Winning Sports Careers The Non-Athletes Guide to Getting a Career in Sports

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Career opportunities in the sports industry aren’t limited to those with athletic prowess; there is a wide range of positions in the field for non-athletes too. These jobs support the sports industry by providing mental and physical health services, sales and marketing revenue, and sports media content. The following guide outlines some of the most popular careers in sports for non-athletes and how the growing presence of women in the industry.

What Type of Sports Career is For You?

From scoring an internship to sports medicine careers, find the path that works best for you.

Fitness Director Careers

These professionals plan and implement individual and group fitness activities in a wide range of settings, including fitness facilities, hotels, and corporations.  Fitness Directors also develop and teach health education programs. The following graph presents Fitness Director job titles and the education, salary and work condition for each position.

Fitness Program
Coordinator
  • Academic Requirements
    Bachelor’s Degree

    (Fitness Management. Health and Fitness, or related)

    Master’s Degree

    (Health and Fitness Management, Exercise Physiology, or equivalent)

  • Salary Expectations

    $30,203-$61,031
    Median: $45,682 PayScale.com

  • Work Conditions

    Fitness Center, YMCA, Business, Hotel, College

Fitness
Director
  • Academic Requirements
    Bachelor’s Degree

    (Fitness Management. Health and Fitness, or related)

    Master’s Degree

    (Health and Fitness Management, Health Business Management, Exercise Physiology, or equivalent)

  • Salary Expectations

    $24,874-$65,305
    Median: $41,000 PayScale.com

  • Work Conditions

    Fitness Facility, YMCA, Business, Hotel, College

Therapeutic
Recreation Director
  • Academic Requirements
    Bachelor’s Degree

    (Fitness Management. Health and Fitness, or related)

    Master’s Degree

    (Health and Fitness Management, Health Business Management, Exercise Physiology, or equivalent)

  • Salary Expectations

    $30,814-$68,305
    Median: $46,876 PayScale.com

  • Work Conditions

    Assisted Living, Nursing Home, Hospital

Sports and Fitness
Coordinator
  • Academic Requirements
    Bachelor’s Degree

    (Fitness Management. Health and Fitness, or related)

    Master’s Degree

    (Health and Fitness Management, Health Business Management, Exercise Physiology, or equivalent)

  • Salary Expectations

    $35,390-$55,444
    Median: $37,099 PayScale.com

  • Work Conditions

    Non-Profit (ex.: Boys & Girls Club of America), Fitness Center, YMCA

Wellness
Manager
  • Academic Requirements
    Bachelor’s Degree

    (Fitness Management. Health and Fitness, or related)

    Master’s Degree

    (Health and Fitness Management, Health Business Management, Exercise Physiology, or equivalent)

  • Salary Expectations

    $33,012-$80,553
    Median: $55,525 PayScale.com

  • Work Conditions

    Nursing Home, Corporate, Hospital, Private Practice

Coaches

There are coaching positions in every level of sports, from high school to professional sports. Each level brings different responsibilities and requires coaches to have various educational backgrounds and sports experience.

High school coaches usually divide their time between teaching for the school district and coaching one or more teams. They must put in extra hours during the sports season including nights and weekends.

At the college level and professional levels, there are coaches for each position who work under the head coach of the program. The role of the head coach is to recruit student players with the goal of building a successful team.  

Coaches in professional sports hold the most prestigious coaching positions. They often start as college coaches or athletes and work up the ladder to head coach. Head coaches need to be passionate about their sport as they organize, direct, and motivate the team.

High School Coaches
  • Education Requirements

    Because high school coaches teach, they need to have a bachelor’s degree and teaching license. They may hold an Education degree or a degree in Exercise, Kinesiology, Physical Education, or the equivalent. Some districts require them to be certified or licensed to coach. High school coaches need to be CPR certified and pass a background check and drug test.

