, coordinator, specialist, coach or instructor. Finally, just 1 percent said they were in services positions such as planner, designer, architect and consultant. A full 7.2 percent listed their job title as something other than one of these categories. (See Figure 1.)

The job titles respondents gave tend to differ according to the type of facility where they work. For example, respondents from parks, colleges, schools, YMCAs and community centers were most likely to report that they were directors. Around 44.8 percent of college respondents were directors, and 38.5 percent of parks respondents had this job title. Administration management titles were most popular among parks respondents, where more than a quarter (25.2 percent) said they had this job title, while operations and facility management tiles were most common for respondents from schools and school districts, where 23.8 percent had this title. Respondents from health clubs were more likely than others to be the CEO, chairman, president, vice president or owner of their organizations.