Salary Outlook with a Sports Management Degree

Created by Henry Steele

By Henry Steele - December 11, 2017
Reading Time: 6 minutes
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Sports and recreation today is a huge business, which is why the number of sports management degree programs have grown so rapidly in the past 30 years. Getting a sports management degree will open the door to many rewarding careers in sports, sports management and related fields in media and marketing, parks and recreation, fitness, intercollegiate athletics and more.

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If you are interested in a sports management degree, it is important to understand what the potential salary could be after you get through school. To get a better idea, it is important to review these critical factors that influence salary:

  • The level of sports management degree that you get – bachelor’s or master’s
  • The type of sports management or related career you select
  • How many years of related work experience you have
  • The industry or field in which you work

With this information, it will become clearer the sort of salary that you can expect with your sports management degree.

Level of Sports Management Degree

It is generally understood that getting a master’s degree will result in a higher salary across most industries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, states that the median wage for workers in 2013 possessing a master’s degree was $68,000, and was $56,000 for those will only a bachelor’s degree.

How much your salary will increase with a bachelor’s vs. master’s degree in sports management will vary. Here are some different careers that can result in different salaries with a master’s degree instead of just a bachelor’s. These fields could relate to sports management in many cases:

  • Marketing and sales managers: Earn a median salary of $80,000 with a bachelor’s and $110,000 with a master’s degree.
  • Financial managers: Earn $78,000 with a bachelor’s and $110,000 with a master’s.
  • Scouts: Can earn a salary between $18,000 and $71,900, depending upon degree and level of experience.
  • Athletic trainers: Can earn a salary between $30,300 and $69,100 depending upon degree and level of experience.
  • Meeting, convention and event planners: Can earn a salary between $25,600 and $83,000, depending upon degree and level of experience.

Also, reports that a professional with a bachelor of science in sports management can anticipate the following median salaries by profession:

  • Account executive: $36,251
  • Account manager: $42,600
  • Event manager: $40,925 also reports the following salaries by profession with an MBA in sports management:

  • Marketing director: $70,000
  • Marketing associate: $40,805
  • Account manager: $56,000
  • Marketing manager: $75,000
  • Senior marketing manager: $75,500
  • Senior director, sales and marketing: $185,300

Master’s Degree or MBA In Sports Management?

If you are weighing a graduate degree in sports management, you will probably come across Master of Science and MBA programs in sports management. Which should you choose and what are the differences? Consider:

  • Core curriculum: An MBA in the field will provide you with the general business management knowledge that you need to succeed in any business or corporation. The curriculum will cover business basics such as finance, accounting, marketing, statistics, HR and operations. But a master’s in sports management will focus more specifically on the sports industry from a business and operations perspective. The core curriculum also will study accounting, finance, statistics, HR, operations, etc, but it will be done more from the perspective of a sports executive or administrator.
  • Specialization: An MBA will usually have 3-5 classes that specialize on various aspects of the sports management field. There will generally be more specializations and concentrations in an MS program on various aspects of sports management, such as ethics, international sports management, coaching, psychology etc.
  • Network: An MBA program will often feature internships at companies, but they tend to be more general in nature and may not be specific to the sports industry. But this can vary depending upon the program. A master’s in sports management will usually offer an internship or practicum in a sports-related company or organization.
  • Career: Professionals with an MBA in sports management may have a more general education that can be applied to other industries. A professional with a master’s degree in sports management will have a skillset fairly specific to the sports industry.

Types of Sports Management Careers

Earning a master’s or MBA in sports management will provide you with skills to earn a good salary. But different career paths will have different salaries with the same degree. Below are the common choices of career with a sports management degree, as well as typical salaries:

Sports Agent

This is one of the most common roles that people with this type of degree seek. A sports agent provides advice to athletes regarding their financial contract and public image. This job requires a high level of negotiating skill. You will need to understand what the earning potential is of each of your clients, and be able to fully understand and explain the details of the contract. Communication skills are just as important as negotiating skills.