  • Experience

    Most high school coaches have experience playing sports in high school or college. Regardless, they need to be familiar with the rules and regulations of the sport they coach. During the preseason, high school coaches run drills and teach strategies. When the season begins, high school coaches have to attend every game, authorizing and implementing changes as needed.

  • Salary

    The annual mean wage of high school coaches is $33,570 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

College Sports Coaches
  • Education Requirements

    College coaches usually have a minimum of Bachelor’s degree or higher in Athletic Coaching, Sports Science, Physical Education, or another sports-related area. Coursework includes classes in fitness, anatomy, psychology, and leadership theory. College coaches need CPR certification, first aid certification, and any state or institution-specific certifications.

    Current position coaches, coordinators and assistant head coaches can apply to the NCAA and NFL Coaches Academy for education and training in intercollegiate football training.

  • Experience

    The path to becoming a college coach usually begins by coaching for a high school or small college. It’s hard to find jobs with successful programs because coaches tend to stay until they retire. College coaches have a strong influence on their players and spend a lot of time in the public eye. Therefore, the more experience they have with the sport, the better qualified they will be.

  • Salary

    Salary for college coaches depends on the size of the school, the sport, and the team record. The average salary for college coaches is $53,670 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics but varies widely. For example, in 2014 USA Today reported salaries of NCAA football coaches as $225,000- $6,950,203 a year.

Professional Sports Coaches
  • Education

    Because coaching experience and a winning record are most important, coaches in professional sports come from varied educational backgrounds. The position requires a bachelor’s degree or higher in Athletic Coaching, Sports Science, Physical Education, or the equivalent. But many NFL coaches spent many years working as coaches in college athletics programs before becoming qualified.

  • Experience

    Experience is essential at the professional level. Many professional coaches are former coaches and players. It’s the most unique coaching situation because of the pressure, demanding fans, intense media coverage, and significant turnover.

  • Salary

    NFL coaches make more than any other professional coaches, according to the Forbes’ list of highest-paid sports coaches, usually making millions of dollars a year. Top coaches have made up to $8 million a year (Sean Payton of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints).

General Managers

A general manager (GM) has one of the highest positions in any sports organization, and with that position comes a lot of responsibility. It’s the general manager’s job to handle all business matters for the team, including budgets and revenues, whether at the college or professional level. A GM is also the media spokesperson at press conferences and other events. The position requires extensive travel and long hours, making it very time-consuming when the sport is in season.

  • Job Requirements

    Among his many responsibilities, a GM handles negotiations for contracts and trade deals. At the professional sports level, a GM hires head coaches, fills administrative positions, and drafts players. A GM in the pros also scouts college-level prospects each season, staying within the league’s salary caps. A GM is directly under the team owner in the chain of command but has final veto power on all player-related decisions. The job of GM can be very stressful, as the public holds him responsible if the team doesn’t have a winning record. For that reason, it is essential that a GM be confident, strong-willed, and has a passion for the sport.

  • Education

    Although the most important factor in becoming a GM for a sports organization is experience, a college degree is usually required as well. Most GM’s hold at least a bachelor’s degree if not a master’s degree in business administration, sports management, or physical education. Playing or coaching experience are other requirements.

  • Salary

    The average mean salary for GM’s in all “Spectator Sports” at all levels is $112,200 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, GM salaries span a wide range, depending on the sport and the team. GM salaries in professional sports usually fall somewhere between $500,000 and $3 million and up. For instance, GMs in the MLB earn between $500,000 and $2 million a year according to sources for Fox Sports. The Bleacher Report puts NFL GM salaries at $1 million-$3 million.

  • Experience required

    It takes many years of experience in lower-level positions to become qualified for a GM position. For example, a GM may have held front office staff positions such as Director of Pro Personnel or Director of College Scouting before being promoted.

Sports Internships

One of the best ways to break into a career in sports is with an internship, and most programs include them as a curriculum component.  Working as an intern gives individuals a chance to earn practical experience while learning valuable information about a specialty area, whether it’s managing a facility, reporting sports news, or providing health care for athletes. In addition, interns have the opportunity to network as they connect with players, coaches, administrators and others in the industry. These relationships are essential when it comes time to find a permanent position later on. Here are some tips on landing an internship.

