Feature Article - June 2018
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2018 State of the Managed Recreation Industry

A Look At What's Happening in Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facilities

By Emily Tipping


Schools and school districts have the largest number of full-time workers, with an average of 67.5. They were followed by colleges, with 36.1, and health clubs, with 22.6. Camps had the smallest number of full-time employees, with an average of 8.6.

Ys employ the most part-time workers, with an average of 94.8. They were followed by colleges and universities, with 74.4, and health clubs, with 46.6.

The greatest number of seasonal employees are employed by parks. On average, park respondents said they employ 57.8 seasonal employees. They were followed by Ys (46) and camps (45.2).

Finally, as usual, volunteers are most common among Ys, where respondents employ 86.1 volunteers on average. They were followed by camps, with 54, and parks, with 53.4 volunteers, on average.

Over the past four years, the percentage of respondents who report that they are planning to add more staff has hovered around 20 percent. In 2018, more than three-quarters (77.7 percent) of respondents said they plan to maintain existing staff levels, up from 75 percent in 2017. At the same time, the percentage who plan to cut staff fell from 4.1 percent to 2.7 percent. (See Figure 20.)


On average, respondents who are planning to add additional staff will be bringing on 25.6 employees in 2018, up from 21 in 2017. Respondents in 2018 are planning to add an average of 4.2 full-time employees, 9.1 part-time employees, 9.6 seasonal employees, 15.8 volunteers, and 0.7 others.

Respondents from health clubs, parks and Ys were the most likely to report that they have plans to add staff in 2018. More than three-quarters (28.8 percent) of health club respondents said they had such plans. They were followed by parks (23.9 percent) and Ys (21 percent). Schools were the least likely to be planning to add staff. Fewer than one in 10 (9.5 percent) respondents from schools said they will be adding staff this year.

Respondents from community centers and colleges were the most likely to have plans to reduce staff, though only a minority said they will do so. Some 4.7 percent of community centers and 4.1 percent of colleges said they will be cutting staff in 2018.

Certifications are a common tool to encourage and measure ongoing professional development and knowledge growth in one's field. Some certifications, such as lifeguard and pesticide application certifications, aim to verify the skill of certain employees to boost safety. Others measure and qualify other types of professional knowledge. A majority of respondents (83.2 percent) said that they do require certification for some staff members, up slightly from 82.9 percent in 2017. Of those who do not currently require any certifications, 20.8 percent indicated that they plan to require it in the future. (See Figure 21.)

Respondents from health clubs and Ys are the most likely to require certification for some of their employees, both now and looking forward. Some 95.5 percent of health clubs currently require certification, and 97 percent plan to require it in the future. And 93.8 percent of Ys currently require certification, while 96.3 percent will require it in the future. (See Figure 22). More than nine out of 10 school respondents (92 percent) also said they currently require certification.