You have always been passionate about sports. When it became obvious you weren’t cut out for a career as a professional athlete, you sought credentials in the next best thing: sports management. Indeed, sports managers are integral to the world of sports, ensuring that teams and athletes have all the tools to perform perfectly on the field or court.
However, it isn’t always wise to enter an advanced degree program that has only one career track. Though the sports industry is booming, there are only so many high-powered sports managers. What else can you do with this degree if you can’t find a sports management position right away?
Fortunately, the answer is: quite a bit. Here are a few other sports management careers you can pursue after you graduate with your advanced sports management degree.
Perhaps the most direct application of a sports management degree (outside the sports management career track), an athletic director is a top administrator within athletic programs at colleges, high schools and similar institutions. Primarily, they are tasked with supervising coaches and other members of athletic departments, which includes the hiring and firing of staff. However, some athletic directors are also responsible for administrative duties like budgeting, organizing sporting events and representing athletes to academic faculty. According to Salary.com, the median salary for athletic directors is $108,437, showing that this is an enviable job for those interested in a career adjacent to sports.
For a career that puts you in closer contact with athletes themselves, you might consider becoming a sports agent. Like sports managers for individual athletes, sports agents represent athletes in discussions with teams, leagues and sponsors to help athletes gain more favorable terms within contracts. Agents need certification through a relevant league or association, which usually requires passing an exam and/or paying a fee. For this, agents can earn a median salary of $62,080.
Sports Marketing Specialist
Sports need good marketing just like any other business. Teams, leagues, events and even individual athletes hire marketing specialists to create campaigns that sell. Often, sports marketers work within organizations, but there are sports marketing firms that provide outsourced marketing services. Your degree in sports management will educate you on the typical tactics and techniques of sports marketing, so you can quickly rise through these ranks. The median pay for all marketing managers (not just those in sports) is $129,380, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Facility managers are tasked with overseeing the care and maintenance of sports-related buildings and structures. They organize services like cleaning and security, and they ensure there is sufficient athletic equipment and parking available for athletes, staff and fans. This administrative task is incredibly important; without strong, well-kept facilities, most athletes are incapable of performing their jobs. As such, facility managers typically earn an average salary of $114,490.
Fitness Center Manager
It’s not uncommon for previous athletes to entertain ideas of opening a fitness center, and with a sports management education, you can do so successfully. Gyms and recreational facilities require a different type of management than other organizations; managers in this sphere must comply with health and safety codes while maintaining equipment and facilities not unlike a facility manager. General managers at gyms earn just over $40,000 per year in salary, but gym owners can easily generate a six-figure income.
Health Club Manager
Slightly different from fitness centers, health clubs tend to offer more luxurious services for the fitness and health-minded client. For example, health clubs tend to have courts and courses for sports like tennis, golf, racquetball and similar sports. Additionally, they often boast saunas and spas as well as fitness classes that use unique equipment like spin bikes and Pilates reformers. In this career, you are likely to make around $80,000 per year.
Camp directors organize and oversee summer camps and campgrounds. They perform the administrative duties of the camp, hiring camp staff, organizing services and activities and taking responsibility for the health and safety of everyone in the campground. According to PayScale, the average salary for this role is $38,944, but it is possible to increase that wage with education and experience.
Sports management programs provide a wealth of knowledge about the business side of athletics, which means you can apply your education to a wide realm of career paths. Before you commit to a certain career, you should explore your options to see which fits your interests and abilities best.