This job series includes all classes of positions the duties of which are to provide or supervise nonprofessional services to visitors to parks, dams, and other sites of public interest. The work involves giving formal talks, interpreting natural and historic features, explaining engineering structures and related water resource developments, answering questions, guiding tours, and providing miscellaneous services to visitors. Incidental duties are performed in connection with responsibility for visitor safety and protection of historic and scientific objects and natural or engineering features.
The incumbent serves as a Visitor Services Intern through the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP). The employee will be assigned to a National Wildlife Refuge, Refuge Complex, Wetland Management District, or Regional Office. (Although the term “refuge” is used throughout this PD, this position description can reflect work in any of these organizations.) Work is directed towards providing the public with safe, accessible, and quality wildlife-dependent recreation opportunities (e.g., hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, environmental education and interpretation) as described in the Refuge Improvement Act of 1997. Work assignments are selected to ensure that the employee receives on-the-job training and exposure to a wide range of visitor services methods and practices from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which complement formal education in a relevant field of study from an accredited college or university.
A. Major Duties
At a visitor center information desk, answers visitors’ questions that are usually routine and repetitive and relate largely to factual situations, e.g., geographical location of facilities, trails, tour routes, boat ramps, and other recreational areas. Obtains and posts information to records, such as number of visitors, survey information on length of visitor stay, size of visiting parties, and patterns of visitor use. Maintains supply of information materials and other stock items. Sells books and other items. At an entrance station, answers visitors’ questions and explains regulations covering common refuge use situations (such as field station rules and regulations). Collects fees, sells permits, and safeguards and balances collected funds. Maintains records on accountable permits and stock items. Controls vehicular traffic. Presents limited interpretive talks, assists with the environmental program, and conducts tours of limited complexity that do not require extensive background knowledge. Operates audio visual equipment during interpretative talks, demonstrations, or meetings. Protects refuge natural and cultural resources by observing conditions and reminding visitors to stay out of closed or restricted areas. Reports situations which may harm resources. Follows practices appropriate to personal, visitor, and staff safety.Identifies and reports potential safety hazards to appropriate staff. Administers basic first aid when necessary. May operate passenger vehicles and light trucks, off-road vehicles such as all-terrain vehicles and snow machines, and small watercraft.
A. Major Duties
The employee spends at least 25 percent of the time performing one or a combination of the following duties:
Assist with environmental education program as activity or small group leader. Maintains equipment and supplies. Assists with overseeing the work of volunteers in a visitor center or on small work projects. Assists in planning volunteer recognition awards and events. Conducts a radio dispatch operation. Provides communications service for operational activities in areas such as emergency assistance, law enforcement, and firefighting support. Receives routine and emergency telephone and radio calls placed to refuge headquarters and maintains communications records including radio logs. Practices preventive enforcement of laws and regulations on the refuge. Explains regulations to visitors and provides information and advice on approved activities and on the refuge’s cultural, historical, and/or natural resources history and location. Contacts law enforcement personnel when the circumstances require formal enforcement of laws. Develops and conducts interpretive talks and guided tour programs, presenting facts that are usually limited in variety or change little over time such as facts about the life cycle of salmon or the annual migration cycle of migratory birds. Answers questions that are usually recurring and require knowledge of a limited variety of facts, events, circumstances, personalities, and natural characteristics identified with the site. Operates and performs minor maintenance on audiovisual equipment. Protects refuge natural and cultural resources by observing conditions and reminding visitors to stay out of closed or restricted areas. Reports situations which may harm resources. Follows practices appropriate to personal, visitor, and staff safety.Identifies and reports potential safety hazards to appropriate staff. Administers basic first aid when necessary.
In addition, the employee may also perform the following duties, which are not grade controlling:
At a visitor center information desk, answers visitors’ questions that are usually routine and repetitive and relate largely to factual situations, such as geographical location of facilities, trails, tour routes, boat ramps, and other recreational areas. Obtains and posts various information to records, such as number of visitors, survey information on length of visitor stay, size of visiting parties, and patterns of visitor use. Maintains supply of informative materials and other stock items; sells books and other items. Operates audio visual equipment for videos and other multi-media programs. At an entrance station, answers visitors’ questions and explains regulations covering common refuge use situations, such as refuge rules and regulations. Collects fees, sells permits, and safeguards and balances collected funds. Maintains records on accountable permits and stock items; and controls vehicular traffic. Presents limited interpretive talks and conducts tours of limited complexity that do not require extensive background knowledge. Assists with outreach activities such as working with “friends” groups or other partners. May operate passenger vehicles and light trucks, off-road vehicles such as all-terrain vehicles and snow machines, and small watercraft.
A. Major Duties
The employee spends least 25 percent of the time performing one or a combination of the following duties:
Develops and presents a variety of interpretive programs including orientation talks, conducted walks, and demonstrations to a variety of general public audiences or school groups. Initiates or assists with development or revision of interpretive materials, such as brochures, guidebooks, handouts, and exhibits. Operates a variety of audiovisual and other equipment used in connection with interpretive programs.
