The Top 10 Jobs in Sports
Published on March 24, 2021
Sports Event Planner | Sports Statistician or Data Analyst | Sports Journalist or Broadcaster | Athletic Director | Sports Marketing Manager | Exercise Physiologist | Athletic Trainer | Coach | Sports Medicine Physician | Communication or Public Relations Director
A career in sports is a dream come true for many people. Whether you're a former athlete or a passionate fan, getting a job doing something you love while being surrounded by like-minded people is a big win.
When most people think of sports jobs, they tend to think of major league athletes, coaches, and trainers. But sports jobs exist across all types of occupations and industries, including healthcare, travel, communication, retail, manufacturing, law, and finance.
We've compiled a list of the top 10 jobs in the sports industry. Many of these careers pay well and are projected to see substantial job growth in the coming years. Read on if you're passionate about sports and want to find a sports career that suits your strengths.
Sports Event Planner
If you've ever been to a large sports event and wondered who put it all together, you have a skilled sports event planner to thank.
Event planners operate behind the scenes, handling event and travel logistics, venue selection, and contractor and vendor management. These professionals may also be in charge of event promotion and coordinate event security. Event planners need excellent communication and organizational skills.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for meeting, convention, and event planners will grow 8% between 2019 and 2029 — twice as fast as the average growth for all occupations. Though demand for event planning dropped considerably due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry is expected to bounce back.
The median annual salary for event planners is $50,600, with the top 10% earning more than $86,390.
Sports Statistician or Data Analyst
Statisticians and researchers working in the sports industry study and analyze complex sets of data related to players, teams, and leagues. Their work can help organizations predict outcomes, scout players, improve athlete performance, maintain player health, and improve fan attendance.
Sports statisticians and analysts work for college and professional teams, media outlets, and sports data companies. The growing popularity of fantasy sports leagues and esports is likely to lead to substantial job growth in this category.
The job outlook for statisticians and mathematicians is exceptionally strong, with 33% growth projected between 2019 and 2029. The median annual salary for statisticians is $91,160, with the highest 10% bringing home more than $146,770 per year.
A master's degree in statistics, mathematics, economics, or computer science is normally required to get a job as a statistician, though some employers may require only a bachelor's degree for entry-level positions.
Sports Journalist or Broadcaster
Print and broadcast journalists are crucial for connecting fans to their favorite teams. Sports journalists and broadcasters work for news and entertainment outlets around the country, providing sports commentary, breaking news, and behind-the-scenes stories. They often interview players, coaches, owners, and league officials.
The BLS projects an 11% decline in the number of jobs for reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts from 2019 to 2029, primarily due to the reduction in readership and viewership of traditional media outlets. That said, sports websites like ESPN attract millions of visitors every month, and many are actively hiring.
Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts earn a median annual salary of $46,270.
A bachelor's degree in journalism, communication, or a similar field is usually required to land an entry-level position as a sports journalist or broadcaster. Internships can be a great way to get your foot in the door in this industry.
Athletic directors keep athletic programs from middle school to college running smoothly and efficiently. These professionals are typically responsible for hiring coaches and staff, planning and organizing game schedules, managing department budgets, monitoring student eligibility, coordinating travel, overseeing marketing and public relations efforts, and ensuring player safety.
The BLS projects 4% employment growth for postsecondary education administrators from 2019 to 2029. The median annual salary for college-level administrators is $95,410. PayScale reports an average annual salary of $60,820 for athletic directors at all levels.
A bachelor's degree in a sports-related field like athletic administration, sports management, sports or exercise science, or a similar field is what most employers look for when hiring athletic directors. A master's degree in one of these disciplines is usually required for university and district-level positions.
Sports Marketing Manager
Sports marketing managers work on behalf of teams, leagues, apparel companies, publicity agencies, sports management companies, and more.
These professionals are generally responsible for driving revenue through product sales, ticket sales, and sponsorships. Work often includes tasks associated with branding, digital marketing, content development, campaigns, and product research.
