This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Recreation co-ordinators plan and manage community leisure programmes and events at a variety of venues.
Recreation co-ordinators usually earn
$33K-$49K per year
Senior recreation co-ordinators usually earn
$39K-$67K per year
Pay for recreation co-ordinators varies depending on experience and where they work.
Pay rates for recreation co-ordinators working in schools as sports co-ordinators
- New sports co-ordinators usually start on $32,000 a year and can earn up to $49,000.
- Senior sports co-ordinators with responsibilities such as budgeting and/or supervising staff earn between $39,000 and $67,000.
Wages for recreation co-ordinators employed on a casual basis range from minimum wage to about $30 an hour.
Source: NZ Educational Institute (NZEI).
What you will do
Recreation co-ordinators may do some or all of the following:
- plan and co-ordinate recreation events, competitions and holiday programmes
- work with the community to discuss and develop recreation projects
- prepare budgets and write reports and proposals
- hire, train and supervise staff
- run leisure and recreation centres
- advise councils and commissions on recreation planning and policies
- advise and assist community groups to meet funding requirements.
Skills and knowledge
Recreation co-ordinators need to have:
- knowledge of different sports and recreation activities
- knowledge of the rules of various sports
- an awareness of health and safety
- budgeting, business management and marketing skills.
- work regular office hours, plus evenings and weekends at events. They often work to tight deadlines
- work in offices for sports associations, recreation centres, community trusts and local councils
- travel to different recreation centres, sports fields, schools and marae.
What's the job really like?
David Letts - Recreation Co-ordinator
Japanese sword fighting, bone carving and netball are just three of the different activities University of Otago students can take up in their spare time, thanks to recreation co-ordinator David Letts.
"My job is about planning a whole range of activities – everything from knitting to kayaking – that people may want to be involved in. Recreation means different things to different people, and covers arts and leisure activities as well as sport.
Seeing people unwind and relax a great reward
David helps to run more than 50 programmes and activities each year, which more than 1,500 students get involved in. He says his favourite part of the job is meeting new students and helping them to unwind after the stress of study. "I have a fond memory of a skiing trip that included two guys from the States – Johnny and Zac. They turned up stressed from having just finished exams and we went away and they skied all day and partied all night. They got into the van for the trip home and never moved a muscle until we got back. They rang me up the next day to take me out to coffee because they had had such a good time."
Dexter finds out what it's like to work in the sport and recreation industry 6.58 mins. (Video courtesy of Skills Active).
Clinton: Options are huge in the sport, fitness and recreation industry. For Dexter to get a taste of what is out there, he’s going to spend time at Howick Recreation Centre and the Manurewa Aquatic Centre. Plus, he’ll get some one-on-one with a fitness trainer. First up, team leader Taryn Walker tells us what qualities are needed to work in this industry.
Taryn: It definitely helps for them to be enthusiastic and really enjoy what they’re about to do. We do a lot of work with kids, so really enjoy children.
Taryn: Hi! How are you? I’m Taryn, good to see you, good to have you on board. What we’ll do first of all is I’ll just show you around the centre, so you can get an idea of what it’s like around here.
Clinton: The centre facilitates numerous activities and caters for all ages. At present, the school holiday programme is in full swing.
Dexter: What would I have to do if I’m just new into this?
Tarryn: As an assistant, you would be helping to assist programmes like this – the holiday programmes. If you wanted to coach, you could coach like that. If you get a full-time job, you would be co-ordinating a lot of the other programmes, and then you would be doing all of the admin side of things as well, so planning the programmes, running them, taking training sessions for the coaches that are here.
Clinton: Dexter soon gets involved by participating in a basketball game. This gives him an opportunity to observe how Enoch Chan coaches the children.
Enoch: When you run back here you’re allowed to take one shot. OK, are you ready…steady…go!
Dexter: Go Blue!
Dexter: For the coaching, Enoch was really great. It was really good how he had the whole situation under control.
Clinton: Now it’s Dexter’s turn to take an activity.
Children: Hi Dexter!
Dexter: I feel confident in controlling the kids. It will take a little bit before I know what they will listen to, but as soon as I do find that out I can put that into practice.
Taryn: Dexter is doing really well. He’s got a lot of sports knowledge, you can see that. It’s really good. A good start to it, he’s got what it takes.
Clinton: But there is more to the job than entertaining children.
Taryn: So another big part of our job is that you’ve got to be quite physical, be able to lift and know how to lift safely. We’ve got heaps of gear here as you can see. Usually we follow a plan, and we just set out all the gear. And each plan, every week, for each programme is different. So it’s a lot of fun, and a good team environment. It’s good.
Clinton: The sport, fitness and recreation industry training organisation helps workplaces set up training for their staff to work towards nationally recognised awards and certificates.
