Student-athletes—even if they don’t go pro—have many job possibilities if they choose to work in a sports related field. For former student-athletes, using their talents, love for sports and the networking base they built in high school or college will help them have a successful career.
Some sports career ideas that might interest you are: strength and conditioning coach, high school or college coach, sports broadcaster, sports marketer, sportswriter, personal trainer, sports agent, umpire or official, sports psychologist, team doctor, or working for a professional sports team. Other sports-related careers include athletic trainer, facility management, sports finance and sports entertainment and event planning.
The best thing a young athlete who hopes to have a sports-related career can do right now is seek a sports-related internship.
Why internships matter
In the sports industry, internships are critical to young professionals seeking their first job in sports. An internship is a short-term job; it will last anywhere from several weeks to a year. They are entry-level positions that allow students or recent graduates to learn the basics at a sports-related company. There are internships in sports marketing and promotions, public relations, athletics administration and other areas.
Some jobs you might pursue:
- Working for a professional sports team
These jobs are often hard to get. Entry-level jobs don’t usually have high pay, but the perks often make it worthwhile for the lucky person of a job in one of the major leagues. NHL, NBA, MLB and NFL jobs are the hardest to come by. Try working for other leagues where the competition may be less fierce. Networking is an important key to landing one of these jobs. Be bold, polished and well-connected.
- College athletics
Jobs in college athletics range from coaching to marketing, communications (sports information jobs), administration, accounting and more.
- Sports agent
Many agents say the hardest part of this job is getting the first big client. Many agents start off with players who don’t bring in much money, but they manage them well and are then able to woo a bigger name athlete who helps them start turning a profit.
- Coach (high school or college)
A four-year degree is almost always required. Colleges prefer a master’s degree, but many college coaches have only a bachelor’s degree. Some type of playing background in a sport is often but not always required. Experience and knowing people in the field of athletics is often necessary for landing top college jobs. Becoming a high school coach first and working your way into college is possible but not necessary.
Tips for using your sports network to get a great job
Remember those coaches of the teams you’ve competed against? Keep track of them and call on them to ask about their network. They just might know the person with the key to your dream internship.
Starting in an entry-level position will offer opportunities for networking. Salary shouldn’t be your sole motivator in finding your first job. Think about the people you can meet in each job possibility.
Choose a summer job or internship that is sports related. Consider the YMCA, pro teams, working for a sports agent, youth league coaching and officiating.
Getting a job or internship in college will likely lead to a better understanding of the areas in which you excel. Internships are also a great way to build a solid network of people in sports related careers that can help you get a job later.
Coach Laura Mitchell is CEO and founder of Sports Dreammakers Inc. and a former college head basketball coach and outreach counselor for the University of California.