Top Sports Management Careers

Resources on this page

Organizational Management

Specialize in organizational management if you want to become a coach, agent, or scout.

Public Relations and Marketing

Get the job outlook and salary range for careers in public relations and marketing in the sports industry.

Law

See how you can combine law and sports management to work as a sports mediator or labor relations specialist.

Apply to Jobs Using these Resources

Focus your job search with these sports oriented job sites.

Understand What a Sports Management Career Looks Like

When most people think of sports management, they imagine the wealthy backer of a prominent sport team calling the shots and signing new athletes. While that type of career does fall under the sports management umbrella, there are many more options with the degree. Broad knowledge of the athletic business and kinesiology will serve you well, but most students in this area benefit from choosing a specialization. Sports management graduates attain positions from general operations manager to special events planner, and it is a good idea to narrow down your area of focus while working on your degree so that you will have an advantage in specialized job markets.

Explore Popular Sports Management Specializations

In order to give you a better idea of your options, the most popular sports management careers and what it takes to become competitive in the field are listed below.

Organizational Management

Organizational managers look at the big picture of where a team or organization is headed. Students in this specialization can find jobs as general managers and athletic directors.

Agent/Business Manager of Athletes

Projected national job growth: 10-19%

Average Salary: $64,790/year

Entry-level Education: Bachelor’s degree

Job Description: Business mangers of individual athletes work to advance the careers of their clients. Their duties include developing marketing and promotional strategies, creating career development plans, creating a network of industry contacts, and managing finances for events, travel, and promotional materials.

Why would I want to do this? This career is ideal if you prefer a one-on-one approach to management. You will need excellent organizational, interpersonal and communication skills, as well as a solid background in sales or marketing. If you want to “discover” the next big athlete, this is the path for you.

Athletic Director

Projected national job growth: 19%

Average Salary: $83,710/year

Entry-level Education: Master’s degree

Job Description: The athletic director of a postsecondary school is responsible for developing athletic programs, arranging special events, training coaches and athletes, working within an annual budget, conducting fundraising, developing positive relationships with the community, and ensuring that athletic supplies and facilities are maintained and used correctly.

Why would I want to do this? Choose a career as an athletic director if you are passionate about sports and enjoy working with developing athletes. Postsecondary school is where many athletes learn the skills that allow them to be successful in the professional world, and the athletic director nurtures those skills. You will need a functional knowledge of many different sports, excellent interpersonal skills, and attention to detail.

Coaches and Scouts

Projected national job growth: 29%

Average Salary: $28,470/year

Entry-level Education: Associate’s degree

Job Description: Coaches and scouts find promising athletes and encourage them in their chosen field. They organize practices, offer exercise and nutritional advice, enroll athletes in competitions and tours, and develop proper technique to help athletes excel in their sport.

Why would I want to do this? Coaching and scouting is a perfect career if you are interested in fostering athletic ability. Experience in motivation, health and fitness, and the particulars of your sport of choice will all serve you well in this field.

Public Relations and Marketing

Public relations and marketing professionals are involved in developing brands and creating interest in their clients or events. Jobs in this field include marketing directors and public relations specialists.

General and Operations Manager

Projected national job growth: 3-9%

Average Salary: $95,150/year

Entry-level Education: Associate’s degree

Job Description: The general or operations manager sets long-term goals for the organization, ensures that financials are in order, manages staff and athletes, and oversees all other departments. These managers ensure that the individual parts of the organization work together to form a cohesive and successful whole.

Why would I want to do this? Pursue a career as a general manager if you like working on big-picture logistics of an organization and have strong leadership skills. Since the buck will stop with you, expect to take on a great deal of responsibility. General managers need to develop a working knowlege of how every part of their organization works together and a clear vision for the future. This career path is usually more focused on experience than education, so be prepared to work your way to the top.

Marketing Director

Projected national job growth: 10-19%

Average Salary: $116,010/year

Entry-level Education: Bachelor’s degree

Job Description: The marketing director conducts market research, creates and implements marketing strategies, monitors market trends, and manages other staff on the marketing team. A strong background in advertising is a major advantage.

Why would I want to do this? Choose a career as a marketing director if you enjoy working on the advertising aspect of the sports world. You will need a knack for creative problem solving and experience in sales and marketing. This is also a great career for people who enjoy conducting research.

Public Relations Specialist

Projected national job growth: 20-28%

Average Salary: $53,190/year

Entry-level Education: Bachelor’s degree

Job Description: A public relations specialist is responsible for the public image of their clients. They issue press releases to the media, create strategies for boosting public image, create and maintain ties to the community, and arrange public appearances, press conferences, contests, and other events. They also work closely with members of the marketing team to create promotional materials.

Why would I want to do this? Pursue a career as a public relations specialist if you have a strong interest in communication, customer service and marketing. This job is focused on making the customer happy about your company. Excellent writing and public speaking skills are a significant asset.

Sales Manager

Projected national job growth: 10-19%

Average Salary: $101,640/year

Entry-level Education: Bachelor’s degree

Job Description: The sales manager is responsible for training and directing the sales team, working closely with the marketing team to develop strategies, speaking with important customers to see that their needs are met, and resolving customer complaints.

Why would I want to do this? Choose a career as a sales manager if you have a love of sales and a competititive nature. Excellent customer service and leadership abilities are a must in this field.

