Sports Management Careers

When you hear the words “sports management,” you may think of those who directly manage competition at the ground level. In reality, this field encompasses many different career options. It ranges from those who manage teams and players to those who manage entire franchises. Sports management careers may describe work in broadcasting, training and nutrition, facility oversight, and many more areas indirectly related to competitions themselves.


What are the typical duties of a sports manager?

To understand sports management jobs, you have to look beyond the games. Professionals in this field might manage anything from actual teams to the software used to evaluate talent. There are numerous subfields in this complex industry one might choose to specialize in as well. You might work within a marketing or finance division of a sporting organization, for example.

Those with related education can also be found working as sports management professionals. In addition to those with a business-oriented focus, individuals educated in medicine can often establish a foothold in the sports business. One might work as a health and nutrition expert for high school athletes, or possibly serve as a counselor for pro-level competitors, for two examples.

What type of certification or education is needed?

A viable starting point is to first obtain your associate’s degree. With this foundational piece in hand, the next step is to narrow your focus on a specific field which interests you. You might choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in sports management directly, if your school offers one. If not, it’s important to remember that numerous degree programs can help you find your way into this field. Consider relevant education in health, marketing, accounting, and of course, business administration.

Education doesn’t necessarily end with your bachelor’s degree. The sports industry is attractive to many workers, which means tough competition for good jobs. Spending an additional year or two in school can allow you to obtain a master’s degree, thereby giving you a much greater advantage when seeking your new career. Consider these options:

  • Master of Science in Sports Management: Earning your degree in this program will signify your readiness for management of sporting activities at each major level. You’ll be prepared for everything from amateur and juvenile sports through collegiate and professional competition.
  • Master of Science in Sports Medicine: Pursue this program if you wish to specialize in areas such as athlete healthcare. Detailed focuses often include injury assessment, treatment, and supervision of rehabilitation programs.
  • Master of Business Administration: Obtaining your MBA displays a dedication to knowledge and proficiency in your field. It can help you find work in areas such as marketing, finance, and other administrative areas of sports management.

Before enrolling in a specific program, check with the school to confirm that they’re approved by both the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) and the North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM). This will allow you valuable membership into these organizations after completing your degree program, providing you with important networking tools.

What career options are available in this field?

There are many jobs with sports management degree requirements, but the one you choose will depend largely on your current level of education. For instance, a bachelor’s degree will get your foot in the door for many entry level positions. You’ll need to continue your education to work your way up to higher-level opportunities, such as head coach, general manager, athletic administrator, or even a position such as director of corporate sponsorship.

Whether you’re still actively engaged in your education or you’re already a working professional, earning your doctoral degree can open up even greater opportunities:

  • Pursuing a Doctor of Education in sports management generally allows intensive focus on Olympism or sports medicine. Olympism is the study of the structure of the Olympic Games and the related development of mind and body.
  • Conversely, a Doctor of Philosophy in sports management focuses on the study of sociological and psychological facets of sports. This can result in very unique job opportunities.

Finally, students who pursue education in business can enjoy plentiful opportunities. This is because your degree is applicable not only to sports-related business needs, but general administration and executive management as well. Your degree could earn you consideration for jobs in international business or human resources. It could also apply to sports or even music management careers just the same. Ultimately, the program you choose to pursue will depend on your long-term career aspirations.


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Updated Sep 14 2016 About content Print Topic