Who is eligible for sports internships?

Most sports internship programs are open to current students or recent graduates from a sports program at an accredited institution. There are internship opportunities in all areas of sports including professional sports organizations. In fact, current NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell began his career as an intern.

Where can I find sports internships?

Here are some examples of internships programs offered by professional sports organizations:

  • Basketball: The NBA Internship Program is a 10-week summer program that exposes participants to many facets of the NBA, WNBA and NBA D-League.

  • Football: The NFL Junior Rotational Program allows interns to receive comprehensive orientation and training, participate in mentor assignments, and network with other participants.

  • Hockey: Each NHL team has its own internship program. For example, the New York Rangers are associated with the Madison Square Garden Company Associate Program. Opportunities are available to undergraduate and graduate student in all facets of the business including MSG Sports, MSG Media, MSG Entertainment and corporate division.

  • Baseball: MLB and the Office of the Commissioner both manage a formal paid summer internship program for students who have completed at least their sophomore year of college.

  • Soccer: Each MLS team organizes its own individual internship program. The organization also advertises other internship programs in the soccer community at its website.

When should students apply?

It’s important to apply early. It’s not uncommon for organizations to choose interns as early as a year in advance. Putting it off can be a big mistake, even for students just starting out in a degree program. Since each internship program has its own deadlines students should pay careful attention to all instructions.

How do students increase their chances of landing an internship?
  • 1. Have a game plan

    While it is faster to send a generic letter to each organization where a student wants to apply, it isn’t the best way to be accepted into a program. To increase their chances of landing an internship, students should research organizations and direct their letters to the people with the most clout. These people may include human resources, department heads, agents, coaches, and others with influence.

  • 2. Sell yourself

    Good internships have a lot of competition. Just like when applying for a job, it’s important to stand out from the competition.  Students should highlight their skills and qualifications and add any “extras” that can make the difference between getting accepted and not getting accepted.  Is the student interested in sports journalism? Then he should include copies of articles he’s written. Is the student majoring in sports marketing? Then she should include research she completed for a major project.

  • 3.  Network

    Sports organizations are no different than other workplaces–it’s usually who you know that gets you in the door. If the student or a family member knows anyone in the business, this is the time to ask for help. They should also attend as many sporting events as possible to make as many connections as possible.

Sports Journalism

For those who want to work behind-the-scenes in the sporting industry, Sports Journalism is an option. Sports journalism includes many different careers in online media, print and broadcast journalism. The following section outlines various jobs in Sports Journalism and the education needed to pursue them.

Sports Announcer/Commentator

Sports announcers discuss relevant aspects of the game on live radio or television. They need to be comfortable interviewing players and coaches. Jobs in sports announcing are competitive, requiring at least a bachelor’s in sports journalism or a related field and many years of experience in sports and writing. Aspiring sports announcers usually begin at the local level while working for college radio broadcasts. There are also paid and unpaid internships at commercial radio stations.
Degree Path:Bachelor’s

Sports Radio Show Host

Sports radio hosts are different than announcers in that they need a comprehensive knowledge of all sports so they can discuss the latest news during a weekly show. Some hosts are lucky enough to have their own show during which they interview athletes and coaching staff. It’s a competitive field, and many positions are filled by former players or coaches, so a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism, radio broadcasting, or communications is one way to stand out. Broadcasting experience as an intern at a local radio station can help prospective sports announcers find entry-level positions as production assistants and researchers, at which point they can move their way up the ladder.
Degree Path: Bachelor’s

