The popularity of the sports management profession is growing at a rapid pace, and this is reflected in the fact that more than 300 universities and colleges in the United States now offer undergraduate and/or graduate degrees related to sports management and business.
As of 2104, the U.S. sports industry had an estimate total revenue of $450 billion to $470 billion, and it is these multi-billion dollar profits that are fueling the growth of the sports management industry.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the sports management professions is projected to grow by 9% over the next 10 years, which is significantly faster than the national average for other industries.
There is a pervading aura of glamour that surrounds the sports management occupation, and with sports managers across the country earning an average annual salary of $64,200.00, it is not difficult to see why this profession is attractive to so many.
In reality, being a successful sports manager requires years of hard work and tenacity; however, if you love sports and are passionate about working with others, you would be hard pressed to find a more fulfilling career.
So how do you get started? As with most professions, it starts with receiving the appropriate education, but if you think you are going to spend the next four years in a classroom, listening to some professor drone on and on, it’s time for a reality check.
In the sports management industry, college is where your career starts, and it is the first opportunity you have to make yourself stand out from the competition. The earlier you get started, the better off you will be!
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What Is a Sports Management Degree? How Do I Get One?
To kick off your career as a sports manager, your first step will be to acquire your bachelor’s degree in sports management, sports administration, or a closely related field.
There are a handful of online programs that offer an associate’s degree program for sports management; however, experts caution that these programs, which are mostly offered by for profit colleges, should be viewed with a wary eye.
The general consensus is that students will be best served by attending a traditional, on campus program for sports management.
In order to enroll in a sports management program, you must have earned your high school diploma or your GED. An increasing number of sports management programs are beginning to require students to apply for admission into the program during their sophomore year.
In these instances, students will often be required to have an overall minimum GPA of 2.75 or higher. Relevant extracurricular activities are looked upon favorably.
Even after you have earned your bachelor’s degree, be prepared to devote one to three years pursuing a graduate degree.
Although having a master’s degree is not technically required to become a sports management, the competition for these positions is so rigorous that many aspiring managers go on to pursue one – simply to make themselves more attractive to prospective employers.
In most states, including California, Florida, and Georgia, an individual who represents an athlete in any professional capacity (like a sports manager or a sports agent) is required to become registered or licensed.
There is no single, national governing body for this process, so each state will have its own unique set of requirements. In most instances, a sports manager will only be required to submit to a background check, in addition to any applicable fees.
Depending on the sport(s) that a manager’s clients work in, he or she may also need to obtain league certifications.
Is It Worth All of the Trouble?
In addition to the attractive salary, there are a number of benefits that accompany becoming a sports manager. For example, if you are passionate about sports, you will work in a field that you love each day.
You will have the opportunity to meet industry leads on a daily basis, who range from talented managers and athletes to savvy marketing heads and brilliant business executives.
Then, there are the tangible benefits to consider. The health and dental insurance provided by the sports industry is among the best in the world. Many employees frequently score apparel, tickets to major sporting events, travel, and much more at steeply discounted rates.
Sports leagues, and even individual clients, are liberal and generous with monetary bonuses.
Arguably, one of the most important aspects of working in sports management is the job security it has to offer. There are currently more than 16,500 professional athletes in the United States, and this number is expected to continue to grow astronomically over the next decade. As a sports manager, you become the de facto, go to person for the individual athlete or athletic organization that you work for.
You will know the ins and outs of how the system works, all of the individual quirks of the athletes you work for, and the federal and state laws that protect your job. For all of the aforementioned reasons, sports management is a smart career choice.
The Bachelor’s Degree In Sports Management
Obtaining your bachelor’s degree in sports management is the critical first step in preparing for a successful career within the profession. The good news is that aspiring sports managers have multiple different options when it comes to developing a degree plan.
If the college you are planning on attending does not specifically offer a sports management major, you can alternately choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in one of these related fields:
- Business Administration
- Fitness and Wellness
- Risk Management
For example, Temple University is widely regarded as having one of the best sports management programs in the country. Here are just a few of the core courses a sports management major would take under their program:
Sports and Society
This course is an introduction to the nature, scope, and significance of the total field of sport and recreation management.
The course will address the benefits of sport and recreation, the problem areas facing sport and recreation management, the socio-cultural dimensions of sport and recreation as they relate to sport and recreation management.
