Cool Jobs that Pay Well

gym manager

Cool jobs that pay well are the holy grail of employment. Keep in mind that the standards "cool" and "pay well" are subjective targets that may change based on your personal preferences, local cost of living and expected career benefits. Think about your interests and your hobbies and ask yourself whether or not you can change careers to job that feels more like a livelihood.

Active Cool Jobs that Pay Well

If you spent hours playing games and sports as a kid or you love spending time in the great outdoors, you may want to explore active career choices. Most people graduate high school or college and think the next natural step in their career will be business, teaching, health care or technology, but they overlook the things they enjoy as a potential source of income. There are a number of cool jobs in sports, fitness and recreational management that allow you to use your passion while earning a living. While you may have to work your way up to a sizeable salary, the flexibility, creativity and activity involved often make the career worthwhile.

Recreation Management Magazine found in its annual salary survey that salaries within the recreational field rose by an average of five percent. While the survey didn't break down salaries by job type, almost 80 percent of respondents held positions as a director, manager or CEO of the facility. Overall respondents worked between 46 to 50 hours each week, and an overwhelming 91.8 percent majority of respondents found their jobs either satisfying or very satisfying.

Health Club Director or Owner

Health club directors can expect to manage the business operations of a fitness facility, managing sales, customer service and overall facility maintenance. Depending on the size of the facility, these positions may be very hands on, or may have a number of managers reporting to them. Positions that may lead up to a position as a health club director include: club sales manager, personal training manager, sports and fitness manager, aquatics managers or operations managers. The average reported salary for a health club director was $61,000 per year. The director of a large facility can easily expect to earn a six-figure salary.

YMCA President or CEO

Like the directors of a health club, the President or CEO of a YMCA must manage the overall business and programming of a YMCA facility. YMCAs often offer numerous children's programs like swim lessons, camps and sports leagues, so it's likely that camp managers and sports managers could move up into the CEO position with time. The average reported annual salary was $67,800.

Director of Parks and Recreation

Many cities offer recreational opportunities for their community in the form of parks, open spaces, community centers and sports leagues. Someone has to make sure these programs run smoothly and on budget. The average park and recreation director can expect to make roughly $65,000 a year, but large cities pay considerably more than that, with salaries reaching close to $150,000 per year. The same holds true for campus recreation directors at colleges and universities.

Country Club Executive Director

If you're drawn toward beautiful facilities with upscale amenities like tennis courts, swimming pools, restaurants, bars and golf courses, you may want to pursue management within a country club. Golf Pros and Tennis Pros and Restaurant Managers often have the opportunity to move up, but this is one area where who you know matters at least as much as what you know. The average executive director can expect to make $91,000 annually.

Before They Were Directors

As with most careers, it's rare to be able to jump directly into a director position. Pursuing an education in exercise science, recreation, environmental science or business can put you in a position to enter the recreational field. Also, taking jobs as a lifeguard, personal trainer, sports official or camp counselor will help pad your resume and help you get cool jobs that pay well. Entry level and middle management positions as Aquatics Coordinators, Recreational Programmers and Sports Managers can pay between $24,000 and $70,000 per year, depending on the size and type of organization.

Where to Look for Jobs

Are you interested in seeking employment in one of these fields? Search for positions on job boards like:


Careers within recreational management allow you to stay active, interact with people and utilize skills in customer service, finance and leadership.

Cool Jobs that Pay Well