Sports Writer

Between keeping fans up-to-date on the latest sporting news and expressing their opinion about all aspects of the game, sports writers have a lot to share. Some of the topics that a sports writer covers include game play predictions, drafts, trades, coaching, and individual players. Although there jobs for newspaper sports writers, more positions are available as online freelancers. Most outlets require a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism, communications, or an equivalent. The best way to make connections as an aspiring sports writer is to gain experience as an undergraduate writing for the school team and interning at a local newspaper. Here are some other positions to pursue with a degree in sports journalism.
Degree Path: Bachelor’s

Television Sports Producer

It’s the studio Sports Producer’s job to fill the time allotted with quality content. Sports Producers need to determine the topics covered, the order they appear, and how much time is spent on each segment, so there is a smooth flow to the show. Most Sports Producers have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Journalism, Broadcast Journalism, Communications, or Television Production and a strong knowledge of sports as a whole. These professionals usually begin as Assignment Editors or Associate Producers.
Degree Path: Bachelor’s, Master’s

Sports Marketing

The field of sports marketing encompasses a wide range of positions in settings such as sports agencies, public relations departments, and professional sports organizations. Recent graduates of bachelor’s degree programs usually begin in entry-level jobs and work their way up to more advanced careers. Here are some of the positions found in sports marketing.

Account Coordinator

Sports marketing firms employ Account Coordinators to assist upper-level executive staff in creating marketing strategies. Account Coordinators are responsible for maintaining relationships with the firm’s corporate clients and managing corporate sponsorships. Many Account Coordinators begin as interns while earning a Bachelor’s degree in sports marketing or a related degree, gaining experience and making connections.
Degree Path: Bachelor’s

Event Coordinator

Sporting events bring income to local businesses such as restaurants, hotels, casinos, and airports. Event Coordinators work for sports marketing firms, assisting the Event Director by managing on-site and off-site operations for these sporting events. Their responsibilities include transporting the team and equipment to their hotel, distributing team news to the media, and devising emergency contingency plans. The Events Coordinator position requires a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Marketing, Hospitality, Business or a related area. Some employers require a master’s degree.
Degree Path: Bachelor’s, Master’s

Public Relations Assistant

Public Relations plays an important role in college and professional sports. Most teams and sports marketing firms have a PR department to handle image control and relationship management. Public Relations Assistants assist executives in working with coaches and athletes by maintaining media contacts, conducting research, coordinating events. They often direct activities in the press box during games, keep track of client news coverage, and assemble clipping reports. A bachelor’s degree in sports marketing, public relations or a related field is necessary for an entry-level position as an assistant and more advanced degrees are required for higher-level careers.
Degree Path: Bachelor’s, Master’s

Inside Sales Representative

One of the most common entry-level positions in sports marketing is Inside Sales Representative, open to those with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Management, Business Management or the equivalent. Because Inside Sales Representatives sell multiple seats for consumer sales and services departments, they must have strong interpersonal and phone skills and superior attention to detail. Sales experience is also preferred.

Sports Medicine Careers

Sports medicine is an orthopedic specialty that centers on healing injuries or traumas associated with athletic training. The field includes medical doctors (MD) and osteopathic physicians (DO) who have completed sports medicine fellowships. Sports medicine also includes other health care professionals who treat acute and chronic injuries and advise athletes on improving their overall health. Each profile below describes a profession that contributes to the sports industry in important ways.

Doctor of Osteopathy

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) or Osteopathic Physicians, heal athletic injuries. Just like medical doctors (MDs), DOs must complete four years of medical school. The primary difference between the two specialties is that DOs look at the body an integrated whole when making a diagnosis instead of a set of specific symptoms. To gain a better understanding of how injuries affect other parts of the body, training for DOs includes a major emphasis on the musculoskeletal system.
Degree Path: Bachelor’s, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine,
Residency, Fellowship, Licensure, Board Certification in Sports Medicine.

