When you talk about the sports industry, most people envision the games and events that shape the cultural definition of sports. The game winners, walk-offs and championships are at the forefront of all sports discussions.
But to think of sports only through the minuscule lens of the events we see broadcast would be to misunderstand the sports industry as a whole. There are a countless array of opportunities for sports career minded individuals that don't require elite athleticism.
Only .00525% of the US population will go on to become a professional athlete, so it seems appropriate to highlight ten potential sports career options for those who want to work behind the scenes in sports management.
How Do I Become Qualified to Work in Sports?
Before we delve into the potential sports careers available behind the scenes, it's important to discuss how to make yourself attractive to people hiring for these positions. A passion for sports isn't enough to break into the multi-billion dollar worldwide sports industry, you need knowledge and skills.
Sports management programs focus on the business and administrative aspects of the industry including sales, marketing, sponsorship, branding, operations, and economics. This is a growing field of study, and while not all people are fans of these degree programs, they are highly successful in training graduates about the inner workings of the sports industry.
While graduates of a Master of Science in Sports Management is often the preferred degree for these positions, MBAs are also acceptable credentials since business administration degrees focus on a corporate view of the sports industry. For further studies, a Ph.D. in Sports Management delves into the psychological and psychosocial impact of sports and is best served for those who want to go into research or teaching.
Here are ten sports management jobs to help give you an idea of the opportunities available:
Account Manager/Account Executive
An account manager mediates between the business and the client.
As an account manager of a specific sports personality or company – like, say, one for sports attires or media outlets – you’ll be responsible for selling your product while keeping in mind the client’s own needs.
Like other account managers in other industries, you may need to handle several sports accounts and clients at once, but it can be manageable with the skills you’ll be equipped with after finishing your undergraduate degree. This is where your business background will come in really handy.
Expected annual salary: There is no fixed estimate for sports account managers, although you can take a guess and look at other sports management job salaries – that places it at around $127,130
A sports agent handles all the legal and corporate responsibilities of the athletes they represent. They also act as professional athlete’s advisers when it comes to signing contracts and negotiating deals with companies and brands.
A good sports agent always finds the best deal for their athlete, that’s why you need to be proficient in the language of business and negotiating with others.
Expected annual salary: $64,200 starting
Famous Personalities: Scott Boras, agent for Major League Baseball’s top players
Inside Sales Representative
This is a great entry-level position for fresh graduates or young professionals in the sports management industry. Jobs in inside sales are almost always available with professional and minor league sports teams who need help selling individual and group tickets.
Learning to deal with various consumers and departments hones your interpersonal skills and improves the way you negotiate and do business with others. Most sales representative are a form of marketing consultant to their clients as they are tasked with helping them find the right product to satisfy their needs.
Expected annual salary: $45,000~ (majority of salary is based on commission)
Public Relations Assistant
The PR department also builds a team or athlete’s professional image. They are responsible for handling damage control (if there is any), and directly coordinating with sports executives to communicate with media contacts during any press releases and announcements.
Expected annual salary: $57,000
Similar to a fitness director, a sports event coordinator also oversees programs and other events either for major sports competitions or small fitness activities. However, their skills in business, marketing, and organizational logistics, are still as necessary in this position as anywhere else.
Event coordinators need a keen eye for detail, and a thorough understanding of various people’s needs in a specific environment, and for the specific physical activity at hand. They also assist teams to their hotels and ensure that accommodations work well for everyone
Expected annual salary: $33,000 - $55,000
General Managers have an overarching responsibility to manage a sports team’s business transactions and deals. They’re responsible for overseeing revenue and budget allocation, hiring head coaches, draftinf players, and acting as the media spokesperson during press conferences.
This great position often comes bundled with plenty of responsibilities, but there is a great salary too.
Expected annual salary: $112,200 starting in the minor leagues, much higher in professional sports
As the position title suggests, a marketing manager’s core responsibilities lie in marketing the athlete or sport’s company’s brand. Creating a suitable image for the fans and/or consumers is the main concern of a marketing manager.
In order to do this, you’ll need to coordinate with other departments or industry agents, which is when you’ll need to bring out your learned skills from business school and your sports-savvy.
Expected annual salary: $127,130
Fitness directors veer a bit off track from the center of athletic competition and orbit around general wellbeing for those who may or may not be athletes or sports enthusiasts themselves. Fitness directors are responsible for implementing and organizing group and fitness activities, overseeing the logistics for these activities, and maybe even starting their own programs to spread awareness for wellness.
A fitness director need not necessarily have a bachelor’s degree in sports management – although an MA in the field would certainly come in handy. Most fitness directors are expected to have majored in Fitness Management first.
Expected annual salary: $41,000~
As with any discipline, there’s never a shortage of professorial positions for people in sports management. A degree in Sports Management is necessary to fit into this position, and possibly further studies into the masters, doctoral, and post-doctoral degrees to get higher up in the educational ladder.
Of course, like other university professors, aside from teaching duties, you’re expected to engage in research work and publication as well in your chosen field.
Expected annual salary: In 2011, the national salary for university professors ranged somewhere between $72,000 to $95,000
Famous personalities: Former Minnesota Vikings and the Arizona Cardinals coach, Dennis Green
Stacey Marone is a contributing writer for scholaradvisor.com. In her spare time, Stacey prefers going on long walks and admiring the view. When she isn’t writing or strolling, she also enjoys engaging in physical activities. Her favorite sports include swimming and volleyball.
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