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The BSA’s looking for a few good men and women to be professional Scouters

As a Scout, I had no idea they paid people to work for the Boy Scouts of America.

I just thought the district executives I saw at Scouting events were just really active volunteers who got to wear cool silver shoulder loops.

Now, of course, I realize district executives and other Scouting professionals are a vital part of the team that supports adult volunteers like you. They’re there to lay a stable foundation on which you can build a successful pack, troop, team or crew.

Oh, and they’re paid to do so.

Just like you can never have enough quality volunteers, the BSA continually searches for potential career employees who want a profession with a meaningful, rewarding purpose.

In other words: We’re hiring. Career opportunities for district executives span 25 different states, including Alabama, Wisconsin, Illinois, Connecticut, Ohio, California and New York.

What’s the job like? Let’s just say if you want a cubicle job where you fill out spreadsheets all day, look elsewhere.

This is the kind of career where you break free from the desk and get out in the community. You meet people, make new relationships and spread the word of Scouting.

Unlike other jobs, the final goal isn’t to make the company you work for rich. Your underlying goal is to bring the incredible Scouting movement to as many youth as possible.

While I’ve never been a district executive myself, I have met hundreds of these enthusiastic professional Scouters when they visit the BSA’s headquarters as part of their District Operations Basic training. They describe their job as anything but typical.

One Scouter from Washington told me he sees his office desk two times a week, tops. The rest of the time he’s out meeting with community leaders, helping form new Scout units and sharing ideas with volunteers.

A Scouter from Nebraska raved about the opportunity to work for an organization she actually believes in. Her job description is challenging but rewarding: Help build future leaders.

An Indiana district executive, Chris Snider, emailed to say professional Scouting is “one of the greatest things I’ve ever done in my life.” He spent eight years working in public safety and several more as a district commissioner before joining Scouting’s professional ranks.

What do professionals in Scouting do every day? Go here for more details, but here’s a summary:

The responsibilities are as broad as the tasks are varied, and no two days are the same for a typical Scouting district executive. No matter where they work, in the city, the suburbs, or the countryside, one thing is for certain — this is anything but a “cubicle” job.

Our field staff are typically found in the community, not behind a desk. The job of the professional Scouter is to inspire, recruit, train, and support the BSA’s adult volunteers. In addition, they work with community leaders to rally public support for Scouting.

Specific job requirements are available on the careers page, but the BSA says five skills are essential for a successful district executive:

  1. Ability to build and empower a team
  2. Ability to form relationships
  3. Salesmanship
  4. Time management skills
  5. Project management skills

This is an exciting time to be involved with Scouting as we enter our second century. Join us for the ride of your life.

27 Comments on The BSA’s looking for a few good men and women to be professional Scouters

  1. I have thought about applying for a DE position, but can I actively serve as a Pack leader and be a DE at the same time?

    • Yup. Don’t know you’d want to, but I suppose you could.

    • Chris Snider // March 3, 2014 at 9:29 am // Reply

      One of our DE’s in my council is an active Cubmaster, and he was when he was hired! It does take approval from the Scout Executive, but you can talk about it during your process!

  2. WisconsinFan2 // February 28, 2014 at 9:59 am // Reply

    Yes SarahBeth, yes you can. I was a professional scouter for 14 years and the first women hired in my council. I served my son’s cub scout unit as his den leader, and then moved on to Cub Master. Once he moved on to the troop I stepped back and served on the advancement committee. I know others who served their kids units as well. Also I got a week to go to camp that would not be charged against my vacation time. I hope they still do that! I have been out almost as long as I was in, but it was a very rewarding career.

  3. I have been trying for 5 years and I still cannot get hired. I wonder what I am doing wrong?

    • Steve Stockham // February 28, 2014 at 10:42 am // Reply

      You may not be doing anything wrong. It’s very possible that there were a number of very qualified candidates that also applied for the positions you were seeking and they got the job. I know for a fact that four exceptionally qualified finalists did NOT get the position that was just filled in our district! But despair not! There are many ways that you can still help with scouting! I don’t know a single district (let alone a council) that isn’t always looking for a good volunteer to help out at the district level in one capacity or another! Most of these positions are critical to proper operation of the district and end up working in close conjunction with the district executive(s).
      I don’t know your personal experience with scouting but I have been a division manager tasked with reviewing and hiring good candidates for positions in our company and previous related work experience is almost always a good indicator of future performance. Don’t give up and good luck!

      • Thanks Steve. In my interviews with various councils, the one reason they have not hired me is because they have hired locally. I have been in Scouting for 39 years. Served in many different positions. I am going to keep on trying until I get hired. Some day my ship will come. Until then, I will wait.

        • Just my 2 cents and worth less than that but some Scout Executives prefer to not hire volunteers. It is a very different job than what Scouters experience as a volunteer. It is a very demanding position. Requiring a lot of what is usually family time to attend meetings, Cub Scout sign ups, roundtables, district committee meetings, events, council meetings, staff meetings. Many councils span huge areas and travel expenses are either not covered or are covered a month behind. It can be very rewarding and challenging but don’t expect it to be anything like volunteering.

