Feature Article - July 2015
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Hold Steady

Our Eighth Annual Salary Survey

By Emily Tipping


Respondents from schools were the most likely to report that they had earned certifications of any kind. Some 94 percent of schools respondents had earned certification. They were followed by YMCAs (91.2 percent) and health clubs (90.5 percent).

Respondents from schools were more likely than other respondents to have earned coaching and teaching certifications. Those from YMCAs were more likely than others to have earned aquatic management and pool operations certification, lifeguard certification, or childcare and early childhood education certification. Health club respondents were more likely than others to report that they had earned CPR/AED/First Aid or personal training certifications. Parks respondents were most likely to have earned their Certified Parks and Recreation Professional (CPRP) certification. Some 24.9 percent of parks respondents had done so, compared with just 12.4 percent of all respondents. Park respondents were also more likely than others to have earned their playground safety certification.

Golf facility respondents were more likely than others to report that they had earned their food service, pesticide application and turf/grounds management certification.

Camp respondents were more likely than others to have security/law enforcement or climbing certifications.

Finally, community center respondents were more likely than others to have earned athletic trainer certifications.

Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of respondents said they planned to earn certifications within the next two years. The most commonly planned certifications include:

  1. CPRP (8.9 percent of all respondents have plans to earn this credential, and 17.3 percent of parks respondents will do so)
  2. CPR/AED/First Aid certification (7.3 percent)
  3. Playground safety certification (3.6 percent)
  4. Aquatic management/pool operations (2.8 percent)
  5. Personal training (2.2 percent)

Down to Business

After reporting increases to average salaries for the past few years, this year saw a decrease of 2.7 percent, nearly reversing the increases of the past two years. The average salary for respondents increased by 1 percent from 2013 to 2014, and by 2.6 percent from 2012 to 2014. That said, from 2008 to 2015, the average salary has risen by 6.7 percent.


There was an increase in the percentage of respondents who reported that they earned anywhere from $49,999 and down in 2015. At the same time, there was a decrease in those reporting they earned almost every salary range above $50,000. The exceptions are for those earning $90,000 to $149,000, categories which saw slight increases in 2015. (See Figure 5.)

While there was a 2.7 percent decrease in the average salary for all respondents, some industry segments reported increases. The biggest increase was seen among respondents from military installations, with an increase of 10.8 percent. They were followed by golf facilities, who reported an increase of 2.5 percent, and parks respondents, with an increase of 0.8 percent. (See Figure 6.)