Medical Doctor

Medical Doctors who specialize in sports medicine treat athletic injuries such as strains, sprains, and fractures. For this reason, they receive extensive training in the musculoskeletal system. In addition to treating physical injuries, sports physicians also diagnose chronic conditions and advise patients on health and nutrition management.
Degree Path: Bachelor’s (4 years), Doctor of Medicine (4 years), Residency (3 years), Fellowship (2 years)

Athletic Trainer

Athletic Trainers are healthcare professionals who provide medical care in collaboration with the rest of a sports medicine team. After earning a bachelor’s degree and completing at least two years of clinical experience, individuals can apply for certification from the Board of Certification (BOC). A certified athletic trainer must hold a degree from a school with an accredited athletic training curriculum. Some of the services that athletic trainers provide include preventative services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, and rehabilitation. In most cases, a bachelor’s degree is sufficient to obtain an entry-level position, but some employers may require a master’s degree.
Degree Path: Bachelor’s, Master’s

Exercise Physiologist

Exercise Physiologists provide health and fitness services for athletes and other individuals. These professionals work in a variety of medical settings under the direction of a licensed physician. They administer stress tests, develop exercise programs, and meet other health and fitness needs. In 2015, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) announced a name change for two of their exercise professional certifications to better represent the scope of practice and expertise of these professionals. The new titles, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist, replaced ACSM Certified Health Fitness Specialist and ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Specialist, respectively. Certified Exercise Physiologists (CEPs) must hold a minimum of a master’s degree and by licensed under state law.
Degree Path: Bachelor’s, Master’s, Licensure, Certification

Kinesiotherapist

Sports Kinesiotherapists help athletes regain muscle strength and function after an injury. Their process is to evaluate patients, develop targeted treatment plans, provide guidance in performing exercises correctly, and modify plans as needed. Sports kinesiotherapists work in sports medicine facilities, rehabilitation centers, and fitness centers as well as in private practice. To become a Registered Kinesiotherapist (RKT) through the American Kinesiotherapy Association (AKTA), individuals must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program and have completed 1,000 hours of supervised clinical work.
Degree Path: Bachelor’s, Master’s, Certification

Nurse

Sports Medicine Nurses are Nurse Practitioners (NPs) who assist physicians and surgeons in caring for common athletic injuries such as dislocations, strains, torn ligament, and bone fractures. Responsibilities include taking patient histories, assisting with treatment plans and educating patients, typically in private practice. Nurses develop their skill-set through on-the-job training. The Orthopedic Nurses Certification Board offers three different certifications.

  • Orthopedic Nurse Certified (ONC): Registered Nurses (RNs) who hold a bachelor’s degree and current RN license and two years RN experience can take the certification exam if they meet all requirements.
  • Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner Certified (ONP-C): Nurse practitioners who hold a master’s degree and are currently working in orthopedics can take the certification exam if they meet all requirements.
  • Orthopedic Clinical Nurse Specialist Certified (OCNS-C): Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) who hold a master’s degree and are currently working in orthopedics can take the certification exam if they meet all requirements.

Degree Path: There are various degree paths to a Sports Medicine Nursing career.

Sports Physical Therapist

Sports Physical Therapists oversee the rehabilitation of athletes with chronic conditions and injuries. They diagnose, develop treatment plans, and provide therapeutic services. Physical therapists must become licensed through the state where they will practice. Specialty certifications are available. Physical therapy training begins as part of bachelor’s degree program and continues in a doctor of physical therapy degree program that takes three to four years to complete. All states require physical therapists to be licensed, but requirements vary. Physical therapists have the option of becoming certified in sports physical therapy by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties.
Degree Path: Bachelor’s, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Licensure, Specialization

Sports Nutritionist/Dietician

Sports Dietitians provide nutritional counseling and education designed to enhance the performance of recreational and competitive athletes. Other responsibilities include menu development and making nutrition recommendations for coaches, trainers and parents. To become a Registered Dietitian through the American Dietetic Association, individuals must earn a bachelor’s degree in clinical nutrition or a related area from an accredited institution and have a certain number of supervised experiences. Most employers require candidates to hold a master’s degree in nutrition or exercise physiology as well. Sports nutritionists must also become certified or licensed by the state in which they will practice. Those individuals who become Board Certified Specialists in Sports Dietetics have the most advanced job opportunities.
Career Path: Bachelor’s, Master’s, Licensure, Certification

Sports Psychology

Sports Psychology is a specialty that combines psychology, science, and sports. Practitioners in this field focus on improving the mental health of athletes in a variety of settings. There are three types of Sports Psychologists:

  • Academic Sports Psychologists teach in high schools and colleges. They also work as researchers at institutions of higher learning.

