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Parks, Recreation, Leisure & Fitness Major

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Parks, Recreation, Leisure & Fitness

$54,760 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Parks, Recreation, Leisure & Fitness Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies graduations there were in 2019-2020 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 54,605
Master’s Degree 9,155
Associate Degree 5,688
Basic Certificate 1,503
Undergraduate Certificate 655
Doctor’s Degree 349
Graduate Certificate 167

What Parks, Recreation, Leisure & Fitness Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to parks and rec and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Parks & Rec Majors

According to O*NET survey takers, a major in parks and rec should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Personnel and Human Resources - Knowledge of principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.

Skills for Parks & Rec Majors

When studying parks and rec, you’ll learn many skills that will help you be successful in a wide range of jobs - even those that do not require a degree in the field. The following is a list of some of the most common skills needed for careers associated with this major:

  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Abilities for Parks & Rec Majors

Some of the most crucial abilities to master while a parks and rec student include the following:

  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

What Can You Do With a Parks, Recreation, Leisure & Fitness Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with parks and rec:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Athletes and Sports Competitors 7.6% $50,650
Athletic Trainers 22.7% $47,510
Coaches and Scouts 12.9% $33,780
Compliance Managers 8.0% $107,480
Exercise Physiologists 13.2% $49,270
First-Line Supervisors of Landscaping, Lawn Service, and Groundskeeping Workers 11.4% $48,220
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors 10.0% $39,820
General and Operations Managers 9.1% $100,930
Recreation and Fitness Studies Professors 9.7% $62,620
Regulatory Affairs Managers 8.0% $107,480

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Parks, Recreation, Leisure & Fitness?

54,605 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
49% Percent Women
37% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
Roughly 49% of the graduates are women, and 51% are men.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of parks and rec majors is as follows:

Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 2,735
Black or African American 6,748
Hispanic or Latino 8,231
White 31,680
International Students 1,251
Other Races/Ethnicities 3,960

Geographic Diversity

Students from other countries are interested in Parks & Rec, too. About 2.3% of those with this major are international students.

How Much Do Parks, Recreation, Leisure & Fitness Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

The U.S. Department of Education found that students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a bachelor’s degree in parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies made a median starting salary of $28,300 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $25,400 (25th percentile) and $31,100 (75th percentile).


One thing to note here is that not all of these people may be working in careers related to parks and rec.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $49,280 to $87,030 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to parks and rec. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Parks, Recreation, Leisure & Fitness Major  ( 49280 to 87030 )
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )

Some careers associated with parks and rec require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

How much schooling do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to parks and rec have obtained the following education levels.

Education Level Percentage of Workers
Less than a High School Diploma 3.3%
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 7.2%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 7.5%
Some College Courses 5.3%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 9.0%
Bachelor’s Degree 34.6%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 5.0%
Master’s Degree 20.0%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 1.0%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 1.1%
Doctoral Degree 5.9%

Online Parks, Recreation, Leisure & Fitness Programs

In the 2019-2020 academic year, 1,452 schools offered some type of parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 0 0
Certificate (1-2 years) 154 4
Certificate (2-4 Years) 4 0
Associate’s Degree 607 38
Bachelor’s Degree 65 21
Post-Baccalaureate 0 0
Master’s Degree 540 119
Post-Master’s 9 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 79 3
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 2 1

Is a Degree in Parks, Recreation, Leisure & Fitness Worth It?

The median salary for a parks and rec grad is $54,760 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 37% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $297,200 after 20 years!


You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to parks and rec.

Major Number of Grads
Homeland Security, Law Enforcement & Firefighting 141,046
Public Administration & Social Service 97,666
Legal Professions 61,993
Military Technologies & Applied Sciences 4,411


*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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