Oregon Labor Market Information System
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Amusement and Recreation Jobs, Beyond the Happiest Place on Earth
by Kim Thompson
Published Mar-25-2013

Yes, there is an official occupation for amusement and recreation attendants! Attendants can schedule the use of recreational facilities, maintain and provide equipment to participants of sporting events or recreation pursuits, or operate amusement concessions and rides. In Oregon, employment within this occupation falls largely into arts, entertainment, and recreation industries. No real surprise to Oregonians, but the variety of job duties found within this occupational category might surprise you.

In 2011, more than 250,000 people were employed as amusement or recreation attendants in the United States and 2,860 people were employed in Oregon. Due in part to the popularity of theme parks, California and Florida employ the most amusement and recreation attendants. Although Oregon is not among the states with the highest employment levels for this occupation, we do have a healthy recreational economy. Geographically, recreation employment in Oregon is concentrated within metropolitan areas, with the highest concentration in the Portland Metropolitan Area.

Nationally, the mean (or average) annual wage is $9.60 an hour for amusement and recreation attendants. Locally, the statewide average hourly wage is slightly higher at $9.84 an hour. Within the state, there are five regions paying higher than the statewide average hourly wage (Graph 1). Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson counties pay the most at $10.57 an hour.

Graph 1
Highest-paid regions fro recreation attendants
Bowling Anyone?
Recreation attendants are associated with a variety of business activities including bowling centers, sporting events, fitness clubs, golf courses, marinas, ski slopes, arcades, and amusement parks. Two-fifths of the total employment in the arts and recreation industry is associated with fitness and recreational sports centers. Golf courses come in at 21 percent of the total employment.

Oregonians Hit the Slopes in the Winter
Due to the proximity to rivers, lakes, and mountains, outdoor recreation is a mainstay of the economy in Oregon. According to surveys conducted in 2011 and 2012 for the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation generates $12.8 billion in consumer spending in Oregon annually. With several ski slopes in close proximity to major cities in Oregon, it is no surprise that employment for recreation attendants is strong in the winter months.

Recreation Attendants Have a Fast-Pass to Employment
Amusement and recreational attendant jobs generally require little to no formal education to get started. Those with a high school diploma or equivalent have an advantage in the labor market. Short-term, on-the-job training is generally needed once employed in this occupation.

Required skills involve basic cash handling, ability to use a cash register, and knowledge of sales techniques. Of course, specialized knowledge and skills can come in handy when working at a ski facility, golf course, marina, or other recreational venue. Those job seekers who can demonstrate conflict resolution and customer service techniques have a competitive edge. Amusement and recreation attendant skills are most transferable to the entertainment field including ushers, lobby attendants, and gaming workers.

Employment in this occupation is expected to grow at a somewhat faster rate than the statewide average for all occupations. Reasonable employment opportunities exist, largely due to the need to fill replacement openings created by workers permanently leaving the occupation. Multnomah and Washington counties expect the most annual openings by 2020 (Table 1). Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson counties are projected to have the next highest, followed by the Salem Metro Area, and Clackamas and Lane counties, respectively.

The minimal work experience and educational requirements required to step into this type of work combined with availability of seasonal employment can make this occupation appealing to job seekers entering the job market for the first time.

Table 1
Regional Employment Projections for Amusement and Recreation Attendants, 2010-2020
  Employment   Percent   Projected Annual Openings
Region 2010 2020   Change   Growth Replacement Total
Multnomah/Washington 1,195 1,392   17%   20 74 94
Crook/Deschutes/Jefferson 338 373   10%   4 20 24
Marion/Polk/Yamhill 289 324   12%   4 18 21
Clackamas 273 321   18%   5 17 22
Lane 166 193   16%   3 10 13
Jackson/Josephine 158 175   11%   2 10 11
Benton/Lincoln/Linn 146 165   13%   2 9 11
Coos/Curry 97 111   14%   1 6 7
Clatsop/Columbia/Tillamook 65 74   14%   1 4 5
Douglas 57 67   18%   1 4 5
Klamath/Lake 47 58   23%   1 3 4
Gilliam/Hood River/ Sherman/Wheeler/Wasco 45 50   11%   1 3 3
Morrow/Umatilla 33 40   21%   1 2 3
Baker/Union/Wallowa 22 25   14%   0 1 2
Grant/Harney/Malheur 16 16   0%   0 1 1