  • Clinical Sports Psychologists diagnose and treat mental health issues common to athletes that can include performance anxiety, eating disorders, and depression.

  • Applied Sports Psychologists teach athletes and entire sports teams different motivation and mental conditioning techniques like visualization, relaxation and concentration.

Education

The education path to a career in Sports Psychology varies depending on the type of position. There are very few colleges and universities that offer bachelor’s degree programs specifically in Sports Psychology. An alternative is to earn a bachelor’s degree with a double major in Psychology and Exercise Science, followed by a master’s degree in Sports Psychology.

In order to be successful in Sports Psychology, a doctorate is recommended. There are two types of doctoral degrees:

  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Sports Psychology and Performance: This type of program is not designed for students who want to become licensed psychologists. Instead, it is for those who want to work in academics, research, and consulting such as Academic Sports Psychologists.

  • Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.): This doctoral program prepares students to take the licensing exam. Future Sports Psychologists often enroll in a clinical doctoral program after earning a master’s in sports psychology. Licensed psychologists can petition for a proficiency in Sports Psychology. This is the easiest path to becoming a Clinical Sports Psychologist according to the American Psychological Association (APA).

  • Certification: Sports psychology professionals at both the master’s and doctoral levels are eligible to become Certified Consultants (CC-AASP) through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.

Sports Psychologist Salary

$60,000-$80,000 a year university athletic departments
$100,000+ private practice
APA

Work Setting

Athletic facility, high school, college, professional sports team, private practice.

Women in Sports Careers

There are more than six million careers in sports, and at one time they were only open to men. That has changed considerably since the advent of Title IX, which forbids gender discrimination in athletics. After Title IX became law in 1972, more opportunities became available for women to pursue sports-related degrees and then move on to the workplace. Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go in some fields. The following section examines careers for women in sports and the outlook for the future.

Athletic Trainer

Athletic trainers provide preventative services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis and rehabilitation for athletes and sports teams. In the past, colleges and universities primarily hired female athletic trainers to work with female teams, but that is changing as more women pursue athletic training degree programs. However, female athletic trainers hold only few of the most lucrative jobs in sports. Women made up over 52% of National Athletic Trainers’ Association in 2012 and represent medical teams on the sidelines for almost every sport.

The annual mean wage for athletic trainers at colleges and universities is $46,860, and slightly higher for spectator sports at $47,070 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job opportunities for athletic trainers are expected to grow 19% between 2012 and 2022.

College Athletics Director

A College Athletics Director oversees the work of coaches and related staff in athletic programs. It requires a graduate degree and extensive administrative experience as well as a strong business background.

One of the missions of the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators (NACWAA) is to promote the growth, leadership, success and advancement of women as athletic administrators, professional staff, and coaches.  According to the NACWAA, the trend in hiring is to seek leaders from significant business backgrounds rather than strictly sports administration. They also recommend building a network that includes other athletic directors, college coaches, and conference personnel.

Projected job growth for all postsecondary education administrators is 15% according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salary.com reports the median salary as $105,320.

College Coach

According to the NCAA Race & Gender Institutional Database, women currently hold only 20% of all coaching jobs across the NCAA. Associations such as the Alliance of Women Coaches are working to increase the number of female coaches in all sports.

Coaching positions at the college level include head coaches, assistant coaches, and graduate assistants. The first step in becoming a college coach is earning an undergraduate degree. There is considerable competition for college coaching jobs, so teaching certification is one way to stand out. After graduation, women who are interested in coaching at the college level should gain entry-level coaching knowledge and experience.