Organizational Strategy in Sport and Recreation
This course focuses on the strategic challenges confronting firms that compete in the global economy within the sport and recreation industries. It provides students a forum in which to apply and integrate business theories, practices and skills in a global environment.
Management in Sport and Recreation
Provides the knowledge required to formulate and manage effectively the resources in a sport or recreation operation.
Human resource administration will be a major focus; managerial history, organizational needs, job designs, recruitment process, hiring/firing process, discipline and grievance procedures, motivation and performance appraisals are included.
Law & Ethics in Sport and Recreation
This course is designed to address the legal and ethical aspects of sport, recreation, park resources, and leisure services.
The course will address legal foundations and the legislative process; contracts and tort law; regulatory agents and methods of compliance; the principles and practices of safety, emergency, and risk management related to sports.
Research in Sport and Recreation
This course will examine ways that research helps solve practical industry problems in recreation and sports. Topics will include problem identification, the logic of research, research designs, information search strategies, questionnaire development, and data analysis.
Other classes that you may encounter in a sports management program include marketing, accounting, business law, project management, and macroeconomics.
Master’s Degree Programs in Sports Management
You’ll often hear mentioned how competitive the sports management industry is. For this reason, many college graduates go on to pursue master’s degrees for the purpose of making themselves look more attractive to prospective employers.
There are Ph.D. programs in sports management available as well; however, most individuals who pursue a doctoral program do so with the intention of working in academia.
The curriculum of a master’s degree program is designed to prepare students to assume administrative and management roles within the fields of sports medicine and sports management.
Graduate students will have the option of pursuing a Master’s of Science in Sports Management or a Master’s of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Sports Management. There are several differences between the two.
At the core of an MBA degree are business classes, and learning business fundamentals comprises a large percentage of the program’s focus.
With a concentration in sports management or a closely related field (like marketing or finance) students will be prepared assume leadership roles within this competitive profession.
An MBA is highly desirable for persons who wish to work as both sports managers and sports agents, particularly when you consider the amount of money that is involved in athletes’ produce endorsements and contract negotiations.
By comparison, a Master’s of Science degree in sports management will provide students with a more generalized, well-rounded education.
If you were to pursue this degree program, then you would be equipped with a multidisciplinary degree that would enable you to assume management positions in all levels of sports, including professional, collegiate, amateur, arena, juvenile, community, and recreational.
M.S. degrees, on average, take approximately two years to complete. Graduates are also prepared to work in the sports profession as general managers, head coaches, corporate sponsorship directors, and sports administrators.
Although not directly related to sports management, it is not uncommon for individuals with undergraduate degrees in sports management to pursue an M.S. in Sports Medicine. A two-year, intensive program, this M.S. concentration focuses on the healthcare issues and injuries that athletes often suffer from.
Students are taught how to identify, assess, prevent, manage, and rehabilitate injured athletes. Many graduates of this program often go on to work for professional or collegiate teams or for individual athletes.
The Future Outlook for Sports Management
Depending upon the specific aspect of the field you choose to specialize in, sports management careers can pay quite handsomely.
Although the pay for entry level sports management positions can often be described as “average” at best, what makes this profession stand out from other similar occupations is the tremendous opportunities and room for advancement.
For example, it’s not uncommon for the top tier of sports managers to receive lucrative bonuses on top of your standard salary.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, the median national annual salary for a business manager of athletes or an agent is $64,200.00.
However, actual salaries will vary widely based upon a variety of different factors within the profession, like geographic location, specialization within the field, and number of years of experience.
National long-term projections of employment growth may not be indicative of short term/local economic or job conditions.
The. U.S. BLS also reports that the top 25% of individuals who act as business managers for athletes have an annual median salary of $120,290.00.
The BLS predicts that job growth in the sports management profession will grow much faster than the national average for other industries through 2024 due to multi-billion dollar profits made major league sports franchises who are invested in expansion.
For example, the demand for sports agents and sports managers is expected to grow by 9%. However, competition for these positions is expected to be stiff.
Competition You’re Going to Face for a Job In Sports Management
The answer is quite a lot! Because of the ratio of qualified applicants to sports management openings, the competition will be fierce for employment within this profession.
Not only will you be competing for jobs with other sports management majors, but also with other people who have degrees in business, communications, and law – each of whom will be vying for the chance to have the “sporting life”.