Taryn: For our systems, we require them to be 16 or over, just because they are working with children and they have to be responsible and have a bit of initiative. Experience is a big thing as well, so if you can get into coaching or volunteering early, it really helps to get you there.
Clinton: Another option in this industry is to work as a pool lifeguard.
Steve: Unemployed and school leavers can come in and do some training and then take on seasonal work over the summer months and then they’ve got the opportunity to go on to full time.
Clinton: Other aspects of the job involve training and implementing pool activities, supervision of the customers in the pool to ensure their safety, and cleaning and maintaining plant operations. Ongoing training is often provided by the employer. Within the same complex is a health and fitness gymnasium. Ieti Lologa has been a fitness instructor for seven years. He offers some insight into the job.
Ieti: When coming into the gym, everyone that comes through has a different goal. Apart from knowing what exercises and programmes to put them through, you need to be able to understand how to listen to the person and take into consideration what it is they’re actually wanting from you. It’s a people-based job, and you can go away and you can study all the things that sport has to offer but at the end of the day, it’s all about dealing with people, and you need to be able to that really well.
Clinton: Ieti takes Dexter on an introductory tour to get him familiar with the gear.
Clinton: So how fit do you have to be for this job?
Ieti: I don’t think we really hold their fitness levels against them. It’s more a keenness of the job – if they’re really wanting to get in there and have a go then we’re more than open to having those people come through.
Clinton: Every prospective client or new member is shown around and explained the workings of the gym. Listen carefully, Dexter, because it’s your turn next.
Dexter: I think I’m up to the challenge. It will be difficult to just remember what I have to do, but I think I’m ready for it.
Customer: I was just wondering about joining the gym, and what’s involved, and the cost etc?
Ieti: OK, what I’ll do is I’ll pass you on to Dexter here.
Ieti: This industry is always growing, and at the moment because obesity is still unfortunately on the rise, we’re always going to be looking for new trainers. Personal training is in huge demand at the moment.
Clinton: Time for an evaluation.
Taryn: Dexter was really good. It is definitely very hard at first when you're working with kids and knowing what to do with them and how to get their attention. But he actually did very well.
Ieti: I think he did exceptionally well. He remembered quite a few of the things that we went over this morning, and a lot of those things are the important things that a lot of the clients need when they come through. I think he has the definite people skills that you need in a gym, and I think with a little bit of training and a little bit of guidance I think he’ll go far.
Dexter: The experience has been really good. I’ve enjoyed everything that everyone has taught me and I really liked working with the kids because they were just so fun to be around. I can see myself moving into these areas. If I do get into it, I would be very happy with what I have chosen.
Clinton: To work in the sports, fitness and recreation industry you need to be at least 16 years old and it’s highly recommended to have a certificate in first aid. All staff work towards a national certificate in their chosen field. Most of the training and assessments take place in the workplace itself. Wages vary. Working in a recreation centre, you could earn between $11 and $20 per hour. Pool supervisors and lifeguards usually earn between $11 and $15 per hour, fitness instructors $11 to $20 per hour, and personal trainers between $35 and $80 per hour.
To become a recreation co-ordinator you need to have a First Aid Certificate, or get one as soon as you start work. It's an advantage if you have a degree, diploma or certificate in a recreation area such as:
- leisure studies
- physical education
- sports administration
- community recreation.
Most employers also prefer you to have a driver's licence.
The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children.
A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include physical education, English, economics and maths.
Recreation co-ordinators need to be:
- enthusiastic and patient
- mature and responsible
- good communicators
- good leaders and able to motivate others
- able to get on with a wide range of people
- well organised, with planning and project management skills
- able to work well under pressure to meet deadlines.
You definitely need to be patient. You're dealing with kids that sometimes don't want anything to do with you, or children that have got to the stage where PE isn't cool, and you have to do some serious encouragement to get them going.
Claire Hammond - Recreation Co-ordinator
Useful experience for recreation co-ordinators includes:
- coaching a sport
- involvement in recreational activities or hobbies
- an interest or participation in sport.
Recreation co-ordinators must have a good level of physical fitness.
Find out more about training
- NZ Recreation Association
- 04 801 5598 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.nzrecreation.org.nz/
What are the chances of getting a job?
Sport New Zealand is aiming to boost public participation rates in sports and recreation activities, which will mean some more job opportunities for recreation co-ordinators, although they also aim to increase volunteers' contributions.
Types of employers varied
Recreation co-ordinators can work for a variety of employers, including:
- local authorities, such as city and district councils
- schools and universities
- sport groups, clubs, and recreation centres
- government agencies, such as Sport New Zealand.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2013.
- Skills Active website, accessed November 2013, (www.skillsactive.org.nz).
- Sport New Zealand, 'Strategic Plan 2012 -2015', accessed November 2013, (www.sportnz.org.nz).
Last updated 14 August 2017