Who doesn't look forward to long summer days or lazy weekends when you can relax in a park, participate in athletic competitions, or hang around by a pool? If you're interested in helping the public enjoy relaxing activities and lead healthy lifestyles, consider majoring in Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies.
In this major you will take classes in administration, sociology, business, physical education, tourism and travel, therapeutic recreation, and sports science to learn how to develop recreation programs, customize activities for disabled children and adults, handle budgets, and oversee parks or recreation centers' operations. This degree allows students to work closely with the general public while overseeing employees in a relaxed environment.
Students pursuing a degree in Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies should have good communication and interpersonal skills. Professionals will often work with both the general public and employees, making the ability to communicate effectively and provide good customer service necessary. Students should also have good organization skills to coordinate activity schedules and ensure all daily operations are taken care of.
Depending on the job, professionals may be employed either seasonally or full time. Directors are often employed full time and work on administration tasks during the off-season, while workers, such as counselors, may only be seasonally employed. During busy times, both workers and upper level staff can expect to work long and sometimes irregular hours. Professionals typically split their time between the office and working with customers participating in programs or events.
Summer jobs as camp counselors or working at recreation centers will give students experience within the field. While this is not necessary, these jobs will give students the opportunity to decide if they enjoy working in the parks, recreation, and leisure industry.
While an associate's degree will allow graduates to work in the field, those who pursue a bachelor's degree will have better job opportunities and are more likely to advance to positions of management.
Due to the increasing amount of park, recreational, and leisure activities available to the general public, there are many job opportunities available as well. Graduates have gone to work at recreation centers, national parks, cruise ships, summer camps, and other fields that support exercise and healthy living.
With the field growing at an average rate, graduates should be able to find jobs after graduation. Jobs may be more readily available in different areas of the country, giving those who are willing to move better opportunities.
Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies graduates earn an average starting salary of $33,544 and mid-career salary of $49,397.
Here is a small sample of the careers that a degree in Parks, Recreation and Leisure Studies might open up.