Feature Article - July 2015
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Hold Steady

Our Eighth Annual Salary Survey

By Emily Tipping


The biggest decreases were found among YMCA respondents, who reported a drop of 12 percent to their average salary in 2015. Other groups of respondents who saw a larger drop than the across-the-board average of 2.7 percent include resorts and resort hotels (decrease of 8.4 percent); community recreation and sports centers (8.2 percent); schools and school districts (5.2 percent); camps (4.7 percent); and health clubs (3 percent).

When salaries are considered by region, the highest earners continue to be found in the Northeast, while the lowest earnings are found in the Midwest. There was no region that beat the odds to report an increase to average salaries from 2014 to 2015. Just as the highest salaries are found in the Northeast, the largest decrease was found among Northeastern respondents, who reported a 5.8 percent drop in their average salary. They were followed by the Midwest, with a drop of 3.4 percent. Slightly more modest decreases were found among respondents in the West (with a 1.6 percent decrease) and South (0.9 percent). (See Figure 7.)

While respondents who are chairman, CEO, president, vice president or owner of their organizations earned the highest salary in 2015, they also reported the greatest decrease to average salary from 2014 to 2015, with a drop of 15.7 percent. Program and activity administrators reported the second biggest decrease, of 5 percent. Those in operations and facility management reported a 1.2 percent decrease to average salary. Increases were seen among those in administration management (an increase of 5.3 percent), as well as those who hold the title of director (3 percent increase). (See Figure 8.)


Generally speaking, the better educated you are, the better your earnings, and this industry is no exception. Those with advanced degrees or Ph.D.s reported the highest average salary, of $82,500, which represents an increase for these earners of 2.1 percent from 2014. Those with master's degrees earned an average of $76,800 in 2015, a decrease of 3.2 percent. Respondents with a bachelor's degree earned an average of $68,400 in 2015, a decrease of 1 percent. (See Figure 9.)