The world of sports is more than just a national pastime—it's a powerhouse industry that generates billions of dollars in revenue each year. Although not everyone may be qualified to become a star professional athlete, there are opportunities to build an exciting and dynamic career in sports. Sports management is a niche sector of the sports industry, and it comprises the professionals who work to put sports into action at all levels.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of job opportunities within the sports and entertainment sector is expected to grow at a fast rate between 2022 and 2032, with more than 106,000 new positions anticipated each year. With a positive career outlook on the horizon, now is a great time to discover the career possibilities that come along with earning a sports management degree.

A Glimpse Into Sports Management Courses

Sports management is a highly specialized degree program; however, it is based on an interdisciplinary approach that provides students with a well-rounded background in the sports industry as well as business, law, marketing, and finance. The sports management courses required as part of the degree program are designed to help students develop critical competencies, including business management, data analysis, communication, marketing, sporting event management, and industry-specific technology skills.

Some of the sports management courses you may take as part of your degree program include:

  • Athletics administration
  • Psychology of sport
  • Foundations of sport and recreation management
  • Managerial finance
  • Sports law and governance

In addition to the core sports management curriculum, you would have an opportunity to complete other courses that balance out your degree program. These might include:

  • Microeconomics and macroeconomics
  • Public speaking
  • Introduction to statistics
  • Business analytics
  • Public relations
  • Crisis communication
  • Parks and recreation management

Students can often make course selections that tailor the degree program to their personal interests as well as help them accomplish their professional goals.

8 Career Opportunities in Sports Management

Earning a degree in sports management can open the door to a vast variety of sports industry careers, such as public relations, marketing, coaching, sports agency, event coordinating, athletic program development, and more. Career opportunities are available at every level of sports, from local community athletic programs to professional sports teams and organizations.

These are some of the career possibilities available to graduates who earn a degree in sports management:

1. Sports Agent

Sports agents are industry professionals who specialize in athlete representation and work to advance their careers, both on and off the field. One of the primary job responsibilities of a sports agent is to participate in sports contract negotiations, but they also actively work to secure public relations opportunities, business partnerships, and sponsorship deals.

Typically, a sports agent is paid on commission, meaning much of their own career success hinges heavily upon their clients’ success. According to Glassdoor, in the United States, the average sports agent makes about $73,000 per year.

In addition to having a background in sports management, sports agents must also be tenacious individuals with a strong foundation in finance, business principles, and marketing strategies.

2. Event Coordinator

Within the sports industry, event coordinators plan participative and spectator sporting events that take place at a sports facility, like a football field or arena. While a sports event coordinator may be largely responsible for planning athletic events—such as coordinating practices or planning games for a particular facility—they also may work to secure other types of events for the facility in order to generate incremental income.

According to Indeed, some job responsibilities of a sports event coordinator may include preparing the facility, monitoring ticket sales, accommodating media for the event, and assembling an event planning team for the day of the event. PayScale notes that the average salary for an event coordinator in the United States is about $46,000 per year.

3. Sports Marketing Specialist

A sports marketing specialist works to design and plan sports-related marketing strategies. Someone working for a sports marketing firm may have a client base consisting of individual athletes, teams, or entire sports organizations, and they could be responsible for designing and monitoring dynamic marketing strategies that build brand awareness for their clients. Most sports marketing professionals are tasked with creating campaigns to help clients reach their revenue goals.

  • Common job responsibilities associated with this position include:
  • Performing sports data analysis to identify upcoming trends
  • Securing athlete endorsements
  • Creating strategic advertisements for clients
  • Evaluating analytics to gauge the success of the marketing campaign

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for marketing specialists is about $78,000.

4. Team Manager or General Manager

A team manager is a professional responsible for overseeing all aspects of sports team management, including coordinating team logistics, scheduling appearances, managing ticket sales, working with the media, and providing athletes with ongoing support. Team managers can be employed by local sports organizations as well as semi-professional and professional sports teams—but regardless of the level at which they work, these individuals must be organized, detail-oriented, and dedicated. Team managers handle a wide range of responsibilities, and a team often looks to them for answers and solutions.

