How Do I Become a Recreation Assistant?

Maggie Worth

A recreation assistant is a professional who aids managers and coordinators in providing recreational programming to a specific group of people or to the general public. In order to become a recreation assistant, you will need some level of education, usually a college degree, and a certain amount of experience within the industry. Depending on the employer, you may need to obtain certifications or licenses, and may need to pass a background test upon hire. As with many positions, you will need to find and apply for jobs and complete the interview process.

A recreation assistant may help provide recreational programming to the public.
A recreation assistant may help provide recreational programming to the public.

Educational requirements to become a recreation assistant vary significantly from one position to another. Positions funded by the government, such as those at county departments of recreation or at colleges or universities, are likely to require completion of a formal degree or diploma program. Majors can include sport management, exercise science and recreation management. Other types of employers may be more likely to accept a degree or diploma in any field, completion of a certificate program or a high school diploma paired with experience.

Some employers may also require certain certifications before you can become a recreation assistant, or may require you to earn those certifications within a specified time period after hire. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification is a common requirement in this role, particularly at gyms, spas, colleges and government-sponsored departments. Some jobs may require certification as a personal trainer as well.

In many cases, you will need a certain amount of experience in order to become a recreation assistant. If you complete a formal educational program, you might want to look for one with a practicum or internship component to help build your experience. Coaching children's sports teams or working at summer camps can also help build experience while in high school or college. Assistants may also be responsible for administrative functions, so sometimes experience in an administrative role will help you land a position.

You will also, of course, need to find a job. You can search job boards and specific company or organization websites to find listings. Common employers include governmental departments of recreation, spas, hotels, conference centers, resorts, gyms, membership clubs, cruise lines and colleges and universities.

You will need to apply for positions you find, which often means supplying a completed application and a formal resume. The employer likely will want to check professional references and verify your employment history. It is not unusual for employers to require a criminal background check before hiring someone as a recreation assistant, especially if the position requires dealing with children or mentally impaired individuals.

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