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Feature Article - July 2017

Slow and Steady

Our 10th Annual Salary Survey

By Emily Tipping


Career Paths

Not surprisingly, given their career achievements, the majority of respondents to the survey were better educated than the U.S. population as a whole. According to the Lumina Foundation, 40.4 percent of working-age Americans had at least a two-year degree in 2014, the most recent year for which data is available. This compares with 86 percent of survey respondents. Some 45.6 percent said they had earned a bachelor's degree, while 30.8 percent had earned a master's, 6.5 percent had earned an associate's degree, and 3.1 percent had earned an advanced degree or Ph.D. Some 11.5 percent said they had attended college but without completing a degree. Finally, just 2.5 percent said they had earned only a high school diploma.

On average, respondents have been working in their current position for 11.3 years. Some 44.6 percent of respondents said they had been in their current position for at least 10 years, with 17.7 percent indicating they'd been in their current job for 20 years or more. Just over a fifth (20.3 percent) said they'd been in their current position between five and nine years, and 35 percent have been in their current jobs for less than five years. (See Figure 2.)

On average, respondents have been working in the recreation, sports and fitness industry for 21.7 years. More than half (55.7 percent) said they had been working in the industry for at least 20 years, and 24.9 percent have been in the industry for 30 years or more. Those with less than 10 years of industry experience make up 17.1 percent of the survey population. (See Figure 3.)

Let's Talk Money

Last year's salary survey showed a 2.6 increase in the average salary over 2015. In 2017, the average salary was up 1.6 percent from 2016, to $68,400.

There was a slight increase to the percentage of respondents who said they earned more than $100,000, from 12.1 percent in 2016 to 13 percent in 2017. The percentage of respondents who said they earned a salary between $50,000 and $100,000 held fairly steady, falling slightly from 57.9 percent in 2016 to 57.5 percent in 2017. The percentage of respondents earning less than $50,000 fell slightly, from 30 percent in 2016 to 29.6 percent in 2017. (See Figure 4.)


While overall, respondents saw a 1.6 percent increase in their average salary, some industry segments saw greater increases. The sharpest increase was seen among respondents from resorts and resort hotels, who saw an increase of 24.9 percent from 2016 to 2017. They were followed by YMCAs, with a 9.7 percent increase, health clubs (8.2 percent), golf and country clubs (6.1 percent), schools and school districts (3.4 percent), and parks (1.5 percent). (See Figure 5.)