Sports team managers need to not only have an expert understanding of the sports industry, but also to be well-versed in the best finance and marketing practices. Sports team managers earn an average annual salary of about $65,000.

5. Athletic Director (for Schools and Colleges)

An athletic director is responsible for athletic program administration at an individual school or college. They may work at the high school or college level, and they oversee all sports within their department.

The job responsibilities of an athletic director will vary based on the size of the school for which they work and the scope of its athletic department. At a larger high school, college, or university, an athletic director would take a more managerial approach, generally focusing on the larger picture and financial health of the department while their coaches and mid-level managers handle day-to-day tasks. At a smaller school, however, an athletic director may adopt a hands-on approach in which they are highly involved in the growth and development of individual athletic programs.

The average base salary for an athletic director in the United States is about $66,000 per year, but actual salary level may vary significantly based on the school where an athletic director is employed and the overall success of the program.

6. Sports Facilities Manager

Those fascinated by the operational side of sports may be well-suited to a career in facilities management. A sports facilities manager is a professional who oversees operations at an individual athletic facility. They are often employed directly by the facility and have a variety of job responsibilities, such as:

  • Planning and coordinating events
  • Monitoring ticket sales
  • Overseeing facilities staff and delegating tasks
  • Maintaining regulatory compliance

Sports facilities managers can enjoy having a front-row seat as athletic games and other events at the facilities come to fruition. According to ZipRecruiter, in the United States, the average annual salary for sports facilities managers is about $65,000.

7. Sports Publicist or PR Specialist

Primarily focusing on public relations in sports, publicists and PR specialists are responsible for team branding and promotion as well as athlete media relations. Their goal is to generate positive press coverage for their clients, allowing each client to create a brand identity and generate additional sponsorship opportunities.

According to the BLS, a public relations professional earns a median salary of about $67,000 per year.

8. Sports Law Professional

Sports attorneys often work directly with athletic organizations or individual athletes to offer counsel on contracts, negotiations, and finances. They also assist their clients with navigating legal disputes, which can be common in the sports industry. notes that the average annual salary for a sports lawyer in the United States is about $105,000 per year.

In addition to the specific skills and knowledge gained through a sports management degree, those aspiring to become sports attorneys must also obtain a Juris Doctorate (JD) degree. Prospective sports lawyers typically pursue their JD after completing their undergraduate studies, often focusing on sports law, contract law, and other relevant legal areas. This additional educational step is essential for acquiring the legal acumen and credentials necessary to represent athletes and sports organizations in legal matters effectively. Acquiring a JD not only equips individuals with a comprehensive understanding of the legal framework surrounding sports but also opens doors to a broader range of career opportunities within the sports law sector.

Skills and Traits Beneficial for Careers in Sports Management

Those aspiring to work in the sports realm should focus on highlighting the skills and traits that make them qualified for open positions. These are some of the most sought-after skills and traits in sports management professionals:

Agile – While you don't necessarily have to be a fit and agile athlete, you do need to be a responsible professional who knows how to manage their time well and adapt accordingly at a moment's notice. Flexibility is key in the sports industry, where last-minute changes may require a swift pivot in your priorities.

Analytical – The sports industry as a whole is becoming increasingly dependent on data and technology, meaning that analytical minds are in high demand at every level. The ability to digest, understand, and effectively leverage data will help propel your sports career forward.

Creative – In order to stay relevant in the evolving sports industry, sports professionals should be creative individuals who enjoy thinking outside the box and developing innovative solutions to complex problems.

Communicative – Whether you pursue a career in coaching, public relations, or sports event sponsorship, you will need to be a clear and effective communicator. Knowing how to write clearly and rely on the most efficient communication tools would help you succeed in any profession you choose within the sports industry.


Learn More, Today

You could position yourself for success within the ever-evolving sports industry by enrolling in a degree program that’s rooted in leading business principles yet provides plenty of hands-on learning opportunities. At the University of Minnesota, we offer an online Bachelor of Science in Sports and Recreation Management degree that helps you establish the foundation needed to launch a career in sports.

Request more information about online programs at the University of Minnesota today.