Exploring 13 Common Park and Recreation Salaries

By Catherine Tepper | Posted on October 18, 2023

Salary Survey Blog 2

Welcome to our second blog post exploring the 2023 NRPA Park and Recreation Salary Survey report. You can read our first blog post here. Today’s blog post specifically looks at the 13 positions this report highlights. This report outlines the valuable benefits that park and recreation professionals receive, such as health insurance, vacation and sick leave, retirement plans, and more.

Additionally, the report has a section dedicated to the salaries of different positions and how they have changed from year to year. This data can assist park and recreation agency leaders in attracting the best employees, as well as provide job-seekers with information on the financial benefits that may be found in a career in parks and recreation. 

No two park and recreation agencies are alike, and the positions held by park and recreation professionals within their agencies are just as varied. The 2023 NRPA Park and Recreation Salary Survey report dives into 13 of the most commonly found job titles held by full-time professionals. We will touch on the different responsibilities of each of these positions and how their salaries differ and have changed over the years.  

1. Park and Recreation Agency Director (or Executive Director or Superintendent)

The Agency Director is responsible for leading the overall direction and operation of the department. This includes managing the organization's measures that support the achievement of long-term goals, such as monitoring finances, leading employees, developing strategic direction, and fostering relationships with the community. They are responsible for creating the plans, vision and inspiration for the agency in providing high-quality services that align with community needs. The median base salary for an Agency Director is $114,000 and has a median year-to-year percentage change of +4.8 percent (2022 to 2023). 

2. Planning Director

The Planning Director oversees an agency or district’s planning division. This position will be overlooking capital budget, planning and development; land acquisition; land-use planning; project management; as well as the development of park and system master plans. The Planning Director is responsible for conducting research studies and developing reports and plans to meet community needs and desires. The median base salary for a Planning Director is $97,104 and has a median year-to-year percentage change of +4.1 percent (2022 to 2023). 

3. Director of Finance

The Director of Finance is responsible for all areas of business administration. This work includes directing and coordinating administrative areas such as human resources, management analysis, finance and technology. Furthermore, they manage the overall financial system, which involves preparing and overseeing budgets and financial projections in addition to conducting research and analysis to ensure efficient and cost-effective operations. This individual also leads a team of support staff and provides coaching, supervision and feedback. The median base salary for a Director of Finance is $101,234 with a median year-to-year percentage change of +5.5 percent (2022 to 2023). 

4. Recreation Director

The Recreation Director oversees and leads recreation programs, facilities, events and related services. This position is responsible for directing, supervising and evaluating recreation programs, facilities and services, as well as ensuring that these recreational initiatives align with community needs and desires. Recreation Directors have a median base salary of $82,081 with a median year-to-year percentage change of +4.5 percent (2022 to 2023). 

5. Park Operations Director

The Park Operations Director is responsible for providing leadership to the park maintenance division. This individual oversees several operational areas, such as greenways and medians; horticulture; urban forestry; open spaces; trails and fleet management; and lastly park, facility, and athletic field maintenance. The Park Operations Director also provides input and guidance with regard to capital development and implementation, in addition to the development of replacement schedules for vehicles, assets, structures and equipment. Lastly, this position also requires effective and efficient delivery of maintenance services, as well as providing leadership to maintenance personnel with reports. The median base salary of this position is $83,000 and the median year-to-year percentage change is +4.7 percent (2022 to 2023). 

6. Park Operations (or Maintenance Foreman)

Park Operations will typically manage and oversee maintenance crews involved in a variety of activities touching upon park operations. These could include the overlooking of park and athletic field maintenance, open spaces, custodial services, fleet management, horticulture, trails, facility maintenance, urban forestry, and greenways and medians. The Maintenance Foreman may have many of the same responsibilities as the Park Operations Director, but may also be involved in performing actual park maintenance activities. The median base salary for a Maintenance Foreman is $60,000 with a median year-to-year percentage change of +4.8 percent (2022 to 2023). 