As schools expand their sports offering, career opportunities in coaching are expected to increase according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Currently, college coaches in all positions earn $25,000-$2 million a year, depending on the sports program.

Sportswriter/Broadcast Journalist

Women have the widest range of opportunities in sports media with sports, teams, leagues, and organizations producing their own online content. According to the Association of Women in Sports Media (AWSM), online audiences are demanding features, game coverage, and injury updates more than ever before at all levels, from small colleges to the NFL. Therefore, these institutions need professionals with writing, reporting and production skills.

Competition for jobs in the sports media field is competitive, so it’s important to gain experience in internships and volunteer positions. AWSM offers an internships/scholarship program to promote and increase diversity in sports media. In addition to placing more than 100 female college students in paid internships since 1990, AWSM has developed mentoring and career-enhancement initiatives.

Sports Executive

Sports Executives are the top management of a college or sports team. Every sport hires executives to oversee managers in departments such as marketing, public relations, ticket sale, accounting and advertising and set team or franchise goals. Sports executive positions require extensive education, including bachelors and master’s degrees in sports administration or a related field.

Most sports executives begin their careers as interns and in entry-level positions in the sports industry. Then they develop experience managing staff and developing skills in various advanced positions in areas such as marketing, public relations, advertising, sales, and broadcasting.

As of now there are no female head coaches or general managers in the four major North American professional sports leagues, but the organizations are seeking to change that. For example, Major League Baseball recently partnered with a public relations firm to deepen its pool of women candidates for entry level and key baseball operations positions. Salaries range from $20,000 in minor leagues to more than $1 million in major league sports.

Interview

Robyn Clary

Events Coordinator, Inside Lacrosse, Ithaca College’13, B.S. Sport Management

What attracted you to the Sports Management program at Ithaca College?

I chose Ithaca College due to the great alumni network and history that the Sports Management program offered. When I attended a prospective student’s day at Ithaca College, I got to meet one-on-one with multiple professors and current Sport Management students who all helped me to make the easy decision to attend Ithaca. They informed me of all of the great opportunities available for IC Sports Management students–working with alumni at the New York Yankees, great connections with Cornell University Athletics, and a great athletics program right on campus–I knew the chances to learn and excel would be invaluable.

Were there more men than women in the program or was it about equal?

In my program, there were definitely more males than females, both in student and faculty. My advisor, who was also my professor for many classes, was a female, and she was very influential throughout my career at IC.  But the majority of the department was male-dominated.

Were you required to do an internship as part of the undergraduate program?

In order to graduate with a B.S. in Sports Management at Ithaca College, you are required to complete a fieldwork position (60-180 hours) and an internship position (360 hours). My fieldwork was done with STX, a lacrosse company. We went to tournaments in the area and marketed all of the products the company was offering. I completed my full internship with STX also.

Then, during my final year, I completed a second internship without credits with Cornell University Athletics. The time I spent at Cornell definitely helped me to gain all of my positions later on in my career. I worked with the Assistant Athletic Director of Operations and helped to run the home athletic contests, mainly with the men’s and women’s hockey and lacrosse programs. I got to work everything from an inter-squad scrimmage to the ECAC Women’s Hockey Tournament to the Ivy League Lacrosse Championships.

How long was the program?

I completed my college degree in three years, spending my final two at Ithaca College. To graduate with a B.S. in Sports Management, you need 120 credits including both the fieldwork and internship and all of the courses.

What was the job market like when you graduated?  Are there opportunities for women?

I actually was very fortunate that from my volunteer work within the Cornell Athletics Department, I was offered a graduate assistant position as the Athletic Operations Assistant prior to graduation. Within the field that I work in now, athletic events, I have found that it is actually pretty split between men and women. Other aspects of Sports Management/Marketing can definitely vary, but with the division of sport I am in, it hasn’t really made a difference, at least not enough to affect me.

