Recreational Sports: Recreational Sports Job Opportunities

There’s a lot more to Sports than Monday Night Football, and there’s a lot more to Athletics than just Sports. Anyone can enjoy some form of Recreation, and there are countless recreational sports jobs that you can have, to help people get the recreation they want and need. And you can have fun doing it!

The President of Work, Achievement, Values & Education Inc. (WAVE) in Washington, D.C. knows about opportunities in Recreation: “They are everywhere! Start by volunteering or securing an internship with an organization you’re interested in.” He started as a volunteer for local organizations, and at special events for at-risk youth. Then, he says, “I found that I had an interest and desire to help at-risk youth and inner-city kids, and looked for other things to do.” His advice: Find a field of interest (like sports). Look for nonprofit organizations or agencies in that field and go to work with them. Ask about programs they have for training or an internship. Volunteer for a day or for a special event. See what jobs or volunteer opportunities they have.”

Volunteer with your local Recreation Department, says another recreation worker. “Shadow a local recreation professional – walk in their shoes for a day or even a week.” She began as a volunteer herself, for a local youth sports organization: Secretary, President, Recreation Advisory Committee… When the position of full-time Director was created, she applied and started her career in youth sports. She was Director for five years, then went to work for Gwinnett County, Georgia.

As Recreation Manager for Gwinnett County Parks & Recreation, she now oversees 21 Volunteer Youth Athletic Associations (serving 43,000 youth); the operations of four Community Centers, four Gymnasiums and other buildings and pavilions

Also Adult Athletic Programs (12,000 participants) and Recreation Programming (classes for youth through seniors in karate, ballet, aerobics, fencing, etc.) – oh, and Resources and Marketing for 29 parks operating.

There are also 21 new ones in development, publications, media and such. There are 13,000 volunteers working with youth in those 21 Youth Athletic Associations.

The earnings in Gwinnet County are comparable to those in metro areas for the professional recreation workers: Recreation Program Supervisors – $33,000 to $40,000; Recreation Coordinators, $40,000-$48,000 and Recreation Managers, $50,000 to $63,000.

She credits the training opportunities provided by an organization known as NAYS for her professional development, such as Certified Youth Sports Administrators Academy and conferences. Hands-on experience as a volunteer, then as a youth sports Director in a smaller county, gave her the tools she needs for her work now.

NAYS is the National Alliance for Youth Sports. It operates the Academy for Youth Sports Administrators, a 20-hour certification program available at locations across the country as well as through an online Academy. It covers topics such as these:

  • Youth Sports Philosophy
  • Including All Kids
  • Mission Statements
  • Policies and Procedures
  • Volunteer Management
  • Child Abuse
  • Parents
  • Conflict Management
  • Insurance and Risk Management

In addition to the Certified Youth Sports Administrator credential, the program provides 2.0 Continuing Education Units.

NAYS also publishes Sporting Kid Magazine, a quarterly of news, tips and information “aimed at ensuring that youth sports is a happy, safe experience for everyone involved.”

VolunteerMatch has lots of opportunities to help in sports and recreation wherever you live. See the Recreation Sports Links page to access it online.

There are literally thousands of jobs available for civilian employees with military and government agencies. Here are some examples:

Recreation Aid

Air Force Personnel Center

Hampton, Virginia
Salary: $23,432+

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

Air Force Personnel Center

Columbus, Mississippi
Salary: $32,871+

Recreation Specialist

Dept. of Agriculture

Forest Service

Chadron, Nebraska
Salary: $44,354+

Assistant Forest Recreation Officer (Interdisciplinary)

Forest Service

Porterville, California
Salary: $25.85+ /hr

Recreation Therapist

Veterans Affairs

Veterans Health Administration

Menlo Park, California
Salary: $55,824+

Outdoor Recreation Planner Interior

Bureau of Land Management

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Salary: $44,224+

Camp Fire is a national organization that serves ¾ million boys and girls, children to youth, through Councils and community partners across the country. You can learn about programs, activities and volunteer opportunities by calling your local Camp Fire USA Council. You could help youth put their talents in action through self-directed projects. Or at a summer camp with 7 to 15-year-old co-ed campers, you can help them become Counselors-In-Training with arts and crafts, hiking, boating, horseback riding, archery, outdoor living skills, environmental learning and overnight backpacking.

The fastest growing youth organizations in the country are Boys & Girls Clubs, now serving over 3-½ million 6-to-18-year olds. They’re all looking for professionals in youth development, management and executive positions. See the Recreation Links page for more information on challenging fun opportunities like these:

Teen Coordinator

Heights Unit

Boys & Girls Club Cleveland
Salary: $20K-$32K
Description: Implementing programs and developing local resources for Club teens, ages 14-18

Health & Fitness Director

Boys & Girls Club Stamford

Salary: $30,000-$38,000
Description: Planning, development, implementation and evaluation of programs in Sports, Fitness and Recreation

The National Intramural Recreational Sports Association posts many career opportunities online through this site,

You can check all the jobs here, or search in these categories:

  • Academic Area
  • Informal Recreation
  • Aquatics
  • Instructional Programs
  • Associate Director
  • Intramurals
  • Camps
  • Sports Program Marketing
  • Director
  • Extramurals
  • Outdoor
  • Facility Management
  • People With Disabilities
  • Family & Youth
  • Special Events
  • Graduate Assistant
  • Technology
  • Health & Wellness

Here are a couple of samples:

Aquatic Director

University of Virginia Intramural – Recreational Sports Department
Description: Oversee all aquatic facility operations, Assistant Aquatic Director and lifeguard employees; 50-meter NCAA Division I competition swim/dive pool, instructional pool, whirlpool & co-ed sauna + 25-yard Gymnasium pool.
Requirements: Bachelor’s Degree and 5+ years experience; Master’s Degree in Recreation, Athletic Administration or Physical Education preferred


Camping & Retreats Center

Bradford Woods

Indiana University
Description: Year-round operation of camp program, hiring & supervising full-time & seasonal staff, developing & delivering programs, writing grants, assisting in university course instruction.
Requirements: Bachelor’s Degree in Recreation, Camp Administration, Therapeutic Recreation, Education or Social Work

The YMCA lays claim as “America’s oldest and largest community-based social service organization and charity,” with over 20 million members. Job opportunities are advertised online at

The YWCA can always put you to work as a volunteer, helping people in your own community to live healthier lives.

See the Recreation Sports Employer Links page for how to find your local YWCA.

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