Top 11 Recreation Coordinator Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top certifications available for recreation coordinators, including requirements and benefits.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications are important for a recreation coordinator in the job market because they demonstrate that the individual has a certain level of professional knowledge and expertise. Certifications provide employers with assurance that the recreation coordinator is adequately trained to fulfill the requirements of the position. Additionally, certifications can help demonstrate to potential employers that the recreation coordinator is committed to continuing their professional development and staying up-to-date on current trends in the field. Having certifications can also help a recreation coordinator stand out from other applicants and show that they have taken extra steps to be an excellent candidate for the position.

This article reviews some of the top certifications for Recreation Coordinators and explains how they can help further a Recreation Coordinator's career.

What are Recreation Coordinator Certifications?

Recreation coordinator certification is a professional credential that can help recreation coordinators demonstrate their expertise in the field of recreation. It is offered by several organizations, including the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA).

Recreation coordinators with this certification have proven their knowledge and experience in overseeing recreational programs in a variety of settings. They have also demonstrated an understanding of program planning, evaluation, marketing, budgeting, staffing management, risk management, and other areas related to running successful recreational programs.

Having a recreation coordinator certification can open up new job opportunities and provide salary increases for those already working in the field. It also serves as evidence that they are qualified to work with people of all ages and abilities in a variety of recreational activities. This certification can provide employers with confidence that they are hiring an experienced professional who has a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to manage successful recreation programs.

In short, becoming certified as a recreation coordinator can help individuals prove their knowledge and proficiency in the field while also providing them with more career options and greater earning potential.

Pro Tip: If you are looking to become a Recreation Coordinator, be sure to check your state's certifications requirements as they may vary. Additionally, consider obtaining additional certifications such as CPR/First Aid and First Responder training which can help demonstrate your knowledge and commitment to the profession.

Related: What does a Recreation Coordinator do?

Top 11 Recreation Coordinator Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Recreation Coordinators today.

1. Certified Recreation Professional (CRP)

Certified Recreation Professional (CRP) is a professional certification offered by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). It is designed to recognize professionals who have demonstrated a high level of knowledge, skills, and abilities in the recreation field. The CRP is awarded to those who demonstrate expertise in areas such as park planning, programming, operations, and management.

To become certified as a CRP, applicants must meet certain educational and experience requirements. Applicants must have at least a bachelor’s degree in recreation or related field from an accredited college or university. They must also have at least three years of full-time professional experience in the recreation field. In addition, applicants must pass an exam that tests their knowledge of the NRPA’s standards for professional practice.

The cost for taking the exam varies depending on the location where it is taken and whether or not the applicant has been previously certified by the NRPA. Generally speaking, it costs between $125-$200 to take the exam.

Once an applicant passes the exam, they will be officially certified as a Certified Recreation Professional (CRP). This certification is valid for five years before it needs to be renewed. Renewal requires completing continuing education credits and paying a renewal fee of $50-$100.

2. Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP)

Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) is a professional certification offered by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). It is designed to recognize the knowledge, experience, and dedication of park and recreation professionals.

To earn the CPRP credential, individuals must demonstrate their commitment to the field by completing a comprehensive set of educational requirements, including a combination of coursework, workshops, seminars, or other approved learning activities. In addition to these educational requirements, applicants must have at least two years of full-time paid work experience in the field of park and recreation management.

The entire process typically takes between one and two years to complete depending on an individual's prior education and experience. The cost for taking the exam ranges from $200-$300 depending on whether you are an NRPA member or non-member.

3. Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS)

A Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) is a professional who has met the eligibility requirements and passed the certification exam administered by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC). CTRSs are highly trained professionals who specialize in using recreation and leisure activities to improve the physical, mental, emotional, and social functioning of individuals with disabilities or special needs.

It typically takes two to three years of full-time study to become a CTRS. The minimum educational requirement to become a CTRS is a bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation or a related field. Many states also require that applicants have at least one year of supervised experience in therapeutic recreation before taking the certification exam.

To get certified as a CTRS, you must first meet the eligibility requirements established by NCTRC. After meeting these requirements, you can apply for the certification exam which is administered twice each year at various locations across the United States. The cost of taking the exam is $275 USD.

4. Certified Inclusive Recreation Professional (CIRP)

Certified Inclusive Recreation Professional (CIRP) is a certification program that provides training and education in the field of recreation and leisure services for individuals with disabilities. The program is designed to increase the professional competency of recreation professionals who work with individuals with disabilities.

The CIRP certification program consists of two levels: Level 1 Certified Inclusive Recreation Professional (CIRP-1) and Level 2 Certified Inclusive Recreation Professional (CIRP-2). To become a CIRP-1, an individual must complete a minimum of 30 hours of coursework in topics related to inclusive recreation, such as disability awareness, programming for people with disabilities, and legal issues related to inclusion. To become a CIRP-2, an individual must have completed the CIRP-1 coursework plus an additional 20 hours of coursework in topics such as therapeutic recreation, adaptive equipment use, and behavior management.