    • David…I hate to ask but do you have a 4 yr college degree…..without it it doesn’t matter that you can run circles around any or all current paid staff…they won’t hire you. A college degree is the #1 requirement for the job….doesn’t mean you can do the job its just required.

      • Bob,
        I have a AAS in Fire Science Tech., BA in Fire Service management, and a Masters in Ed. Leadership.

      • Christopher Snider // March 6, 2014 at 8:40 am // Reply

        Bob:

        Don’t say they won’t hire a person without a college degree… they hired me without any degree. There are paths to it, but certain conditions have to be met before you can be considered without one – time in the work force, Scouting background and experience, and the most important one… a Scout Executive who is willing to go to his boss (the Area Director) and ask for the exemption to be granted. I just got back from the class that used to be known as PDL1, which is now called District Operations Basic, and I had a chance to talk with the National HR Director and Talent Management Lead (call him a people-mover). They both said, the number of professionals without a degree is slowly on the rise, due to the military downsizing and workforce disillusionment in the civilian workforce, but they want the right kind of people to do the job.

        ME – I spent 8 years in the fire service and another 8 in retail, plus spent my time from 18 on as an Adult Scouter,progressively moving from unit positions to District and Council ones. After I found out I might be able to go work for the BSA as a professional during National Camp School, I talked to my Director of Field Service in my old council, and began the process, but he was very honest with me: There was NO WAY I would be hired in that council, that I would have to go elsewhere because my Exec viewed the degree requirement as firm FOR HIS AREA. So, I looked elsewhere, and found a great place to live and work (it’s been a rough winter, so saying that statement with a straight face is tough for me to do).

        Bottom line: It’s a Council-dependent decision (with the Area Director’s approval) on whether or not to hire someone without a degree. While it is listed first on the website for all the listings (and I fell victim to it a couple of times, the not having one), it’s not a requirement set in stone.

  4. Sang A. mendy // February 28, 2014 at 10:22 am // Reply

    I was a boy scout in Gambia from 1995/6 to 2001and was a member of the Gambia scout Band. A was the leader of 5th Kombo Troop in St Therese’s Junior Secondary School and the Founder of the Boys Scout in St Therese’s Primary School too. I assisted in forming Scouting in Funi Brefet too.Reviving the Scout Troop in St Marti’s Lower Basic School in Kartong Village. I assisted in so many leadership training in Gambia. During my schooling I play on leadership roll all the days of my schooling as a monitor a play on a leadership roll in my community as a President. Right now I’m in Spain and I am still working on the same roll because we as Gambians formed a Gambians association in Andalucia Region am among the founder. I was the secretary General since the foundation and right now I am the President. It as been sometimes now I was no long participating in scouting but I was looking forward on how I can be part of the Boy Scout of in Spain but yet still I have no body who can assist me to meet them. By the way my skype name is:sangmendy .Thanks. Till I get your reply Kim.

  5. It’s tough to survive off that kind of money and have a family. At least in the northeast.

  6. WisconsinFan2 // February 28, 2014 at 10:29 am // Reply

    As someone heavily involved in interviewing ask those who you have interviewed with what you could have done differently or what were they looking for? I am willing to talk to those who I didn’t offer a job to so that they know what was missing, or why someone else got the job.

    If you haven’t been getting interviews then take a look at your resume and application. What are you missing from the description posted? Are you really highlighting your accomplishments and your skills? One final question, are you willing to move? The BSA has a national hiring system. You need to be willing to move, and often, if you want to continue to progress. This may even mean for your first job in the profession.

  7. WisconsinFan2 // February 28, 2014 at 10:31 am // Reply

    Granted, I didn’t make a ton of money but I was paid what the local teachers were making in the area….of course the teachers will tell you it’s tough to survive off that kind of money and have a family as well.

  8. I will be looking into this once I graduate in May. Working at PTC has helped me network with professionals and other staff that is also working for the BSA. For any professionals, what is one item you are looking for in a future employee?

    Thanks,
    Patrick Lynch
    Yankee Clipper Council

    • First, the BSA usually requires a bachelors degree.
      Second, they are looking for people with people skills.
      Third, they are looking for people that make good decisions.
      Fourth, they are looking for people good at making sales.
      Fifth, a person that is willing to travel has a distinct advantage.
      Sixth, a training background is valuable.
      Seventh, you need good recommendations.
      Eighth, a Scouting background is not necessary, they train new professionals in Scouting. Also, most “Scouting” is done by the volunteers.
      Your job will be to recruit and train new volunteers, establish an effective fund raising team, organize new units, and oversee a healthy and vibrant Scouting program in the area you service. Any time a key volunteer role is vacant, you have to make sure the show still goes on. Failure is not an option.