Prepares and conducts on- and off-site environmental education programs for a variety of audiences. Initiates or assists with development or revision of environmental education materials. Assists in conducting teacher training and orientation programs. Inventories and maintains stock of environmental education materials, equipment, and supplies.
Assists with recruitment and training of candidates for a volunteer program and assists in developing volunteer work projects and schedules for visitor services. May assist in developing and scheduling work projects for program areas outside of visitor services. Monitors progress of volunteer projects and drafts volunteer job descriptions and other volunteer materials. Prepares monthly and yearly volunteer reports for review prior to submittal. Assists in planning for and recognizing volunteers through as events, meetings, and awards.
Assists with the management of wildlife-dependent recreation opportunities such as hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, environmental education and/or interpretation as described in the Refuge Improvement Act of 1997 and with secondary recreational uses such as camping, picnicking, berry picking, boating, and horseback riding in support of one or more of the primary uses. Provides orientation, interpretive, and regulatory information relating to site specific regulations, hunting and fishing programs, and other visitor activities.
Assists with maintaining working relationships with Friends organizations and other partners by attending a variety of events and functions, giving informative talks, and asking for volunteer or other assistance.
Communicates effectively with visitors and staff by writing or through interpretive activities that aid in implementing the refuge’s outreach program. Drafts a variety of written materials including news releases, articles, correspondence, and event flyers to increase understanding of the Service mission, encourage attendance at or assistance with a special event, explain the goals and objectives of the refuge and its practices, or related issues.
Assists with issuing special permits for wildlife dependent recreation activities or other appropriate and compatible special events or activities.
In addition, the employee may also perform the following duties, which are not grade controlling:
Collects public use recreation fees such as boat launch, hunting, and fishing fees and sells entrance, weekly, annual and/or day use passes. Inventories, orders and maintains adequate collection supplies and information (fees payment envelopes, brochures, passes). Staffs information desks in visitor center or contact stations, providing interpretive, and orientation information to the public. Serves as roving interpreter on trails and visitor use areas. Monitors visitor facilities for safety, cleanliness, and accessibility; performs routine maintenance on visitor service facilities, and reports on or remedies obvious maintenance, health, and safety deficiencies. Assists with planning and designing visitor service facilities. Protects refuge natural and cultural resources by observing conditions and reminding visitors to stay out of closed or restricted areas. Reports situations which may harm resources. Follows practices appropriate to personal, visitor, and staff safety. Identifies and reports potential safety hazards to appropriate staff. Administers basic first aid when necessary. May operate passenger vehicles and light trucks, off-road vehicles such as all terrain vehicles and snow machines, and small watercraft.Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
The educational and training requirements for recreation workers vary widely with on the type of job. Full-time career positions usually require a college degree. Many jobs, however, require demonstrated knowledge of the activity or can be learned with only a short period of on-the-job training.
Education and training. The educational needs for people entering into this occupational field vary widely depending on the job and level of responsibility. For activity specialists, it is more important to have experience and demonstrated competence in a particular activity, such as art or kayaking, than to have a degree. Camp counselors often are older teenagers or young adults who have experienced camping as a child and enjoy the camping experience. A degree is less important than the counselor’s maturity level, ability to work well with children and teens, and ability to make sure that they stay safe.
Those working in administrative positions for large organizations or public recreation systems may need a bachelor’s degree or higher. Full-time career professional positions usually require a college degree with a major in parks and recreation or leisure studies, but a bachelor's degree in any liberal arts field may be sufficient for some jobs in the private sector. In industrial recreation, or “employee services” as it is more commonly called, companies that offer recreational activities for their employees prefer to hire those with a bachelor's degree in recreation or leisure studies and a background in business administration.
Employers seeking candidates for some administrative positions favor those with at least a master's degree in parks and recreation, business administration, or public administration. Most require at least an associate’s degree in recreation studies or a related field.
An associate’s or bachelor's degree in a recreation-related discipline, along with experience, is preferred for most recreation supervisor jobs and is required for most higher level administrative jobs. Graduates of associate’s degree programs in parks and recreation, social work, and other human services disciplines also can enter some career recreation positions. High school graduates occasionally enter career positions, but doing so is not common.
Programs leading to an associate’s or bachelor's degree in parks and recreation, leisure studies, or related fields are offered at several hundred colleges and universities. Many also offer master's or doctoral degrees in the field. In 2009, 89 bachelor's degree programs in parks and recreation were accredited by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). Accredited programs provide broad exposure to the history, theory, and practice of park and recreation management. Courses offered include community organization; supervision and administration; recreational needs of special populations, such as the elderly or disabled; and supervised fieldwork. Students may specialize in areas such as therapeutic recreation, park management, outdoor recreation, industrial or commercial recreation, and camp management.
Specialized training or experience in a particular field, such as art, music, drama, or athletics, is an asset for many jobs. Some jobs also require certification. For example, a lifesaving certificate is a prerequisite for teaching or coaching water-related activities.
The majority of seasonal and part-time workers learn through on-the-job training.
