Sports – they’re a hobby for some, a passion for many, and a way of life for a few. The sports industry is booming in the United States and around the world, with 2017 revenues of $519.9 billion in the U.S. and $1.3 trillion worldwide. Careers in the sports industry aren’t just limited to athletes either. There are tens of thousands of jobs for general managers, fitness directors, coaches, recruiters, professors, PR people, marketing people, sales people, and more.
How can you get into this thriving, dynamic, and promising industry? A degree in sports management will open doors to a fulfilling and even lucrative career in sports. The industry needs creative, flexible, organized, and talented individuals to fill a surplus of roles. If you’ve always wanted to work in sports, the time is right to get your foot in the door.
What You Can Do with a Degree in Sports Management
When you think of earning a degree in sports management, you probably think of someday becoming the general manager of a sports team. While that’s one possible career track in the sports management field, it’s far from the only one – and it’s one of the more prestigious ones for sure.
That’s not to say that you can’t become a general manager. It’s a generally well-paying role, even in the minor leagues, though you’ll need to gain some experience to qualify for it. However, if you’re not interested in managing a team’s business affairs, hiring and developing new players, and coming up with new strategies to market your team, there are plenty of other roles you can pursue in sports management.
For example, you might be more interested in using your communication skills to work as a PR agent for an athlete or team, managing their public reputation. Perhaps you’re a people person with strong negotiation and networking skills – maybe you’d be happy as a sports agent or sales representative. If you enjoy mentoring people you could have a promising career as a personal trainer or sports coach, helping athletes realize their full potential.
A career in sports management doesn’t have to mean working for the big leagues either. There are positions at every level of the industry, from amateur and youth sports, to organizational or community fitness programs and facilities, to minor league and collegiate sports. You could even go on to earn a doctorate in the field and teach sports management at the university level as a professor.
The Credentials You’ll Need
Many career tracks in the sports management industry will require a masters degree, especially roles with more responsibility such as marketing manager, general manager, event coordinator or fitness director. However, many roles require only a bachelor’s degree, and it may not necessarily need to be in sports management. Since so many roles – like those in sales, PR, analytics or marketing – require a mixed skill set, many professionals prepare by earning a relevant bachelor’s degree in fields like communications, business administration, journalism, marketing, or business analytics. They then combine that bachelor’s degree with a master’s in sports management. Thanks to online masters in sports management programs, it’s possible to earn your sports management degree while also gaining work experience at an entry-level job in the industry.
How to Land That First Job
Recent advances in technology and a flood of advertising and sponsorship money have opened up thousands of new jobs in the sports industry that didn’t even exist 10 or 15 years ago. That means there are more jobs available for sports management professionals than there are qualified candidates. While you should showcase your creativity, time management skills, attention to detail, and communication skills in your resume and application materials, you can afford to be a little selective when choosing a position.
Remember, that the industry is relatively small; try not to alienate anyone at this early stage of your career. Be careful to respect the time of hiring managers when pursuing job opportunities. Do enough research to be sure you’re interested in a position before you pursue it; tap your contacts, colleagues and even recruiters for more information so you don’t string along people who could be in a position to thwart your next career move.
If you’re passionate about sports, you’re certainly not alone – enough people love sports to turn it into one of the nation’s most lucrative industries. A master’s degree in sports management could be the qualification you need to turn your passion into a long and productive career.
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