7. Facilities Manager

Facilities Managers are responsible for managing a specific facility, such as a community center or an indoor/outdoor sports facility. This position requires that all aspects of the facility’s operations are overseen and supervised, including programs and services, safety, security and technology systems, facility staff, and the facility’s budget. The Facilities Manager has a median base salary of $68,385 with a median year-to-year percentage change of +5.2 percent (2022 to 2023). 

8. Athletics Supervisor

The Athletics Supervisor is responsible for supervising agency-wide athletic programs. This would include the development, implementation and evaluation of a wide range of athletic programming and services, such as leagues and tournaments. This position supervises part-time staff like referees, facility attendances, instructors, umpires, facility maintenance staff and others. Athletics Supervisors have a median base salary of $58,892 and a median year-to-year percentage change of +5 percent (2022 to 2023). 

9. Aquatics Supervisor (or Aquatics Manager)

The Aquatics Supervisor is in charge of managing agency-wide aquatics programs and operations. This position requires the development of aquatics-related programs and services, overseeing all safety processes related to aquatics, the management of operations, and the management of multiple part-time and seasonal support staff. The median base salary for an Aquatics Supervisor is $58,183 with a median year-to-year percentage change of +5 percent (2022 to 2023). 

10. Recreation Programs Coordinator

The Recreation Programs Coordinator manages a variety of needs-based and appropriate activities and events for the community. This position requires the administering of prescribed programs, services, facilities and/or events. The Recreation Programs Coordinator must also identify what appropriate and desired programs to offer, promote said programs, hire instructors and contractors, and ensure quality control, as well as measure the success of such events and activities. The Recreation Programs Coordinator has a median base salary of $54,566 and a median year-to-year percentage change of +5 percent (2022 to 2023). 

11. Marketing and Communications Director

The Marketing and Communications Director is in charge of the development and implementation of marketing efforts and community outreach. Their primary job is to create awareness of agency services and to build community participation in agency offerings. This may include the development of awareness campaigns and positioning of the agency’s brand, as well as planning and coordinating marketing efforts. The Marketing and Communications Director may also provide marketing support for individual events, facilities or programming. They have a median base salary of $70,000 and a median year-to-year percentage change of +5.7 percent (2022 to 2023). 

12. Fitness Center Manager

The Fitness Center Manager is in charge of managing the day-to-day operations of a fitness center. This requires overseeing all programs and services related to fitness and wellness activities, such as group fitness programs, personal training and wellness programs. They also supervise supporting fitness center staff and work with them to continuously build memberships. Additionally, they are responsible for overseeing equipment selection and maintenance. The Fitness Center Manager has a median base salary of $66,428 and a median year-to-year percentage change of +5 percent (2022 to 2023). 

13. Administrative Assistant

The Administrative Assistant provides general office support for the agency under the general supervision of the director or managers. They provide a full range of support, such as collecting and compiling data; responding to phone calls and emails; answering questions from the public; data entry; processing mail; preparing correspondence, documents and forms; scheduling meetings; maintaining files; ordering and dispensing supplies; and cash handling. The Administrative Assistant can provide agency-wide support or be assigned to a specific department. The median base salary of an Administrative Assistant is $47,672 with a median year-to-year percentage change of +5 percent (2022 to 2023). 

While there are many different employment positions and salaries within a park and recreation agency, we are happy to see a positive year-to-year salary change from 2022 to 2023 for the positions within the report. Competitive compensation packages – including base salaries and benefits – are critical in attracting and retaining the best employees. NRPA members may access the full 2023 NRPA Park and Recreation Salary Survey report, sample job descriptions, an interactive chart breaking down the various positions above by location, years of service and more, as well as organizational charts of a variety of jurisdiction populations and agency types on NRPA Connect.   

Catherine Tepper (she/her) is a research assistant at NRPA.