The CIRP certification program is offered through the National Council on Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC). To get certified, individuals must meet certain eligibility requirements including having at least three years of experience working with people with disabilities or having completed at least 45 hours of college credit in recreation or leisure studies. Individuals must also pass a written exam administered by NCTRC.

The cost to become certified varies depending on whether you are taking the CIRP-1 or CIRP-2 exam. The fee for the CIRP-1 exam is $225 and the fee for the CIRP-2 exam is $325.

5. National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC)

The National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) is a professional certification program that recognizes the competencies of qualified therapeutic recreation specialists. It is designed to ensure that individuals have the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to provide safe and effective therapeutic recreation services.

To become certified, individuals must meet certain requirements, which include passing an exam and completing a minimum of 48 credit hours of approved coursework in therapeutic recreation or a related field. In addition, applicants must submit verification of at least 400 hours of supervised clinical experience in the field.

The exam is administered by Prometric Testing Centers throughout the United States and Canada. The cost of taking the exam is $250 USD ($375 CAD). The entire certification process typically takes between six months to one year to complete.

Once certified, individuals are required to maintain their certification through continuing education activities every three years. Renewal fees are $125 USD ($190 CAD).

6. National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA)

The National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) is a professional organization that serves as the governing body for collegiate intramural and recreational sports in the United States. It was founded in 1950 and currently has over 4,000 members representing more than 800 colleges and universities. NIRSA works to promote healthy lifestyles through educational programs, research initiatives, and advocacy efforts related to intramural and recreational sports.

It takes about 2-3 weeks to become a NIRSA member. The process involves filling out an online application form, submitting payment of membership dues, and providing proof of current employment at a college or university. Membership dues are based on the size of the institution you represent. For example, small institutions (less than 5,000 students) pay $225 per year while large institutions (more than 15,000 students) pay $500 per year.

NIRSA membership provides access to resources such as conferences and workshops, training materials, networking opportunities with other professionals in the field, discounts on products and services related to intramural and recreational sports, legal advice from experts in the field, access to job postings from around the country, and much more. Additionally, members can take advantage of exclusive discounts on travel expenses when attending NIRSA events.

7. American Red Cross Lifeguard Training & First Aid/CPR/AED Certification

The American Red Cross Lifeguard Training & First Aid/CPR/AED Certification is a comprehensive program designed to teach individuals the skills and knowledge necessary to become certified lifeguards. The program includes training in water rescue, first aid, CPR/AED, and other lifesaving techniques. It also covers topics such as accident prevention, emergency response, and professionalism.

The program typically takes about 30 hours to complete and can be taken in a variety of formats including online, blended learning (online with instructor-led components), or in-person courses. It is recommended that participants take the course over a two-week period to ensure they have enough time to practice their skills and pass the final exam.

To get certified, you must successfully complete all course requirements including passing the final written exam with a score of 80% or higher. You must also demonstrate proficiency in all required skills during an evaluation by an instructor. Once you have completed all requirements, you will receive your certification card which is valid for two years from the date of issue.

The cost of the American Red Cross Lifeguard Training & First Aid/CPR/AED Certification varies depending on where you take the course and how it’s delivered (online vs in-person). Generally speaking, the cost ranges from $200-$400 USD for online courses and $300-$500 USD for in-person courses.

8. Wilderness First Responder Certification

Wilderness First Responder (WFR) Certification is a comprehensive medical training program designed to prepare people for medical emergencies in remote settings. The certification is widely recognized as the standard for wilderness medical training and is offered by organizations such as SOLO, Wilderness Medicine Institute, and National Outdoor Leadership School.

A WFR certification typically takes 8-10 days to complete and includes both classroom instruction and hands-on practice scenarios. During the course, students learn how to assess and treat injuries, illnesses, and environmental conditions that can occur in a wilderness setting. Topics covered include: patient assessment, wound care, splinting techniques, CPR/AED use, evacuation planning, altitude illness prevention/treatment, hypothermia/frostbite management, environmental hazards such as lightning strikes and poisonous plants/animals.

In order to receive WFR certification, participants must be at least 18 years old and have completed an approved course with a passing grade of 80%. Upon completion of the course, participants will receive a certificate valid for three years from the date of issue.

The cost of a WFR certification varies depending on the organization offering it. Generally speaking, courses range from $500-$1000 USD per person.

9. Aquatic Facility Operator Certification

Aquatic Facility Operator Certification (AFO) is a certification program that provides aquatic facility operators with the knowledge and skills they need to safely operate and maintain aquatic facilities. The certification program consists of four courses: Aquatic Facility Operations, Aquatic Risk Management, Pool Maintenance and Water Chemistry.

The AFO certification process typically takes about two months to complete. To become certified, individuals must first complete the four required courses and pass the AFO exam with a score of 80% or higher. After successful completion of the exam, individuals will receive their AFO certification card from the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF).