What is a typical day like at your job?

My current job title is Event Coordinator at Inside Lacrosse. My day varies on the season we are in. During event season, end of spring through early winter, we are pretty hectic. We run four lacrosse recruiting team tournaments in the summer in Baltimore, MD, and 11 individual showcases in the fall throughout the country. During this time, I get to the office, catch up on customer service tasks, including returning phone calls/emails. Then I update our registration and revenue numbers and do some cold-calling and marketing efforts for our upcoming events.

What would be your dream job be in sports management?

My dream job in the sports industry would be to work for a foundation within a hockey organization. I’ve always loved outreach and grassroots work within a community, and the hockey world is one that captivates me the most. A lot of the players and professional teams have their own foundations that work with local organizations such as Caps Care and the Bryan Bickell Foundation. I love knowing that my career could change the lives of others in a positive way.

Resources

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

The world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals with over 75,000 members, including registered dietitian nutritionists, dietetic technicians, professionals holding undergraduate and advanced degrees in nutrition and dietetics, and students. Membership includes Career Development, Professional Development, and a Career Toolbox.

American Medical Society for Sports Medicine

Multi-disciplinary organization of 2,700+ sports medicine physicians dedicated to education, research, advocacy and the care of athletes of all ages. Membership includes access to the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.

American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine

AOSSSM is an international organization of orthopedic surgeons and other allied health professionals dedicated to sports medicine. Membership includes a subscription to the American Journal of Sports Medicine and a Membership Directory.

American Sports Medicine Institute

A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit sports medicine research and education foundation located at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama. The site includes fellowship information and a resource library.

American Society of Exercise Physiologists

ASEP is a membership organization for exercise physiologists. It publishes Journal of Exercise Physiology. The site posts information about accredited programs.

Association for Applied Sport Psychology

AASP is an international, multidisciplinary, professional organization that offers certification to qualified professionals in the field of sport, exercise, and health psychology.

Association for Women in Sports Media

AWSM is a 501c3 international organization whose male and female membership supports the advancement and growth of women–both student and professional–in sports media.

Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education

The CAATE is recognized as an accrediting agency by the Council of Higher Education (CHEA).  The site includes a search engine for professional and post-professional programs.

Commission on Dietetic Registration

CDR is the credentialing agency for Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The site includes details about graduate programs, state licensure, and specialty certification.

ESPN Careers

This site posts detailed descriptions and application information about careers at ESPN.

MLB Careers

As a career board for jobs in Major League Baseball, this site posts internships and entry-level positions.

MLS Internships and Careers

This site updates opportunities for internships and careers in Major League Soccer.

National Athletic Trainers’ Association

NATA is a membership organization for athletic trainers and others who support the profession. Membership benefits include Continuing Education/Professional Development, Networking/Social Media Committees, and a Career Center.

National Collegiate Athletic Association

Membership organization dedicated to safeguarding the well-being of student-athletes in Division I, Division II, and Division III programs.

National Sports Marketing Network

NSMN is a trade organization for the sports business industry in the United States. Membership includes Networking, Job Matching, and Seminar information.

National Strength and Conditioning Association

This nonprofit, international education association is for professionals in strength and conditioning careers. The site includes a Featured Jobs Board.

NBA Career Opportunities

Visitors will find job listings for internships and careers in the NBA.

NFL Internship Program

Detailed application information about NFL Internship Program and entry-level positions in the organization.

Orthopedic Nurses Certification Board

ONCB offers information about certification exams including test-taking resources. ONCB certification programs are accredited by The Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification (ABSN)

Society of Health and Physical Educators

The largest organization of professionals involved in school-based health, physical education, and physical activity. The site includes the following sections: Professional Development, Grants & Scholarships, and Physical Education Resources.

Sport Marketing Association

SMA provides forums for professional interaction among practitioners, academics, and students dedicated to the sport marketing industry.