There are more than 1.5 million acres of urban parkland in the United States, according to The Trust for Public Land. As with the larger state and national parks systems, city parks have the responsibility of stewardship of the environment and service to the public. Park managers are responsible for handling these often contradictory missions, as well as a host of other duties.
Inspecting the Park
A park manager oversees employees who deal with the maintenance and recreational services at a park or recreation facility. He inspects the park to make sure everything is maintained and makes notes or recommendations for improvements. Inspecting the park includes checking buildings, picnic areas, roads, trails and fences. Park managers also prepare written reports on activities at the park, as well as budget information, and look for ways to improve customer service.
Management, Regulations Knowledge
Park managers must be current on any local, state or federal ordinances and regulations that affect the park. They must also know how to supervise, organize and manage a program of recreational activities. A thorough understanding of different leadership styles is needed for park managers. They should also be aware of the best way to manage natural resources in the park.
Most park managers have a bachelor's degree in parks and recreation, leisure studies or outdoor recreation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a degree in any liberal arts field might be enough for park managers who work in the private sector. The amount of experience required depends on the size of the city where a park manager works. The city of Phoenix requires three years of supervisory experience for park managers. The Iowa Department of Administrative services, on the other hand, requires one year of park experience for a park manager.
Certification an Option
The National Recreation and Parks Association offers an exam for certification for professional and technical jobs in parks. Jobs don't necessarily require certification by the NRPA, although the association says it offers more career advancement options. Requirements for the exam include at least one of the following: a bachelor's degree in a recreation or related field from an accredited program; any bachelor's degree combined with three years of full-time park experience; or five years of full-time experience in parks. You must take continuing-education courses and tests to keep your certification.
Job growth in the recreation field is projected to be average, at 14 percent through 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Growth will be helped by the number of younger people combined with older people having more leisure time.
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.