Many children grow up with dreams of one day becoming a sports superstar. The prospect of playing the sport you love in front of adoring fans is certainly enticing, especially while earning the kind of paycheck that will have you living comfortably until you’re ready to retire. However, with so many talented sports players around the world vying for a few select spots, the reality is that most people won’t reach professional status.
The good news is that a career in sports is not limited to life on the field. In fact, sports organizations are always looking for qualified candidates with a passion for athletics to join their team in other facets of daily operations. These include roles in marketing, PR and media, sales, health and medicine, and facility management.
If you have a true passion for sports, surely you’ll find the path that’s right for you. We’re here to break down some of the most popular careers in sports so you can hit the ball out of the park at your next job interview.
Marketing and Communications
Do you consider yourself a great communicator? Are verbal and written skills your strength? Do you know how to drum up excitement and engage the masses?
If so, a career in sports communications and marketing might be right for you. You’ll have the chance to share your greatest passion with those around you while building support for your favorite team.
Are you a writer at heart? Put your skills to good use. Sports journalists take on the role of newspaper or magazine writer, blogger, news anchor, TV or radio host. Cover live games while also giving special attention to industry trends, team rosters and fans. There’s no need to wait until entering the workforce to gain experience in the field. Write for your high school or college newspaper, or try pitching a story to your local newspaper. Collect clips as you go so you can begin to build a portfolio.
A bachelor’s degree in journalism or communications is the most common prerequisite for a career in this field. Entry-level sports journalists can expect to earn approximately $49,000 per year, according to PayScale.
Marketing and PR
Represent your favorite team, player or sports venue and become the ultimate brand ambassador. You’ll rely on those same excellent written and verbal communication skills that sports journalists need, but this time, your job is to get the word out about your team and their latest accomplishments.
Marketing and public relations staff most often work for sports teams, sports venues or even individual athletes. Their job is to promote, advertise and manage events while being proactive about reaching as many news outlets as possible. The ability to network and form relationships is especially important.
Most candidates have a degree in marketing, communications or journalism. The median salary for a public relations and marketing coordinator is approximately $43,000 per year.
Do you find yourself glued to the TV, narrating your favorite sports games for friends and family? Sports announcers must have high energy, witty commentary and expert knowledge — of the sport itself, the history of the sport, a team and its players. Sports announcers produce clips for TV or radio. They provide play-by-play narration of the game but also offer commentary about a sport’s history, team and player stats, and so forth.
Most candidates have a background in public speaking and journalism. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, sports announcers earn a median annual salary of approximately $42,000.
If you’re more interested in standing behind the camera than in front of it, a career as a sports videographer may be right for you. Videographers are at the center of the action of any sports game, without being the center of attention. They’re always looking for the best angles to frame the shot. Or perhaps you’re more interested in post-production, where you’ll focus your talents on splicing together the final cut.
Videographers typically have a degree in sports broadcast, film or video production. Prospective videographers set themselves apart from the competition with experience in editing software, such as Final Cut Pro. Camera operators and film and video editors make a median salary of approximately $62,000.
Management and Administration
Are you a natural-born leader? Does the idea of directing a team and creating new programs excite you? Take your passion for sports to new heights with a career path in management and administration.
Transform a school’s athletic program and support student athletes. Make important decisions about high school, college or university sports programs. Work with coaches, trainers and faculty to ensure programs meet student needs and school objectives.
Athletic directors typically have a bachelor’s degree in education, physical education or a related field. According to PayScale, athletic directors make an average annual earning of $61,000 per year.
As an event coordinator, you can coordinate a sport’s team's biggest events and fundraisers. You may also work for a college or university in conjunction with the athletic director to carry out similar tasks. Event coordinators must be able to conceptualize an event from the very start, but they must also be able to delegate a detailed list of tasks to their event team.
Typically, event coordinators have studied business, communications, PR or marketing and have a bachelor’s degree in their respective field. Convention and event planners make an average of $52,000 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Sports Facility Manager
Oversee the daily operations of a sports arena, stadium, golf course, swimming pool or any other sports venue. A sports facility manager is responsible for making sure everything runs smoothly behind the scenes so that players and spectators are kept safe while they’re enjoying the game.
A sports facility manager will hold a bachelor’s degree in sports management, facility management or business administration. SNU offers a Master of Arts in Sports Management & Administration to prepare students for a career in the sports industry. Online and evening course schedules are available. Professionals in the area of administrative services and facilities management earn an average of $99,000 per year.
Are you enthusiastic, confident and outgoing? Are you willing to take the initiative to bring about the best outcome? If the answer is yes — and if you also live and breathe sports — a professional sales role as a rep or director may be the right fit for you.
Sports Sales Rep
Sales reps sell everything from game and special events tickets to sports fan merchandise and memorabilia. Sales reps may work in a ticket office or in a sales and customer service capacity. A sales rep in the sports industry takes on the informal role of brand ambassador, and they should have a passion for the sport and their team.
A sales rep typically holds a bachelor’s degree, although in some cases, a high school diploma may be sufficient. Degree holders usually major in sports management and administration or a related field. According to ZipRecruiter, the national average salary for a sports sales rep is $46,000 annually.
Director of Global Sales Operations
The director of global sales will look at team operations on the macro level. They’re responsible for devising ways of both improving and predicting sales growth through scalable measures. They’ll also troubleshoot instances where the team is not meeting sales objectives and propose solutions.
Candidates interested in this role will have a background in sales, marketing or finance. According to Zippia, the average director global operations salary is approximately $136,000 per year in the United States.
Find the intersection between sports and science. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in the medical field but also passionate about sports, athleticism and fitness, then the field of sports medicine may suit you well.
Take a hands-on approach to helping people of all fitness levels reach their personal goals. Work with clients individually or lead classes that emphasize strength, flexibility and endurance. Help clients set their own objectives and suggest exercise routines that clients feel confident about maintaining.
Fitness trainers often hold an associate’s or bachelor’s degree (although this qualification isn’t required) in exercise science or physical education. A personal trainer makes a median salary of $63,000 per year.
Do you see yourself working long-term with clients to help them recuperate after sports-related injuries? A physical therapist's main objectives are to restore function, maintain mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or limit long-term physical impairments. Together with doctors, occupational therapists and other specialists, physical therapists devise a plan that will bring clients back to a state of full recovery.
After completing a bachelor’s degree in physics, biology, chemistry, physiology or anatomy, candidates will go on to complete a two-year Master of Physiotherapy program. SNU’s M.S. in Exercise Science prepares students with a basic background in community health, epidemiology, disease prevention and health behaviors, and it teaches students how to analyze and interpret data. Physical therapists made an average of $89,000 in 2019, with highest potential earnings at $104,000.
Do you have a goal of becoming a fully licensed physician? Sports physicians work with athletes at all levels and often over the long term, throughout their careers. Physicians can choose whether to focus on surgical or non-surgical procedures in their overall career path.
To become a sports medicine doctor, candidates must complete medical school, earn their license and complete a residency and fellowship. This usually equates to eight years of schooling. Sports physicians make a median salary of approximately $240,000 per year. The highest earners make up to $365,000 annually.
Ready to jump into your career in sports? Learn more about SNU’s complete course offering.