The cost for the AFO certification program varies depending on which training provider you choose. Generally, it costs between $400-$600 for all four courses. In addition to this cost, there may be additional fees associated with taking the AFO exam, such as travel expenses or an administrative fee charged by NSPF for processing your application.

Overall, obtaining an AFO certification can be an excellent way to demonstrate your knowledge and commitment to safety in aquatic facility operations.

10. Playground Safety Inspector Certification

Playground Safety Inspector Certification is a certification program designed to train individuals in the principles of playground safety. This certification program is offered by the National Playground Safety Institute (NPSI), an organization dedicated to promoting safe play areas for children and adults. The certification program requires participants to complete a comprehensive course that covers topics such as playground design, hazard identification, maintenance, and inspection techniques.

The NPSI offers two levels of certification: Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) and Advanced Certified Playground Safety Inspector (ACPSI). To become certified at either level, applicants must pass an exam administered by the NPSI. The CPSI exam consists of multiple-choice questions on topics related to playground safety, while the ACPSI exam includes more advanced topics such as risk management and legal considerations.

The time required to obtain certification depends on the individual's experience level and ability to study for the exams. Generally speaking, it takes between four and six months for most people to become certified after they begin studying for the exams.

To get started with obtaining your certification, you will need to register with the NPSI online or by mail. Once registered, you will be provided with access to training materials including textbooks, videos, and practice exams. You will also receive information about upcoming exams in your area so you can plan accordingly.

The cost of obtaining your certification varies depending on which level you are pursuing and whether or not you choose to attend an in-person training session or take an online course instead. For example, registering for both levels of certification costs $495 if taken online or $595 if taken in person; however, taking just one level costs $295 online or $395 in person. Additionally, there may be additional fees associated with taking the actual exam depending on where it is administered.

11. Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI)

Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) is a professional certification program offered by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). It is designed to provide playground owners, operators, designers, installers, and inspectors with the knowledge and skills necessary to ensure that playgrounds are safe for children. The certification requires completion of a two-day training course, followed by a written examination.

The two-day course consists of lectures and hands-on activities covering topics such as playground safety standards and regulations, surfacing materials, equipment inspection techniques, risk management strategies, maintenance procedures, and accessibility requirements. Upon successful completion of the course and exam, individuals receive their CPSI certification.

The cost of the CPSI program varies depending on location but typically ranges from $400-$600. This includes the cost of tuition for the two-day training course as well as any applicable exam fees.

In order to become certified as a CPSI, individuals must be 18 years or older and have at least one year of experience in playground design or installation. Additionally, they must successfully complete the two-day training course and pass the written examination with a score of 70% or higher.

Do You Really Need a Recreation Coordinator Certificate?

The answer to this question depends on what you would like to do with a Recreation Coordinator Certificate. If you are interested in working as a recreation coordinator, then the answer is yes. A certification can provide evidence of your knowledge and experience in the field and can help you stand out when applying for jobs. It also demonstrates that you have taken the time to learn about the profession and have been certified by an accredited organization.

On the other hand, if you are looking to pursue recreational activities as a hobby or for personal fulfillment, then a Recreation Coordinator Certificate may not be necessary. Many recreational activities can be enjoyed without any specialized training or certification. However, if you are interested in working as a volunteer or paid staff member at a recreation center or campground, then having a certificate could be beneficial for acquiring such positions.

In summary, whether or not you need a Recreation Coordinator Certificate will depend on your career aspirations and goals within the field of recreation. If it is something that interests you professionally, then obtaining one could be beneficial for furthering your career prospects.

Related: Recreation Coordinator Resume Examples

FAQs About Recreation Coordinator Certifications

1. What is a Recreation Coordinator Certification?

Answer: A Recreation Coordinator Certification is a professional credential that certifies an individual's knowledge and skill in the field of recreation management. It confirms that individuals have the necessary qualifications to effectively plan, organize, and direct recreational activities for individuals and groups.

2. How do I become certified as a Recreation Coordinator?

Answer: To become certified as a Recreation Coordinator, you must meet certain eligibility requirements and pass an examination administered by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC). The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions divided into five sections: assessment, planning, implementation, evaluation, and professional responsibility.

3. How long does it take to get certified?

Answer: The certification process typically takes 6-8 months from start to finish. This includes completing all eligibility requirements, studying for the exam, taking the exam, and receiving your results.

4. What are the benefits of being a certified Recreation Coordinator?

Answer: Being a certified Recreation Coordinator offers many benefits including greater job opportunities, higher pay rates, more respect from colleagues and employers, increased credibility with clients/patients/participants/families, better recognition in the field of recreation management, and increased confidence in one’s ability to manage recreational activities effectively.

5. Is there any continuing education required for maintaining certification?

Answer: Yes! To maintain your NCTRC certification status you must complete at least 30 hours of approved continuing education every three years. This includes participating in workshops or conferences related to therapeutic recreation or completing online courses related to recreation management topics such as leadership skills or program development strategies.

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