Public relations is another major part of being a sports agent, as the public image of the client is often very important from a financial perspective.

The median salary of sports agents is according to BLS in the range of $62,900, with a mean annual wage of $95,800. reports that the median salary in this industry is $56,700.

Meeting, Convention and Events Planners

These marketing and communications professionals in the sports industry coordinate the various aspects of sports related events and professional meetings. They are responsible for planning meetings at various locations and will attend to all of the details of the event so that it goes off appropriately.

Meeting planners are in charge of organizing meetings for major organizations, which can include businesses in the sports management field. Convention planners are responsible for planning conferences and conventions for various types of sports organizations. Event planners are in charge of arranging the details of many types of sports events.

BLS reports that the median salary in this profession is $47,300, with a salary range between $25,600 and $83,000. Salaries break down as follows by industry:

  • Administrative and support: $50,100
  • Religious, civic, professional organizations: $50,000
  • Accommodation and food services: $44,500
  • Arts, entertainment and recreation: $39,900

Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers

These managers often work in the sports world to generate interest in various sports programs and related products and services. Advertising managers are responsible for creating interest among advertisers in various sports programs. You may work for a sports company, a professional or collegiate team, or for a department in a sports organization.

Promotion managers are responsible for directing sports program advertising and incentives to enhance sales. They may use Internet advertising, product endorsements, and special events to find potential customers for a promotion for a sports company or team.

Marketing managers are in charge of determining the demand for a product or service, such as a sports program that the business offers. They are also responsible for determining new possible markets for the sports organization, business, or team.

The median salary for advertising and promotions managers was $100,800 in 2016, with a range between $44,900 and $208,000. For marketing managers, the median salary was $131,000, with a range between $67,400 and $208,000. US News and World Report stated the median salary for marketing managers was $128,750 in 2015.

Sales Managers

Sales managers often are employed in sports-related companies and team organizations. They are generally responsible for running the sales operation for the organization, and typically have anywhere from a few to dozens of sales professionals who work underneath them.

Sales managers usually are in charge of a sales territory for a sports-related organization, and will recruit, hire and train new sales staff members. It is common for sales managers to work closely with the marketing department; this helps you to find new customers to target for various sales efforts for the sports organization.

The median pay for sales managers was $117,900 in 2016, with a range between $55,700 and $208,000.

Work Experience

Most careers feature a higher level of pay based upon years of experience. This is the same in sports management, but it will vary based upon the exact job.

For example, a marketing manager with less than five years of work experience will earn a salary of $54,000, while one with 5-10 years of experience will earn $67,000 per year. With 10-20 years of experience, the average salary is $74,000, and $79,000 with more than 20 years of experience.

For a regional sales manager, the average salary with less than five years of experience is $69,000; $86,000 with 5-10 years of experience; $99,000 with 10-20 years of experience; and $105,000 with more than 20 years of experience.


How much you will make per year with your sports management degree also will vary based upon industry. According to, below are some typical salaries in various jobs, by major industry type:

General Administrative

  • Operations intern: $33,697
  • Operations associate: $54,600
  • Event coordinator: $37,900


  • Sports center manager: $38,700
  • Director: $91,000
  • General manager: $54,000
  • Supervisor: $47,700
  • Assistant manager: $32,600
  • Operations manager: $64,400


  • Director of marketing: $90,800
  • Brand ambassador: $41,500


  • Account executive: $62,800
  • Sales representative: $58,000

Community and Social Service

  • Athletic director: $55,300
  • Recreation coordinator: $40,800

Customer Service

  • Ticket sales: $37,200

Education and Instruction

  • Athletics manager: $40,500

There are many different possible salary levels in the sports management field, given the wide variety of job possibilities. It is helpful to review the information in this article to hone in on exactly what you want to do in your sports management career. Then you can get a much better idea of your salary potential.


Henry Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.

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