Recreation Worker

Young woman recreation worker leads a group of girls wearing orange life vests on a boat expedition on a freshwater lake
Career Clusters: Hospitality & Tourism

What you need to know


Recreation workers design and lead such activities as crafts, sports, or games to help people stay active, improve fitness, and have fun. They work with groups in summer camps, fitness and recreational sports centers, nursing care facilities, nature parks, and other settings.

What does a recreation worker do?

Recreation workers are employed in a variety of settings, including recreation centers, parks, summer camps, and nursing and residential care facilities. Many workers spend much of their time being physically active in the outdoors.

Some of the things a recreation worker might do:

  • Plan, organize, and lead activities for groups or recreation centers
  • Explain the rules of activities and instruct participants at a variety of skill levels
  • Enforce safety rules to prevent injury
  • Modify activities to suit the needs of specific groups, such as seniors
  • Administer basic first aid if needed
  • Organize and set up the equipment that is used in recreational activities
What skills are needed?
  • Communication skills: Recreation workers must be able to communicate well. They often work with large groups of people and need to give clear instructions, motivate participants, and maintain order and safety.
  • Flexibility: Recreation workers must be flexible when planning activities. They must be able to adapt plans to suit changing environmental conditions and participants’ needs.
  • Leadership skills: Recreation workers should be able to lead both large and small groups. They often lead activities for people of all ages and abilities.
  • Physical strength: Most recreation workers should be physically fit. Their job may require a considerable amount of movement because they often demonstrate activities while explaining them.
  • Problem-solving skills: Recreation workers need strong problem-solving skills. They must be able to create and reinvent activities and programs for all types of participants.
What is the pay?

The average pay for recreation workers in the United States was $34,410 in May 2023 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A recreation worker’s pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.

What is the career outlook?

About 61,700 new job openings for recreation workers are projected each year, on average, over the next 10 years in the United States.

Overall employment of recreation workers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2022 to 2032 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is faster than the average growth rate for all occupations.

As more emphasis is placed on the importance of lifelong well-being, more recreation workers will be needed to work with children and adults in a variety of settings.

What education is required to become a recreation worker?

Recreation workers typically need at least a high school diploma or the equivalent. Many receive on-the-job training that typically lasts less than a month. Entry-level educational requirements vary with the type of position.

Some positions may require a bachelor’s degree or college coursework. A bachelor’s degree in other subjects, such as liberal arts or public administration, may also qualify applicants for some positions.

Discover some of the courses you will take pursuing a degree in Recreation and Sport Management.