The BLS projects that jobs for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers will grow 6% between 2019 and 2029, or slightly faster than the average for all occupations. Marketing managers make a median annual salary of $136,850.
These health professionals work with athletes to develop and implement exercise programs designed to enhance conditioning, improve flexibility, and increase levels of strength and endurance. They also help rehabilitate clients with injuries and assist clients with disabilities.
Exercise physiologists may work for professional and collegiate sports teams, medical clinics, hospitals, and fitness centers. Makers of sports performance equipment sometimes collaborate with exercise physiologists when designing products.
The BLS projects that jobs for exercise physiologists will increase 11% from 2019 to 2029. Job growth is expected to stem from society's growing reliance on technology in the area of sports performance.
Exercise physiologists make a median annual salary of $49,170, with the top 10% earning over $78,000 per year.
You must typically have at least a bachelor's degree in a sports medicine-related field, such as exercise physiology, exercise science, or kinesiology. A master's degree in sports medicine may be required for more advanced positions.
Certification by the American College of Sports Medicine as a registered clinical exercise physiologist or certified exercise physiologist may also be mandatory.
Athletic trainers are responsible for preventing, diagnosing, and treating sports-related injuries that typically occur during training sessions, practices, and games. These trainers may also help teams comply with federal and state safety regulations, develop athlete nutrition programs, and conduct educational workshops.
Athletic trainers find positions at colleges and universities, high schools, professional sports teams, fitness centers, hospitals, and other medical facilities, often working under the direction of a physician.
The BLS projects 16% job growth for athletic trainers between 2019 and 2029. Demand is likely to come from the increased focus on player safety and injury prevention, especially with regard to concussions and other serious injuries that could have lasting effects. The median annual salary for athletic trainers is $48,440.
Athletic trainers need to have a bachelor's or master's degree from a certified athletic training program. Most states require passing of the Board of Certification Athletic Training exam.
Coaches guide professional and amateur athletes through the ins and outs of their particular sport. These professionals help teach and refine players' skills, run practices and workouts, oversee assistant coaches and other staff, recruit players, manage games, design plays, and scout opponents.
The BLS projects 12% employment growth for coaches and scouts between 2019 and 2029, which translates to an increase of approximately 34,000 jobs.
Coaches and scouts make a median annual salary of $34,840, with the top 10% earning over $79,000. Salaries vary according to location, type of sport, and school level, with coaching at the collegiate and professional levels paying the most.
Most employers prefer coaches and scouts to have a bachelor's degree in a field related to sports, health, or education. Playing experience and in-depth knowledge of the sport is also usually required. Most state high school athletic associations require coaches to be certified or complete mandatory education courses.
Sports Medicine Physician
Sport medicine physicians diagnose and treat primarily musculoskeletal conditions and injuries in both athletes and nonathletes who may be injured as a result of physical activity. Many also treat athletes with concussions, asthma, diabetes, and other conditions that can impact performance.
Additionally, these medical professionals often provide nutritional guidance to clients, notify coaches of players' rehabilitation progress, and provide referrals to other specialists.
The BLS projects 4% growth for all physicians and surgeons from 2019 to 2029. The median income for these professionals is a high $203,450 per year.
Physicians and surgeons must have a graduate degree from an accredited medical school. Undergraduates who plan to attend med school typically major in a science-related field, such as biology, physics, or chemistry.
In the final year of med school, you'll usually choose the type of medicine you want to practice. Upon graduating, you must complete 3-7 years of residency training.
Communication or Public Relations Director
Communication and public relations (PR) directors create and maintain a favorable public image for the company, team, or individual they represent. These professionals write and distribute press releases, respond to media and interview requests, monitor social media activity, and arrange and promote special events.
The BLS projects a job growth rate of 7% for PR specialists between 2019 and 2029. The median annual salary for PR specialists is $61,150, with 1 in 10 earning more than $115,000 per year.
A bachelor's degree in communication, public relations, journalism, English, marketing, or business is generally required for most positions in public relations and communication. Many organizations offer paid and unpaid internships for those just breaking into the field.
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