Education Requirements and Career Roadmap
Here is where you can find out how to become a sports manager. Learn about the specific education requirements and research the experience you’ll need to obtain to further your career in the sports management field.
What Is a Sports Manager?
A sports manager is responsible for overseeing the scheduling and organization of their clients. Professional sports managers are hired by organizations and individual athletes. Unlike a sports agent, a sports manager does not focus on negotiating contracts for their clients.
Rather, they ensure that their clients are receiving the proper training, nutrition, and personal attention that will enable them to perform to the utmost of their abilities. The specific duties of a sports manager will vary widely according to the needs of their clientele.
Examples of the venues that hire sports managers include professional and amateur leagues, academic institutions, sports marketing firms, and sporting goods companies. According to recent figures from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, sports managers earned an average of $123,720 nationwide.
What Are the Requirements for This Career?
Although formal education is not technically a requirement to become a sports manager, more than 85% of those who work in this field hold a bachelor’s degree in sports management or a related field.
Because the competition for jobs in this field is so fierce, having a graduate degree in business administration, sports management or sports medicine will provide a considerable asset. Internships are also looked upon favorably.
Non-educational requirements that one must have in order to become a sports manager include strong verbal and written communication skills, a thorough understanding of business and legal contracts, knowledge of league rules, and interpersonal skills.
How to Become a Sports Manager
These are the steps that you’ll need to follow in order to become a successful sports manager:
1. Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree
If you are aspiring to become a sports manager, the first step is to earn your bachelor’s degree. If the school you attend does offer a specialization in sports management or sports medicine, other useful majors you can choose include business administration, marketing, health, accounting, and business management.
When selecting a program and school to attend, try to choose a university or college that has been certified by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) and/or the North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM).
After you have earned your bachelor’s degree, you can become a member of these professional organizations in order to network and demonstrate your commitment to the industry.
2. Get the Appropriate Professional Licenses
- League Certifications – Professional licensing for sports managers begins at the league level. Each league has its own manager qualifications, tests, and certification process. You will be required to certify in the league you wish to work in. For example, if you wanted to represent players in both the National Basketball Association and the National Football League, each entity would require you to have a separate license. The process for becoming a certified sports manager is different for each field, but the process generally involves filling out an application, paying test fees, taking a test, receiving your certification (if you pass the test), and then obtaining official contracts from an organization or individual athlete.
- How to Become a Combative Sports Manager – Common examples of combative sports include wrestling, boxing, and mixed martial arts. Combative sports routinely have separate requirements for licensing sports managers. Because the chances of an athlete incurring injury are significantly higher, different laws are applicable, and sports agents and sports managers alike must obtain a combative sports agent license in the state where they plan to work.
- State Licenses – There are a handful of states in the U.S. that require sports managers to have separate licenses for non-combative sports beyond what a league requires. For example, in the state of Tennessee, a person who wishes to become licensed sports manager must pay a $500.00 fee, fill out an application, provide multiple references, and offer up their criminal history (if any). To find out if the state you live in requires this additional license, you can contact the board of professional regulation in your state.
3. Consider the Available Options for Advancing Your Career
Since the sports industry has such fierce competition for jobs, most budding sports managers will eventually choose to earn their master’s degree in order to give them a leg up on other applicants. A master’s degree generally takes between 1 and 3 years to complete.
The most popular master’s degree concentrations among sports managers are:
- Master of Science in Sports Medicine – This course of study focuses on health related issues for athletes, which includes prevention of injuries, health assessment, health management, and rehabilitation after injury.
- Master of Business Administration – Although a Master of Business Administration does not focus specifically on sports management, it does demonstrate a strong commitment to excellence and an individual’s dedication to pursuing mastery of their field. If available, you should pursue a concentration in marketing, finance, or business management. This degree is especially beneficial in that it teaches students how to develop a brand for individuals and organizations.
- Masters of Science in Sports Management – Offered by a select few universities in the United States, this advanced degree focuses on preparing you for a career in every level of management, including professional, collegiate, amateur, and recreational.
What Career Paths Does Sports Management Have to Offer?
Sports teams and facilities offer a plethora of entry-level job opportunities for those who graduate with a bachelor’s degree; however, you will want to ensure that you are situated in a community or city that has a thriving sports scene.
Should you decide to pursue your master’s degree in a related field, you’ll discover that it opens up many new career trajectories.
For example, if you want to become a sports manager working to earn a Master of Business Administration, regardless of your concentration, you will be placed in a prime position for an executive position – both off and on the field.
Likewise, learning to become a sports manager by earning a Master of Science in Sports Management will qualify you to become a corporate sponsorship director, general manager, or sports administrator. If you are passionate about research or would like to teach on an academic level, then you may wish to pursue a doctorate degree.
There are two primary doctorate degrees that sports managers pursue: a Doctorate of Education (EdD) in sports management or a Doctorate of Philosophy in sports management. If you love business and sports, there are an ample amount of like career options to research.
In the realm of sports, you can focus on public relations, broadcasting, physical therapy, or medicine. On the business side of things, you can partake of human resources, accounting, finance, or business administration. Ultimately, how far your career takes you is up to you.