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Recreational assistants ensure individuals participating in recreation activities have an enjoyable experience. Working under recreation leaders, assistants contribute to the development of recreation programs, lead participants in performing activities, maintain recreational equipment and engage in promotional activities. Typical employers of recreational assistants include local authorities, nursing and residential care facilities, hotels, resorts and fitness chains.
Using the Skills
Good planning and teamwork skills are essential for recreational assistants to thrive in the job. They must collaborate with a team that may include recreational therapists, activity specialists and counselors to organize age-appropriate activities for various clients. Because the job entails extensive interaction with clients, recreational assistants must possess great communication and interpersonal skills to give clear instructions and build positive working relationships with participants. Assistants who work in healthcare settings also need to be empathetic and compassionate to provide emotional support to patients in distress.
The main duty of recreational assistants is to provide instruction to clients taking part in recreational activities. An assistant who works at a resort, for example, may lead a leisure swimming activity. This role comes with the responsibility to ensure the safety of all participants. He inspects the pool to make sure the water is clean and at the correct level before proceeding to explain the rules of the activity. If swimming equipment is required, the assistant ensures it is in perfect condition and demonstrates how it is used. In case of an accident, the recreational assistant is always available to administer first aid.
Commercial providers of recreation services often require recreational assistants to engage in promotional activities. For instance, assistants working at a fitness center may distribute marketing materials detailing the benefits of the various activities it offers. Recreational assistants also arrange field trips. This involves coordinating the transportation of outdoor recreation equipment to recreation sites. Other duties include assessing the effectiveness of recreation activities and maintaining inventory of equipment and supplies.
Employment requirements vary by employer. While some hire individuals with a high school diploma and some recreation aide experience, healthcare facilities prefer those with an associate degree in therapeutic recreation. Aspiring recreational assistants can pursue the National Recreation and Park Association’s Certified Park and Recreation Professional certification or the American Red Cross first aid program to enhance their employment and career advancement prospects. Assistants who gain vast work experience can progress to become recreational coordinators. Others combine experience with a bachelor’s degree in recreation therapy to become recreational therapists.
2016 Salary Information for Recreation Workers
Recreation workers earned a median annual salary of $23,870 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, recreation workers earned a 25th percentile salary of $19,780, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $31,310, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 390,000 people were employed in the U.S. as recreation workers.
- Office of Personnel Management: Position Classification Flysheet for Recreation Aid and Assistant Series, GS-0189
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Recreation Workers
- National Recreation and Park Association: NRPA Certification Programs
- American Red Cross: Training & Certification
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Recreation Workers
- Career Trend: Recreation Workers
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