Many of us dream of sinking that game-winning basket at TD Garden or hitting a home run at Yankee Stadium. But only a few are physically gifted—and lucky—enough to make a living as a professional athlete.
If you love sports but probably won’t make it to the big show, you can still build a career around your passion for athletics.
Sports Career Options
Whether you’re a communications expert, a gifted negotiator, or a film enthusiast with an eye for a good shot, there’s a career for you in sports. Here are just a few of the possibilities:
For folks with strong writing skills and a nose for a good story, consider becoming a sports writer for a website, magazine, newspaper, TV or radio station. Prepare for this career by building your portfolio with sports-related clips and honing your knowledge of sports stats. A bachelor’s degree in journalism or communications may be required at many publications.
Salary: According to PayScale, sports journalists earn an average annual salary of $48,261.
Marketing and PR
Communications and publicity staff work for sports teams, individual athletes, leagues, athletic venues, and corporate sponsors. Those with a keen sense of marketing and promotion, event management, and organizational skills, as well as a creative flair, should consider sports marketing, event planning, promotion, and advertising.
Employers include sports marketing firms, advertising agencies, teams, leagues, athletic venues, and sponsorship divisions of corporate marketing departments.
Salary: Per Glassdoor, sports marketing careers pay an average annual salary of $54,268.
Those with a strong voice, confident presence, and in-depth sports knowledge might consider working as an announcer for a team or media outlet. To excel in this career, polish your public speaking, researching, and writing skills.
Salary: Indeed reports that the average annual for sports announcers salary is $38,456. However, location matters in this occupation—in Washington, D.C., California, and New York, announcers earn average salaries of more than $74,000 per year.
Sports videographers do more than just point the camera at the field. In addition to being able to frame a shot and follow the action, these professionals often need knowledge of editing software like Final Cut Pro.
Salary: Sports videographers make an average annual salary of $46,959, according to Paysa.
Individuals with assertive personalities, persuasive abilities, strong verbal skills, a competitive nature and the ability to bounce back from rejection might consider being an advertising salesperson for a sports-oriented television or radio station, magazine, newspaper, website, or a sports venue.
Salary: According to PayScale, salespeople earn an average annual salary of $45,731.
Sports agents draw upon a similar skillset as salespeople. To succeed in this field, agents need stellar negotiating skills, as well as the ability to analyze statistics and determine their clients’ value in the marketplace.
Agents typically earn money on commission based upon the contracts they land for their clients.
Salary: On average, sports agents earn $51,232 per year, according to PayScale.
Other Sports Job Titles
There is a broad range of other sports jobs for those with numerical skills, financial ability, technology expertise, and administrative talents. Here are some other sports-related job options:
- Academic Adviser: Athletics
- Account Executive
- Aquatics Director
- Assistant Athletic Director
- Assistant Coach
- Assistant General Manager
- Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach
- Associate Athletic Director
- Associate Strength and Conditioning Coach
- Athletic Director
- Athletic Trainer
- Color Analyst
- Community Relations Director
- Corporate Sales Director
- Corporate Salesperson
- Defensive Coordinator
- Director of Fitness and Wellness
- Equipment Manager
- Event Coordinator
- Facilities Manager
- Fitness Trainer
- Front Desk Attendant
- Front Desk Manager
- General Manager
- Golf Pro
- Group Sales Account Executive
- Intramural Director
- Maintenance Worker
- Marketing Assistant
- Marketing Director
- Membership Salesperson
- Offensive Coordinator
- Performance Coach
- Personal Trainer
- Physical Therapist for Sports Medicine Practice
- Public Relations Director
- Site Manager
- Skating Instructor
- Ski Instructor
- Sports Camp Activities Director
- Sporting Goods Sales
- Sports Camp Activities Specialist (Basketball, Lacrosse, Volleyball etc.)
- Sports Camp Counselor
- Sports Camp Director
- Sports Information Director
- Sports Information Officer
- Sports Lawyer
- Sports Physician
- Sporting Goods Store Manager
- Strength and Conditioning Coach
- Team Manager
- Tennis Pro
- Travel Secretary
- Yoga Teacher
How to Prepare for a Sports Careers
So now that we've identified some of the options, here are some tips for high school or college students to lay the groundwork for a sports management, communications, or marketing career.
Work With Your School's Media
Sign on for a position with your school's newspaper, radio or television station and write or produce stories and content about your school's teams and athletes. Develop a concept for a sports talk show at your school's radio or television station. Take on a position announcing or producing broadcasts of athletic contests at your school.
For those interested in sales, consider advertising positions with your college newspaper, yearbook, or magazine.
Work Directly With the Athletic Department
Approach the sports information director at your college and ask if there are ways you can support their efforts to track, monitor, and report on sporting events and the accomplishments of your college's athletes and teams. If you are mathematically oriented, ask to work on stats. If you are technically or artistically oriented, consider helping with the sports-oriented aspects of the website.
Speak to the athletic director and/or coaches at your school and discuss ways you could help promote sporting events and increase attendance.
Seek Out Internships
Consider interning during the semester or summer for local newspapers, radio, or television stations. Contact the sports editor or sports director for communications positions or the advertising director or marketing manager for sales/marketing positions.
Contact your college career office and ask for the names of contacts in the sports industry. Approach them for informational interviews. If you hit it off, ask if you could shadow them during a school break. Ask them for suggestions about jobs and internships.
Consider a sports team internship. Virtually all sports organizations like teams, leagues, or sports venues utilize interns heavily. Contact promotion and marketing directors, general managers, and public relations officers with minor league teams in sports of interest in your area as well as sports venues and league offices.
If you're more interested in marketing or ads, approach local sports marketing firms and agencies and inquire about internships.
Take Marketing and Writing Classes
Take as many marketing courses as possible and participate in marketing competitions if you are interested in promotion, advertising, or public relations.
Complete writing-intensive coursework to help build a portfolio of writing pieces if you would like to focus on reporting or content development jobs.