Career Information for a Degree in Recreation Studies

Recreation studies is generally a degree that prepares graduates to work with community members in their pursuit of fitness, rehabilitation and leisurely activities. Continue reading for an overview of the types of programs, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

Essential Information

Recreational degrees focus on leisure and wellness programs for both the individual and community. Courses include health, wellness, aging, motivation, parks & rec programming, law and evaluation. A mandatory internship component is often part of the undergraduate curriculum and places students in community outreach centers, state parks, rehabilitation centers or military bases.

Graduate-level degrees are usually required for those who want to pursue management, director and leadership roles. The curriculum often includes more business courses, such as statistics and human resource management.

Career Recreation and Parks Director Event Planners
Education Requirements Undergraduate degree; Graduate degree may be required for some positions Undergraduate degree preferred
Other Requirements Work experience required Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) Credential preferred
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)* 14% (for all recreation workers) 33%
Median Salary (2013) $54,994** $46,260*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **

Career Options

Recreation studies graduates might find employment in a variety of fields, including parks and recreation, sports, recreational therapy and physical fitness. The BLS notes that candidates who have a graduate degree in the field can expect the best opportunities for managerial positions. Below are several job options in the field.

Director of Recreation and Parks

Information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that directors of recreation and parks set up activity schedules for events happening at community playgrounds, parks and other government-owned communal properties ( Some directors work at the city level, whereas others work for individual counties or for states. Apart from scheduling and coordinating activities, directors often have to hire new staff, train personnel, write-up budgets and determine ways of raising revenue.

The BLS predicts 14% job growth for all recreation workers from 2012-2022, with a median salary of $22,390. As a parks & recreation director, reports a higher median salary of $54,994 because of the additional managerial responsibilities.

Special Events Management

Workers involved in special events management work with clients to plan out events, including weddings, sporting events, ethnic festivals and music concerts. Individual workers within the special events management field are usually called event coordinators or event planners, according to the BLS. These individuals find an appropriate venue and any necessary additional services such as caterers, decorators or photographers. Event planners often coordinate with clients to decide on event marketing and advertising, security protocols and guest transportation.

The BLS predicts 33% job growth for event planners from 2012-2022, with a median salary of $46,260.

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