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Jobs in the Sports Industry


If you have a passion for sports and want to take that passion and make a career out of it, you are in luck. There will be a growing number of sports-related jobs in the coming years. People who work in the sports industry are usually athletes, coaches, umpires, or instructors. 

Professional athletes must be among the best in their sport to obtain a job with a professional team or earn a living. There are many sports that offer professional leagues, and most athletes aspire to play for a team in one of them.

There are other sports, such as tennis and golf, where athletes do not need to be part of a team, but must outplay competitors in order to earn prize money and make a living.

Some of these individuals, especially golf and tennis professionals, can become professional instructors at golf clubs, tennis clubs, or resorts, or give private lessons. Many ex-athletes pursue fitness trainer jobs when their playing days are over.

Coaches are hired by leagues, schools, and universities to coach that organization’s team. A winning record is usually required to get hired. Some coaches start out as assistant coaches and are then promoted as opportunity permits.  Umpires officiate during league games, making sure that teams are following the rules of play.

There are other sports-related jobs, but here is a list of some of the more prevalent sports-related job opportunities that are available today:

  • Assistant coach
  • Baseball player
  • Basketball player
  • Cyclist
  • Coach
  • Football player
  • Golf professional
  • Head Coach
  • Referee
  • Scout/Recruiter
  • Soccer player
  • Swimmer
  • Tennis professional
  • Umpire

Sports Coach Working photoMost of these professionals enjoy their occupations because they get paid for doing what they love to do - play their sport. Others enjoy the working environment associated with being employed by a sports team. Here’s more information about the outlook, salary, and education and training needed to obtain a job in the sports industry. Also, if interested in something seasonal see our ski industry jobs website.

Employment Outlook

Demand will be increasing for athletes, coaches, umpires/referees, and instructors, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Bureau says the number of jobs in the field will increase by 23% by 2018. This increase will be due to the increase in population in the country, a population who will continue to enjoy sports for recreation and entertainment, according to the Bureau.

The Bureau also says that there are some states that employ more people in sports-related jobs than others. These states are Rhode Island, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, and Idaho.

Salary Outlook

It’s well known that some top athletes can earn millions of dollars a year in salaries, bonuses, and commercial endorsements. The majority of players do not fall into that category, although they can earn much higher salaries than the average. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the average annual salary for athletes, coaches, and umpires/referees is approximately $40,000. But this does include coaches and umpires. The average annual salary for athletes alone is approximately $81,000, according to the Bureau.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also says certain states offer athletes higher salaries than others. These states are Colorado, New York, Minnesota, California, and Washington.

Education and Training Requirements

Professional athletes do not have to have a bachelor’s degree in order to work for a professional team. However, depending on the sport, some athletes play the sport throughout their school years and college, and are scouted and found by professional teams this way.

Professional athletes must have thorough knowledge of their chosen sport, including its rules and regulations and strategies. This knowledge is most often acquired by playing throughout a person’s school years.

Most high school and college coaches are required to possess a bachelor’s degree in order to obtain a coaching job. Referees and umpires usually attend a training academy to become a certified referee or umpire. This usually means they must pass a written test and then are observed while officiating a game to ensure the umpire/referee has the knowledge and ability needed for the job.

The world of sports offers many exciting opportunities for a variety of athletes. Today there are more professional teams and organizations than ever before, and people who truly love a sport can find employment, whether that is through playing as an athlete, coaching, recruiting, or officiating. Sports jobs can be fun and rewarding, but people must be sure they have the talents and abilities needed if they are going to get a job in this competitive field.

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