You don’t have to hang up your soccer cleats or trade in your tennis racket when your school days are over. By choosing a career in a sports-related field you can stay in the game indefinitely.
People who love athletics can work in areas as diverse as medicine, management, marketing, manufacturing and many other sports-occupational areas. Prospects are increasing as more people play and watch sports. With the explosion of sports for women and girls, entire industries have sprung up, such as women’s clothing and equipment. In other careers–like sports journalism and sports administration and sports training–opportunities for women to participate in previously male-dominated have, if not leveled the playing field, at least greatly expanded it.
There are over six million jobs in sports-related careers, according to Donna Lopiano, executive director of the Women’s Sports Foundation. While many of these jobs take special education and training, entry-level positions exist for young men and women willing to work their way up.
Careers in sports take many forms. While many young athletes dream of making it to the professional ranks, the reality is that very few make it that far. In other sports-related careers the news is more encouraging. From educators to architects, facilities managers to fitness instructors, physical therapists to professional athletes, there are positions to fill.
Below is a sample of jobs with suggested education and/or training requirements for breaking into the field.
Sports journalists report on the news of the sports world to the public. A four-year degree in journalism and/or equivalent writing experience is recommended. Job opportunities exist in newspapers and magazines, radio, and television. Most beginning journalists begin as interns on college newspapers, radio, or television stations or as general reporters on small-town newspapers. Curiosity, writing, and interviewing skills and the ability to work within deadlines are characteristics of successful journalists.
College and university coaches are responsible for getting athletic teams ready to play in competition. In smaller colleges they may coach several sports, while in larger institutions they are mainly responsible for just one team. Duties include recruiting players, developing game strategies, and teaching skills. Most college coaching positions require a minimum of four years of college. A typical career path might begin as an athlete, followed by becoming an assistant coach at the high school or college level.
An exercise physiologist studies how the stress of exercise affects the body. The most common areas in which exercise physiologists work are prevention–teaching healthy lifestyle habits–and rehabilitation–helping to restore function following an accident or debilitating illness. They may manage a wellness center, teach, or conduct research. Most jobs require a minimum of a master’s degree with an expertise in exercise physiology
A sports agent acts as a professional athlete’s representative in negotiating contracts, salaries, endorsements, and other business arrangements. Education includes a four-year college degree in business or a related major, often followed by a law degree. Negotiating skills, sales ability, and ability to work under stressful conditions are all traits of the successful sports agent.
A sports official is the field-of-play arbitrator of rules at an athletic event. The ability to make instantaneous decisions, resolve conflicts, and deal with stress and pressure, as well as the fitness level to keep up with the game are keys to success in this field. Men and women are needed to officiate in every sport and at every level from youth to professional leagues. Most people start by studying the rules of the sport and attending clinics, followed by officiating at youth and recreational levels. From there, dedicated officials can advance into high school and college sports. Officiating at the professional level is like playing in the pros—only a very few of the finest, most ambitious make it.
The areas with the most opportunities during the next five years are estimated to be new business development, sports apparel, internet marketing, coaching and athletic administration, and officiating.
Tips to getting started in a sports career:
• Assess your skills and determine how to translate them into a career in sports.
• Set goals. Think about what interests you and what you have to offer. Career planning is a process.
• Seek the advice of guidance counselors and do career research to create an educational program to fit your needs.
• Follow the educational or training plan you’ve developed.
• Get experience. Internships, work-study, part-time and summer jobs, and volunteering can help you prepare for a career and allow employers to assess your talents.
• Enter the job market, looking for entry-level positions or jobs that match your experience and that can be paths to your career goal.
• Network. Join professional organizations, attend conferences, volunteer for leadership positions. Seek a mentor—someone who can assist you on your career path.
While it’s not enough just to love a particular sport or sports in general, your passion can help you chose a career that combines business and pleasure.
Retail sales of sporting goods products
Sports equipment management and maintenance
Sports facilities management and maintenance
Careers also exist as:
Curators in sports museums
Officials and referees
Professional or college scouts