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Feature Article - July 2010

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Our 2010 Salary Survey of the Managed Recreation, Sports & Fitness Industry

By Emily Tipping


Who Are You?

If a picture could be painted of the average respondent to our survey, here's what you would find: a nearly-49-year-old, white male with a college degree, 11.1 years in his current position and more than 21 years of industry experience, working for a parks and recreation organization in Midwestern suburbia.

But, of course, that's a generalization. Respondents came from across the country, from communities of all types, from diverse backgrounds, and with various levels of experience working in the industry.

Respondents were most likely to report working in the Midwest, with 30.9 percent hailing from that region. Nearly one-third came from the South (31.6 percent), and around a fifth came from the West (20.6 percent). Another 16.5 percent were from the Northeast. Suburban communities had the highest representation, with 41.5 percent of respondents, followed by rural communities (31.8 percent) and urban areas (26.7 percent).

As in years past, parks and recreation organizations were the largest percentage of respondents, with 39.5 percent working for these types of organizations. They were followed by colleges and universities (15.3 percent); schools and school districts (10.6 percent); community or private recreation and sports centers (10.6 percent); campgrounds, RV parks, or private or youth camps (6.1 percent); YMCAs, YWCAs, JCCs and Boys and Girls Clubs (4.1 percent); sports, health and fitness clubs (3.5 percent); golf or country clubs (2.5 percent); military installations (2.4 percent); and resorts and resort hotels (2 percent).

There was virtually no change from the 2009 survey in terms of the job titles held by our respondents. The most commonly held title was director. More than a third (34.6 percent) of respondents said they were directors. This was followed by those in administration management positions (20.1 percent), operations/facility management (15.4 percent) and program and activity administration (11.8 percent). (See Figure 1.)

Respondents from colleges and universities and from schools and school districts were more likely than others to report that they were directors. Nearly half of college respondents (49.3 percent) and 40.1 percent of schools respondents were directors. On the other hand, respondents from health clubs and from YMCAs were far more likely than others to be chairman, CEO, president, vice president or owner of their facility. Some 41 percent of health club respondents and 33.3 percent of YMCA respondents said they held this type of title.

Nearly three-quarters (72.7 percent) of respondents said they were male. The industry segments that included a higher proportion of female respondents included YMCAs (44.4 percent of respondents were female); health clubs (37.2 percent); and community recreation and sports centers (36.9 percent).

Likewise, respondents were overwhelmingly likely to be white, with 88.9 percent of respondents indicating they were. Another 4.3 percent said they were black, and 3.4 percent were Hispanic.

A majority of respondents reported in from the baby boomer generation, with 65.4 percent between the ages of 46 and 64. Just over a quarter (26.2 percent) were Generation Xers, between 30 and 45 years of age. Far fewer respondents were from the other ends of the generational spectrum: 5.2 percent were Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) and 3.3 percent were older than 65.