Professional development is a core part of an effective recreation professional. Constant growth and education will not only enable you to reach higher positions, it will allow you to be more effective at everything you do. Many professionals these days are looking not only for professional development but certification, to legitimize their time spent learning and growing. By getting certified, you have greater career opportunities and advancement potential, enhanced quality of parks and recreation services nationwide, recognition for your accomplishments and ability to meet national standards, along with the expansion of your skills and knowledge through continuing professional development.
Here are some of the most popular certification programs available of recreation professionals:
The National Recreation and Park Association’s Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) Certification is probably the most popular certification program around. Not only is it one of the most credible, attaining the CPRP will show that you have met education and experience qualifications and it illustrates your commitment to the profession as well as your knowledge and understanding of key concepts within parks and recreation. To be eligible, you need to have a combination of a Bachelor’s degree and/or full-time experience on the field. For more information, go to NRPA’s Certification Programs page. Want to take it one step further? Once you have your CPRP, you can apply for your Certified Parks and Recreation Executive (CPRE) Certification.
Many community colleges have certifications for parks and recreation professionals. These differ by both region and institution so it would be best to research your local community colleges to see what is available. One piece of advice: speak to someone working at your local parks and recreation office to see if they can offer you guidance into what school or certificates you should obtain for the work you want to do.
If you live in Canada, most of the parks and recreation certification happens at a provincial level. Research the province you live in to see the different certificates available. Most Canadian colleges also have certification offered so you may want to seek that route as well.