How to Become a Recreation and Sports Director

How to Become a Recreation and Sports Director: Career Path Guide

If you want to become a recreation and sports director, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as a recreation and sports director:


Those who become recreation and sports directors typically have a keen interest in sports and recreation, combined with an aptitude for business administration. They must have strong leadership, communication and interpersonal skills.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as a recreation and sports director. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Sports and Recreation Director

Although educational requirements may vary by employer, you typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in an area such as business administration, management, athletic administration, outdoor recreation, or a related field.


Some employers may require that you have a master’s degree in one of these areas, or you may be required that you have experience in athletics or coaching in order to be hired as a sports and recreation director.




Recreation and Sports Director Job Description

Recreation and sports directors are responsible for planning, organizing and directing the operations of recreational sports and fitness programs, activities and services, which includes the related events, publicity and finances. They must also manage the coaches and others involved in running each sports and recreation activity.


Recreation and sports directors must ensure that all funding is properly in place, equipment is safe and available, coaches are properly trained and sports and recreation events are being properly advertised. 



Recreation and Sports Director Job Duties

• Develop and negotiate business contracts

• Provide technical and professional advice regarding recreation, sports and fitness

• Prepare budget estimates

• Develop and implement program policies and procedures

• Plan and organize sponsorship and fundraising initiatives

• May be involved in managing a sports governing agency

• May be involved in managing the operations of a professional sports team

• Recruit and hire coaches and support staff



Who Hires Sports and Recreation Directors?

Sports and recreation directors are hired by organizations that plan, develop and administer sports and recreation activity programs; these organizations typically include:


• Provincial/state sports and recreation associations

• Municipal, provincial/state and federal government departments

• Not-for-profit organizations such, as the Boys and Girls Clubs

• Colleges and universities

• Hospitals

• Extended care facilities

• Tourism and entertainment businesses and organizations



Possible Paths to Becoming a Sports and Recreation Director

There isn’t one pre-determined path that you must take to become a sports and recreation director. In fact, there are typically four main paths you can take to become a sports and recreation director, including:


Athlete Path: Having experience as an athlete at progressively higher levels of competition provides potential sports and recreation directors with experience in the day-to-day operations of how such programs are run, as athletes are given the up close and personal view of how the athletic department conducts business.


Coaching Path: Coaches make excellent candidates for sports and recreation program directors because they are given an inside look at the operations of these programs, and may be given chances for promotion into the position of director.


Business Leader Path: Having skills and experience in business is a great way to become a sports and recreation director without necessarily having personal experience in athletics or coaching. Being able to manage people; help companies grow through marketing; and using communication strategies and skill to get people on the same page and get great ideas to the forefront are all skills that a business leader can apply to the position of sports and recreation director.


Entry-level Administration Path: Gaining an entry-level job with an organization that administers sports and recreation programs is a great way to eventually get a job as that program’s director. Working your way up through such an organization is a very effective route to take, as it allows you to learn aspects of the organization at every level, and you are frequently in a position to be promoted to a role at a higher level of responsibility if you show dedication and competency in your work.



Personal Traits Needed to Become a Recreation and Sports Director

In order to become an effective sports and recreation director, you will need to posses certain personality characteristics. These traits will help you enjoy going to work, and provide you with the foundation for gaining the necessary skills, knowledge and competencies required in a career as a sports and recreation director. Personal traits needed typically include:


• An interest in recreation and sports

• An interest in working with people from diverse backgrounds

• Excellent interpersonal skills

• Excellent written and oral communication skills

• Strong planning, organization and leadership skills

• Enjoy coordinating information and the work of others

• Competent in negotiating business contracts



Recreation and Sports Director Salary

The salary level of recreation and sports directors can vary depending on factors such as their level of experience, their level of education, their specific job responsibilities, where they work and many others.


Recreation and Sports Director Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Recreation, Sports and Fitness Program and Service Directors occupational group earn an average wage of between $21.63 and $30.11 per hour.


Recreation and Sports Director Salary Canada: According to Service Canada, the mean salary level of workers in the Recreation, Sports and Fitness Program and Service Directors occupational group is $53,006 per year. 



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Careers Similar to Recreation and Sports Director

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Recreation and Sports Director, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Athletic Director

Camp Director

Recreation and Leisure Supervisor

Sports Coach



References: How to Become a Recreation and Sports Director

Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a recreation and sports director.


Occupations in Alberta:Recreation and Sport Administrator.” (March 19, 2016). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 12, 2020.

Explore Careers: Recreation, sports and fitness program and service directors.” (October 8, 2019). Prospects website. Retrieved January 12, 2020.

Sports Administration Articles:The Job Outlook for Sports Administration.” (March 21, 2017) Arkansas State University website. Retrieved January 12, 2020.


Please Note: Some of the information for this career guide was gathered from actual job postings, which due to the brief nature of their online presence, are not listed here as sources.




Scholarships for Becoming Recreation and Sports Director

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a Recreation and Sports Director can be found on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Recreation and Sports Director Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a recreation and sports director. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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