Sports Law

Specializing in sports law prepares students to work with the rules, regulations and legal aspects of sports. Graduates with this specialization can find work as a sports mediator/arbitrator or labor relations specialist.

Labor Relations Specialist

Projected national job growth: 20-28%

Average Salary: $54,310/year

Entry-level Education: Bachelor’s degree

Job Description: A labor relations specialist works with labor unions in order to create mutually beneficial agreements, resolve disputes and investigate complaints, create contract proposals throughout the collective bargining process, and negotiate agreements. This job requires excellent interpersonal skills and a working knowledge of contract law.

Why would I want to do this? You will want to pursue a calling in labor relations if you are passionate about ensuring fair conditions for workers and athletes. You will need strong oral and verbal communication skills, and keep yourself updated on current laws and changing labor policies

Sports Mediator/ Arbitrator

Projected national job growth: 10-19%

Average Salary: $60,440/year

Entry-level Education: Bachelor’s degree

Job Description: A sports mediator brings two disputing parties together, whether coaches and athletes, or staff and supervisors, and helps them find a mutually benificial and legally valid settlement. They conduct hearings, gather evidence, and draft settlement agreements.

Why would I want to do this? A career in sports mediation or arbitration if you have exceptional interpersonal skills, excellent public speaking abilities, and a gift for persuasive argument. You will be working with clients with high emotions, and sometimes will need to deal with complex legal situations.

Special Events

Special events workers specialize in making sporting events, fundraising dinners, conferences, and other occasions come together. Graduates find careers in special events planning and food and beverage management.

Food and Beverage Manager

Projected national job growth: 3-9%

Average Salary: $48,110

Entry-level Education: High school

Job Description: A food and beverage works special events to ensure that catering deliveries arrive, food is prepared correctly and meets health regulations, and coordinate staff. These professionals work closely with special events managers to ensure that promotional events go smoothly.

Why would I want to do this? Pursue a career in food and beverage management if you are interested in working with both sports professionals and caterers. You will need excellent organizational and customer service skills to succeed in this field.

Special Events Planner

Projected national job growth: 29%

Average Salary: $46,020/year

Entry-level Education: Associate’s degree

Job Description: Special events planners organize services for events, including entertainment, food, security, first aid, and transportation. They are responsible for complying with local laws and regulations, communicating with customers to determine special needs, staying within budget, and finding sponsors to donate to the event.

Why would I want to do this? Pursue a career as a special events planner if you are strongly organized and enjoy the fast pace of special events. You will need to keep track of many details and work with multiple vendors, talent, and employees.

Finance

Finance professionals maintain accurate financial records, create and maintain budgets, and raise funds for events and equipment. Graduates in this specialization are likely to work as fundraising managers. Accountants may also work in the field, but it is more beneficial to get a degree in Accounting and then make the move into sports.

Fundraising Manager

Projected national job growth: 10-19%

Average Salary: $93,310/year

Entry-level Education: Bachelor’s degree

Job Description: Fundraising Managers work to raise money for special events, sports equipment, and other programs essential to running an organization. They develop relationships with local government and community organizations to help fund the organizations they work with.

Why would I want to do this? If you have a gift for developing interpersonal relationships and can make a persuasive argument, choose a career as a fundraising manager. You will need to keep diligent records and manage a staff. Prior sales experience will serve you well in this field.

Apply to Jobs Using these Resources

It can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to searching for sports management jobs. We can help by narrowing down your options to select search sites, professional organizations, subject-specific sites, and government job boards.

Sports-Oriented Job Sites

Sites dedicated specifically toward jobs in sports will cut down on wasted time. A few sites that list only sports jobs charge a membership fee, but depending on your area of expertise, it may be worth it to gain access to a wider variety of employment oppotunities.

AAHPERD Career Link - The information from the this professional association is reliable and relevant to your sports management job hunt.

The Field - This site provides a wide array of searchable sports related jobs.Jobs In Sports – This site offers a wide range of sports employment opportunities without making you sort through unrelated search results.

NASSM Career Services - The North American Society for Sports Management offers information on available jobs and internships while keeping you up to date on relevant conferences.

Sports Careers - This site offers a search function by region and has a number of excellent job postings.

Work In Sports - This site has a number of listings for sports related jobs, but requires a membership fee.

Women’s Sports Jobs - This site is geared exclusively towards women’s sports careers. It has not only job listings, but also career resources such as résumé assistance.

Specific Sports Organizations

These sites are organization-specific, which means fewer listings. The jobs available are prestigious, however, and well worth pursuing for your career.

ESPN Careers - If you live near Bristol, Connecticut, or if are willing to relocate, look for jobs with ESPN. They have listings for many different aspects of sports management.

NCAA Employment- The National Collegiate Athletic Association is the governing body for college sports and offers many great opportunities both in the organization itself and at universities throughout the nation.

SINC Conference - While not a job search, the Sports Industry Networking and Career (SINC) Conference , held in Washington D.C., is a great opportunity to conect with other industry professionals and increase your marketability.

General Job Search Sites

While general sites may take more work to find your ideal job, they are also better known, and many employers will post available jobs on these sites first. Save your résumé with several different sites so employers can find you easily.

Indeed - Indeed is another general site with a solid search engine that can help you find sports management opportunities in your area.

Monster - Make use of Monster’s advanced search engine to find jobs that meet your exact specifications. Put your résumé on file so employers can find you.