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What does a Recreation Manager do?

By K. Testa
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A recreation manager supervises the operations of a recreational facility or organization. Most people in this job work primarily in community centers, parks, and other organized outdoor areas. They typically develop recreational programs and manage the facilities. The organizations that they oversee might be small or large, depending on the local population and the geographic area served. They often coordinate a large number of activities, for example by directing a department of parks and recreation.

Recreation managers usually work with people of all ages and backgrounds. They typically coordinate a variety of activities for adults, youths, and seniors. In general, some sports or athletic knowledge is helpful, since many recreational programs focus on promoting physical activity. The programs might take place both indoors and outdoors. Some examples include physical fitness programs and sports, including aquatics. Recreational programs can also consist of arts and crafts, other types of hobbies, and camps.

Schedules may vary but, in many places, the recreation manager normally works full-time. He or she generally works in an office, as well as outdoors if he or she is conducting outside programs. The recreation manager usually reports to a director of recreation, and often supervises at least one other employee. In addition to overseeing the daily operations of a recreational facility, the manager's duties can also entail a broad assessment of community needs and the development of ideas for meeting them with the help of his or her employees.

A recreation manager job description may also require acting as a contact person for community members and outside groups who might want to use the facilities. Therefore, the manager usually must have some community relations skills. Budgeting experience is typically important as well, so that he or she can document spending and track revenue, if necessary. He or she might also have to attend board meetings or other community meetings and events, as a representative of the department. An additional job duty might be to encourage community participation through presentations and public events.

These positions often require a bachelor’s degree in a discipline like recreation administration. Sometimes, professional experience in physical education is helpful as well. Usually, having a combination of recreational skills and an administrative background, along with good record-keeping abilities, is important in many recreation manager jobs. Many recreation programs require a combination of formal education, culminating in a degree, plus a certain amount of experience in the field. In other places, a recreation manager can be certified in the field, without necessarily having a degree.

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Discussion Comments
By irontoenail — On May 14, 2013

@clintflint - Any kind of management position is difficult and requires experience. But I do think people are more likely to get the job if they work their way up the ladder, rather than trying to start as a manager right out of college.

In my experience, they will almost always hire from within the company or organization, and if you've got your eye on a particular place you're better off trying for an entry level position there and being patient.

By clintflint — On May 13, 2013

@Fa5t3r - Well, that's a pretty specialized kind of recreation manager though. I don't think you'd have to have much more than a management degree to go into another kind of facilities management. It's different if you're having to organize the care of a natural environment, but people who are in charge of a normal park don't have to worry that much about that.

They just have to look after activities, maybe a few staff and report to whoever owns the area. I don't think it's the kind of thing you need extensive years of experience doing.

By Fa5t3r — On May 13, 2013

I think, like most managerial positions, there are a lot of different ways to get into this kind of job.

I mean, if you're talking about something like a National Park, they obviously aren't going to let someone with just a degree in business management get into the recreation management there. They'll want someone who has experience as a ranger, or at least working with the outdoors, rather than someone who only has experience with people and the bureaucratic side of things.

Which is not to say that that kind of degree would hurt your chances, but that would have to be backed up with other kinds of experience, I'd imagine.

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