  9. At age 49, I had 27 years experience as a physicist at a major research lab and 25 years experience as a Scouter. My employer told me & my colleagues we had a choice to relocate to a different state or to accept a generous early retirement package. I knew our local council had 2 openings for District Executives. I applied for one of these positions and was accepted. Hence, I chose early retirement from my previous job.

    I became the District Executive in my home council but in a district that was in a different county. I was not forced to move, but I did establish an office in a church in my district and did go out of my way to make sure that I was always accessible to people in the district virtually any time of day. Most locations were an hour’s drive away which made for some long days. On the other hand, some days I could work from home. My career as a District Executive, Senior District Executive and Member of Council Professional Staff lasted for 13 years, a very rewarding 13 years. It was different. As a physicist, I was working with things and ideas. As a professional I was working with people and selling Scouting. As in all sales work, I had to learn to accept rejection, but also enjoy every sale. I met many really great people, the leaders in the community. Now, 12 years after retiring from the BSA, I still have many friends I met in the district and am a council volunteer whenever they ask.

    The professionals that had children were still active in their children’s lives and if they were in Cub Scouts, they were active in their child’s pack. However, the time commitments of the career often conflicted with those of units. Fund raising and new unit development are mostly daytime activities. However, most meetings with volunteers are in evenings or on weekends. My wife loved her career as a high school teacher and relocation was not much of an option for us. She was very supportive of my career and attended most banquets I went to. I was able to stay in the same council for 13 years. This meant not pursuing more promotions which usually involve relocating as is true in many careers.

    My hobby became my career. My dad could never grasp the fact that I was paid to be a Boy Scout. My job permitted me to attend or teach a number of classes at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. I was still able to volunteer for National Jamborees and international jamborees. My wife and I had to plan our summer travel around my summer camp schedule.

    One condition of my employment with the BSA was to join a service club. I chose a Rotary club in my district. This allowed me to meet even more people. I am still a Rotarian in a club near my home and am active in Scouting Rotarians, an international fellowship. I like to travel and am able to enjoy meeting Rotarians and Scouters all over the world.

  10. I have always wanted to do this, but cannot as I do not have a degree and always wonder why the insistence on a degree, but no requirement for scouting experience. I have over 40 years in Scouting but that means less than a degree? Especially for what they want to pay.

    • It is worth noting that where an employer cannot tie the need for a degree to the job requirements, using a degree as a screening mechanism may be considered unlawful discrimination. It has been argued that such policies have a disparate impact on minority groups who are less likely to hold such degrees. Because those policies cannot be tied back to job requirements, they are unlawfully screening on race lines. There needn’t be intent (and often isn’t).

    • Chris Snider // March 3, 2014 at 9:35 am // Reply

      Jim:

      I HAVE NO DEGREE, and I am the quoted professional in the article. This is a vague answer, but I hope you’ll understand it… it really depends on the Council you want to work with. I could not get hired in the area where I lived originally, and applied out farther because I knew this fact. I ended up 700 miles away from home, because a council decided I was the right fit for their position.

      The requirement of a Bachelor’s Degree CAN BE WAIVED, but there are a specific set of circumstances where that can happen. If you are interested in applying, go to your local council and ask about where a degree can be waived. The screening process starts at the local council level, and the people there can help explain it.

  11. Professionals train the volunteers? At least in my council, that does not happen. Volunteers train volunteers, even for things like popcorn sales, FOS, and membership drives. Hopefully ScoutingU will put meld the trainings so that the volunteers and the professionals will speak more of the same language.
    My hat is off to all the professionals who put in so many hours for so little pay. They spend so many weekends and evenings with scouts and volunteers.

  12. If you love scouting as a volunteer don’t ever become a professional, it will kill scouting for you. Unless you love pressuring over extended volunteers to do more and give more money.

  13. Donald Swanson // February 28, 2014 at 11:01 pm // Reply

    Have loved scouting as long as I can remember. I am very active in OA currentlt am Lodge Chief . Varsity.Troop and every party of scouting. I have enjoy Jamboree. Sea Base and Philmont and will be doing Northern Tier this summer. I love scouting I would love to make it my career. I am a senior in high school and am wondering what I can do to improve my chances of making this a career.

    Thank you for your time,

    Donald Swanson

  14. Mary Ascher // March 2, 2014 at 10:08 am // Reply

    As a 30-year volunteer, my point of view would be that the volunteers train the new Distict Execs, not the other way around! (;-0)

  15. Yesterday's Scout // March 3, 2014 at 9:31 pm // Reply

    My take on it, after all these years: volunteers have to train the professionals, volunteers train other volunteers, most professionals are too busy raising funds and trying to increase the number of units (even if that means splitting functioning units into two nonfunctional units). The pay is not all that great. Lord help you if you have a poor FOS campaign.

  16. Every time I see this position pop up (which isn’t often) I think how much I’d love to do it. It’s a shame it pays so little for the work. Not that if needs to be a high paying job, but it seems like across the board it starts at less than 40k which, where I live, isn’t near enough to pay rent let alone a mortgage or lights, etc. Any know why if pays so little for a professional position?

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