Licensure and certification. The NRPA certifies individuals for professional and technical jobs. Certified park and recreation professionals must pass an exam. In order to qualify to take the exam, individuals need to (1) have earned a bachelor's degree in a major such as recreation, park resources, or leisure services from a program accredited by the NRPA or have at least 1 year of experience if the program is not accredited; (2) have earned any other bachelor's degree and have at least 3 years of relevant full-time work experience; or (3) have at least 5 years of full-time experience in the field. Continuing education is necessary to remain certified.
Many cities and localities require lifeguards to be certified. Training and certification details vary from State to State and county to county. Information on lifeguards is available from local parks and recreation departments.
Other qualifications. People planning careers in recreation should be outgoing, good at motivating people, and sensitive to the needs of others. Excellent health and physical fitness often are required, due to the physical nature of some jobs. Time management and the ability to manage others also are important.
Advancement. Recreation workers start their careers working with people. As they gain experience, they may get promoted to positions with greater responsibilities. Recreation workers with experience and managerial skills may advance to supervisory or managerial positions. Eventually, they may become the director of a recreation department.Employment
Recreation workers held about 327,500 jobs in 2008, and many additional workers held summer jobs in the occupation. About 31 percent of recreation workers worked for local governments, primarily in park and recreation departments. About 16 percent of recreation workers were employed by nursing and residential care facilities, and another 10 percent were employed in civic and social organizations, such as the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts or the YMCA and YWCA.Job Outlook
Faster than average growth is expected. Jobs opportunities for part-time, seasonal, and temporary recreation workers will be good, but competition will remain keen for career positions as recreation workers.
Employment change. Overall employment of recreation workers is projected to increase by 15 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Although people will spend more time and money on recreation, budget restrictions in State and local government will limit the number of jobs added. Many of the new jobs will be in social assistance organizations and in nursing and residential care facilities. Civic and social organizations and fitness and sports centers will also contribute to growth.
Growth will be driven by the growing numbers of young and older Americans. The large numbers of births in recent years likely will increase the demand for recreation services for children, and retiring baby boomers are expected to have more leisure time, higher disposable incomes, and more concern for health and fitness than previous generations had. The latter factors should lead to an increasing demand for recreation services for baby boomers.
Job prospects. Applicants for part-time, seasonal, and temporary recreation jobs should have good opportunities, but competition will remain keen for career positions because the recreation field attracts many applicants and because the number of career positions is limited compared with the number of lower level seasonal jobs. Opportunities for staff positions should be best for people with formal training and experience in part-time or seasonal recreation jobs. Volunteer experience, part-time work during school, and a summer job are viewed favorably. Those with graduate degrees should have the best opportunities for supervisory or administrative positions. Job openings will stem from growth and the need to replace the large numbers of workers who leave the occupation each year.Earnings
In May 2008, median annual wages of recreation workers who worked full time were $21,960. The middle 50 percent earned between $17,680 and $28,810. The lowest paid 10 percent earned less than $15,630, while the highest paid 10 percent earned $37,730 or more. However, earnings of recreation directors and others in supervisory or managerial positions can be substantially higher. Most public and private recreation agencies provide full-time recreation workers with typical benefits; part-time workers receive few, if any, benefits. In May 2008, median annual wages in the industries employing the largest numbers of recreation workers were as follows:
Nursing care facilities $23,100 Individual and family services 22,260 Local government 21,890 Civic and social organizations 19,800 Other amusement and recreation industries 19,670
The large numbers of temporary, seasonal jobs in the recreation field typically are filled by high school or college students, generally do not have formal education requirements, and are open to anyone with the desired personal qualities. Employers compete for a share of the vacationing student labor force, and although salaries in recreation often are lower than those in other fields, the nature of the work and the opportunity to work outdoors are attractive to many.
Part-time, seasonal, and volunteer jobs in recreation include summer camp counselors, craft specialists, and afterschool and weekend recreation program leaders. In addition, many teachers and college students accept jobs as recreation workers when school is not in session. The vast majority of volunteers serve as activity leaders at local day camp programs or in youth organizations, camps, nursing homes, hospitals, senior centers, and other settings.Sources of Additional Information
For information on jobs in recreation, contact employers such as local government departments of parks and recreation, nursing homes and other residential facilities, the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, and other local social or religious organizations.
For information on careers, certification, and academic programs in parks and recreation, contact:
- National Recreation and Park Association, 22377 Belmont Ridge Rd., Ashburn, VA 20148-4501. Internet: http://www.nrpa.org
For information about a career as a camp counselor, contact:
- American Camp Association, 5000 State Road 67 North, Martinsville, IN 46151-7902. Internet: http://www.acacamps.org
Information on obtaining Student Trainee Park Ranger positions with the Federal Government is available from the Office of Personnel Management through USAJOBS, the Federal Government's official employment information system. This resource for locating and applying for job opportunities can be accessed through the Internet at http://www.usajobs.gov or through an interactive voice response telephone system at (703) 724–1850 or (703) 724–1850 or TDD (978) 461–8404 and (978) 461–8404. These numbers are not toll free, and charges may result. For advice on how to find and apply for Federal jobs, download the Insider's Guide to the Federal Hiring Process” online here.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition; and
- Office of Personnel Management, Position Classification Standards.