A career in sports is considered a dream job for a lot of people, and there are numerous pathways into the field. When people think about sports, they often think about the athletes, but there are many other jobs that exist to support those athletes or to promote them or the teams or leagues they represent.
Even though there are many different types of jobs, it is a competitive field. Those who will have the most success getting a foot in the door and advancing often are those who begin laying the groundwork for their careers in college.
Types of Sports Careers
The business of sports is broad, and nearly every professional field can be connected to sports in some way. Some of the most common paths include:
Business operations: Sports teams and sports leagues, no matter how big or small the operations, still are businesses and need to be as such. This means they will need accountants, bookkeepers, administrators, and more. At the highest levels, those who work with numbers need to be adept at understanding specific issues like salary caps and professional contracts. At the lowest levels, experience with fundraising and getting by with limited resources is valuable.
Sports management: This is a broad category can range from high school athletic directors all the way up to the general managers of major professional sports franchises. It also includes agents who represent athletes, and it’s not uncommon for them to have law degrees.
Marketing/public relations: To sell tickets, sports teams need to compete with other entertainment options in their markets in addition to other sports teams. Marketing a team and its players is a big part of this, and experienced marketing professionals can make it happen.
Journalism/broadcasting: Most journalists do not work for sports teams but for news organizations that cover the teams. However, broadcasters typically are employed by the teams, and it’s also not uncommon for print journalists to shift to the public relations side of the business and work for a team or a league-owned news outlet.
Health care: Major professional sports teams have their own team physicians, who are doctors who specialize in sports medicine. Additionally, many physical therapists work specifically with athletes.
Coaching/scouting: Most coaches and scouts are former players, but they’re not necessarily players who competed at the highest levels. Some are, but many are athletes who shifted to these roles once they realized their playing days were over.