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Feature Article - July 2018

In The Money

Our 11th Annual Salary Survey

By Emily Tipping


The U.S. unemployment rate has continued to drop over the past year, reaching a new low of 3.9 percent in April 2018, its lowest point since the year 2000. Meanwhile, median household income reached an all-time high of $59,039 in 2016, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau. The overall employment outlook is good, and respondents to our Salary Survey continue to be overwhelmingly positive about their careers and continue to report salary increases, overall.

This year, nearly 1,600 professionals working in the recreation, sports and fitness industry responded to the annual Industry Report survey, and the findings are once again positive in terms of salary. Average salaries among survey respondents rose 1.5 percent from 2017 to 2018, and job satisfaction continues to be positive among respondents.

Welcome to the 11th annual Recreation Management Salary Survey. Over the following pages, we'll provide an up-close view of what respondents to the survey reported about their salaries, careers and more.

Who Are You?

Careers in recreation, sports and fitness facility management are wide-ranging, with a diverse cast of characters serving in a myriad of job roles. That said, the "average" respondent to the annual survey is a nearly-50-year-old white male with a bachelor's degree, working as a director of a parks and recreation organization in the Midwestern suburbs, earning $69,420 a year.

Some 31.9 percent of respondents are from the Midwest, the largest region represented in the survey. They were followed by the West (21.4 percent), the Northeast (18 percent), the South Atlantic states (16.5 percent) and the South Central region (12.1 percent). Another 0.1 percent of respondents reported from outside the United States.

Some 43.4 percent of respondents said they are located in suburban communities. More than one-third (35.7 percent) are located in rural areas, and 20.9 percent are found in urban communities.

Nearly two-thirds (65.7 percent) of respondents work for public organizations. Another 19.9 percent said they are with private nonprofit organizations, and 9.3 percent work with private, for-profit facilities. Some 5.1 percent of respondents work for "other" types of organizations.

When it comes to the type of facility respondents work for, the largest number—40.6 percent—said they are with park and recreation districts and departments. Other more common facility types represented by survey respondents include: schools and school districts (12.7 percent); colleges and universities (10.8 percent); community or private recreation and sports centers (6.7 percent); campgrounds, RV parks, and private or youth camps (5.4 percent); YMCAs, YWCAs, JCCs and Boys & Girls Clubs (5.1 percent); and sports, health or fitness clubs and medical fitness facilities (4.2 percent). Other facility types that are home to smaller numbers of respondents include: golf and country clubs (2.3 percent); resorts and resort hotels (1.6 percent); waterparks, theme parks and amusement parks (1.4 percent); racquet or tennis clubs (0.8 percent); homeowners associations (0.6 percent); ice rinks (0.6 percent); military installations (0.5 percent); churches (0.4 percent); corporate recreation or sports centers (0.3 percent); and stadiums, arenas and tracks (0.1 percent). Another 6 percent of respondents said they work for other types of facilities.

The largest age group represented by survey respondents falls between 50 and 59 years. More than one-third (34.6 percent) of respondents said they are between 50 and 59 years old. They were followed by respondents between the ages of 40 and 49 (24.4 percent), 30 and 39 (16.4 percent) and 60 and 64 (15.3 percent). Just 5 percent of respondents said they are 65 or older, and 4.3 percent are 30 or younger.

Some 63.2 percent of respondents are male, and 36.8 percent are female. The survey audience is also predominantly white, with 90.1 percent of respondents identifying as such. Another 4.2 percent are black/non-Hispanic, while 3.3 percent are Hispanic, 1 percent as Asian/Pacific Islanders, 1 percent are Native American or Alaskan Natives, and the rest are of "other" or "unknown" ethnicity.

When it comes to the job titles held by survey respondents, a majority hold leadership positions, as is the case with the readership of Recreation Management. Well over a third (36.1 percent) hold the title of "director." Another 19.7 percent are in administration management, which includes job titles such as administrator, manager or superintendent. Some 18.2 percent of respondents are in operations and facility management, including such titles as operations managers, facility managers, building managers and supervisors. Nearly one in 10 (9.4 percent) are in program and activity administration, including activity or program directors, managers, coordinators, specialists, coaches and instructors. Another 7.3 percent of respondents are the chairman, CEO, vice president or owner of their organizations. Some 2.4 percent are faculty or teachers, and 0.4 percent are in services, which includes planners, designers, architects and consultants. Finally, 6.5 percent said they were in "other," unspecified job roles. (See Figure 1.)


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