The following article describes the important aspects of a career in sports management. You will learn about what sports management professionals do, where they work, job duties, how to become one, popular career paths, and more.
What We Do
The field of sports management provides people with an interest in sports and business with opportunities for a variety of exciting career opportunities. Sports management professionals can work in many different areas of sports business, including as team managers, athletic directors, sports agents, recruiters, marketing and PR professionals and much more.
The job duties for sports management professionals will depend upon the exact career path. Below are some of the most common sports management career paths and job duties:
- Account manager or executive: These sports management professionals serve as a mediator between the sports team or company and the client. Account managers need to sell a particular product of a sports company or franchise while also keeping in mind the needs of the client. Most account managers handle multiple sports accounts and clients at once.
- Sports agent: Responsible for the legal and corporate responsibilities of athletes they are representing. They also must act as the adviser for the professional athlete when it is time to sign a contract or negotiate business deals with brands and companies.
- Inside sales representative: These sales positions are a good entry level position for new graduates. Professional and collegiate teams need help selling tickets to the general public. You will need to learn how to work with different people and departments to get sales completed. Largely a commission based position.
- Scouts: Look for good new players, evaluate skills and gauge their likelihood for success at high school, college and professional levels.
- Public relations manager: Responsible for building and managing the public image of a sports franchise, athletic company or product. Must handle damage control if there are any problems, and coordinate directly with sports executives and media contacts to get the approved message out.
- General manager: Their main responsibility is to manage a sports team’s business transactions. They must oversee the revenue and budget for the sports team, bring in coaches and assistants, draft players and be the media spokesperson.
- Fitness director: They are responsible for the implementation and organization of group and fitness activities, and oversight of the logistics for such activities. They can work for professional, collegiate and high school sports teams.
- Marketing manager: Core responsibilities are to manage and market the brand of the sports team, franchise or brand. Devising a good brand image for consumers and fans is the most important duty of a marketing manager.
Where We Work
Large numbers of sports management professionals work in the advertising, marketing and promotions fields, and those workers tend to work in the following industries:
- Advertising, PR and related services: 31%
- Information: 17%
- Retail trade: 9%
- Management of enterprises and companies: 8%
- Wholesale trade: 6%
Public relations managers and specialists tend to work in these areas:
- Civic, professional and grant making organizations: 22%
- Professional, technical and scientific organizations: 21%
- Educational services: 12%
- Healthcare and social services: 7%
- State and local government: 7%
Scouts tend to work in the following areas:
- Elementary and secondary schools: 24%
- Arts, entertainment and recreation: 20%
- Colleges, universities and professional schools: 20%
Some of the cities that are reported to have the greatest job growth in sports management and related fields are:
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: 56% sports related job growth since 2010
- Jacksonville, Florida: 38% sports related job growth since 2010
- Atlanta, Georgia: 29% sports related job growth since 2010
- Buffalo, New York: 26% sports related job growth since 2010
- Boston, Massachusetts: 22% sports related job growth since 2010
How to Become
In sales, marketing, sports agent and public relations related sports management careers, you will likely need to have a bachelor’s degree in marketing or public relations to get your foot in the door in this field.
Scouts need to have some type of bachelor’s degree, but more importantly, need to have outstanding knowledge of sports and potential recruits for their particular sport.
Salaries and job growth vary widely depending upon the particular sports management career you choose:
- Scouts: Median salary according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics is $31,400, and the top 10% earn more than $71,000 per year. Of course, professional scouts earn much more, although those jobs are extremely competitive. Scouts will see 6% job growth by 2024.
- Fitness directors: Earn a median salary of $38,000 per year, and the top 10% earn at least $72,000 per year. This field will increase in jobs by 8% by 2024. There is a strong trend to continue to fight obesity and health problems in the country and this is leading to a greater need for fitness professionals.
- Marketing and public relations managers: Job growth will be 5% by 2024 overall, but marketing managers will see 9% growth. Marketing and public relations managers for sports organizations will see the most growth in the cities we mention earlier in this article. Median pay in the field is $100,800 per year, with the top 10% earning more than $208,000 per year.
- Account and sales managers; The median wage in this field is $117,000, and the top 10% earn in excess of $208,000 per year. Much of their compensation is usually based upon commission, so individuals can earn more or less than these figures. Job demand will increase by 5% by 2024, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is about average.
Other possible career options for those who are interested in sports management are:
- Meeting, Convention and Event Planner: These public relations professionals are responsible for planning and coordinating various aspects of events and professional events. In the sports world, these workers are often responsible for organizing various promotional events and meetings pertaining to professional, collegiate and even high school sports teams. Whatever type of sports franchise you represent, you will need to plan the scope of the meeting, get bids from venues and vendors, and carefully coordinate event services including rooms, meals and meeting facilities.
- Fundraiser: These professionals handle the organization of events and campaigns to raise funds for various causes and organizations. In sports, you could be responsible for raising money to fund various activities that the sports organization engages in for the community, including various charities. Fundraisers need to do research on possible large donors, and create a strong message that will appeal to possible donors.
The majority of sports management professionals have a background in marketing, public relations or sales. This type of background usually involves a bachelor’s degree in public relations or marketing.
Some upper level sports management professionals eventually earn an MBA, and some programs today do offer concentrations in sports management.
When embarking upon a career in sports management, you need to realize that working in the sports field is very popular and highly competitive. Most people think about working in professional sports, and that is certainly an option.
But there are many levels of sports management where you can find work. Some people start out in sports management actually working at the high school level, representing certain teams or possibly an athletic department.
After they have gained experience, they may eventually start working in sports management at the collegiate level at the Division III or IV level, and work their way up over time to Division I. Sports management professionals with this type of extensive background and experience then may be able to work at the professional level in sports management for a major team in baseball, basketball, football or hockey.
Training and Certifications
The United States Sports Academy offers numerous certificate programs so that you can become a respected expert in various areas of sports management:
- Sports Public Relations
- Sports Law and Risk Management
- Sports Marketing
- Sports Administration
- Sports Business and Personnel Management
- Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-managers.htm
- Continuing Education – Sports Management. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ussa.edu/continuing-education/certification-programs/sports-management/
- Dill, K. Top 10 Cities for Sports Related Job Growth. (2014, Sept. 5). Retrieved from https://www.smartrecruiters.com/blog/top-10-cities-for-sports-related-job-growth/