Here are a few tips to distinguish yourself from your competition:
A successful sports manager must have a pragmatic and shrewd disposition, excellent decision-making abilities, and the ability to quickly adapt to constantly evolving conditions.
Choose the Right Geographic Market
There are locations throughout the country that have greater geographic proximity to major sport franchises and markets or who have a higher concentration of sports teams.
In these areas, your chances of finding that career-making internship or part-time position with a professional or collegiate sports teams are going to be significantly higher.
Wisely Choose Your Academic Market
When you deciding which college to attend, take a close look at each one’s sports management program. Is the program offered by the college’s school of business or by the physical education department? Who offers the program will affect the type of education you receive.
The physical education department will naturally focus more on the physical side of things, while a school of business will focus more on the business aspects of sports management.
Network, Network, Network
In the sports industry, there is plenty of truth in the old adage that it’s not what you know, but who you know. Jobs in the sports management industry are rare enough. Learn to speak on your own behalf.
Take Advantage of the Help the Internet Can Give You
The Internet can be an invaluable tool when it comes to finding internships and other hands-on learning opportunities. For example, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) offers paid, one-year internships for recent college graduates.
Choose Your College Wisely
When deciding which college you will be attending, you need to do so with an eye cast towards your future. Ideally, the university you attend should be sports focused, like a Pac-12 Conference School. You should always ensure that the college you will be attending is accredited.
Schools such as these will have much more to offer in the way of sports placement services and job leads than a non-sports-centric university.
So How Do I Find My Dream Job In Sports Management?
First and foremost, from the first day that you set foot on campus to earn your undergraduate degree, start networking! Attend career fairs. Conduct job shadowing. Attend networking events. Talk to your professors. Join student organizations. Make a concentrated effort to speak to recruiters whenever it is possible.
Secondly, in addition to maintaining an exemplary academic record, gain as much experience as you possibly can. Get involved in student competitions, volunteer programs, and student organizations. Find a part time job outside of campus.
Don’t Forget About Those Internships!
Because sports management is such a competitive profession, an internship is an invaluable, resume building experience to have.
Internships can sometimes turn into permanent positions, but more than that, an internship is about building your professional networks, about creating an academic foundation in the world of sports, and obtaining hands-on experience.
Internships are equally as important for sports management graduate students who are coming from other backgrounds and industries with their undergraduate degrees.
When it comes to finding the right internship, most people are familiar with the importance of getting involved in student organizations early on and the importance of networking.
Your university’s career placement services and department internship coordinator can also be valuable resources for finding the right internship, but don’t forget about the importance of the Internet.
Fortunately, there are some excellent places online that can assist you in finding sports management internships. Here are 3 of the most popular options for starting your internship search:
WorkInSports.com – Founded in 2000, WorkInSports is one of the premiere job boards in the sports industry, and they work with some of the industry’s biggest names. It allows users to search for jobs and internships by location, position, and job category.
Although it is free to search for positions, you must sign up for a paid subscription (available in one week, four- week, and three-month intervals) in order to apply through the website.
ESPN.com – ESPN offers multiple, highly competitive internships throughout the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Most of the internships are located in New York City, NY and Bristol, CT, but limited opportunities are available in other locations.
Each internship lasts for 10 weeks, and students are required to work a minimum of 40 hours a week, which includes some nights and weekends. Subsidized housing is available, and students receive competitive pay.
Internships.com – Although this broad site does not offer any specializations, a quick search will show that there are currently over 100 sports management internships available across the country.
The website also offers students a host of excellent resources on how to search for internships, how to prepare an application, and how to prepare for an interview.
The sports management industry is certainly cutthroat, but it is also growing and thriving.
Professional sports franchises make billions of dollars each year in profit, and there is a plethora of sports related careers for you to choose from – ranging from retail to academia to professional or community-related management.
As a motivated student, it is up to you to use your sports management degree to determine which niche is right for you.
Regardless of what sports management specialization you want to work in, you must be proactive if you want to secure your dream job. What this means is that you must learn as much as possible about the sports management profession.
The competition only grows fiercer when you start looking for positions in upper management and at the executive level. However, if you are willing to work your way up the proverbial ladder and obtain the right education and experience, you will find the position that suits your unique set of talents.
Your sports management degree will prepare you for the next steps.
 Course descriptions are taken from http://bulletin.temple.edu/undergraduate/tourism-hospitality-management/sport-recreation-management-bs/#academicplantext