Sports Management Career Guide

There are more careers in the sports industry than just MVP; in fact, behind each major league team is a whole team of business professionals working to support the players on the field. Sports management is a growing field that offers a broad range of positions for degree seekers who want to be part of the billion dollar industry.

What is Sports Management?

Sports management is the business end of sports, from local community leagues up to professional sports leagues. While it’s easy to spot your favorite team on the field, there’s a whole network of professionals working behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly.  That’s where a degree in sports management comes in; everyone from the general manager to the scouting staff to the operations staff all are involved in supporting a team’s success.

What Jobs Can You get with a Degree in Sports Management?

Whether you plan to work in your local community or in the big leagues, there are sports management careers that suit your interests. You can leverage your business interests to work in any concentration you choose. In fact, there are account managers, sales representatives, marketing and communications professionals, and even event planners working together to support the team. Jobs in sports management are thriving! In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a positive outlook for jobs with a sports management degree. Below are some sports management career options:

General Manager: General Managers are the people you often see interviewed after a sporting event. They’re responsible for hiring coaches and players, contract negotiations, and budgeting.  According to the BLS, general and operations managers earn a mean annual wage of $122,090.

Agent: The BLS points out that the mean annual wage of an agent or manager of athletes or performers is $89,590. Agents negotiate players’contracts and handle other business opportunities. As an agent, you could work for more than one player in any number of states, so you’ll likely spend a lot of time traveling to meet with your clients and the representatives from the leagues they play in.

Account Manager: Account managers work to generate sponsorships for their leagues. In this role, you’ll work to identify new clients, give sales presentations, and work with clients who wish to advertise in stadiums. Sales managers earn a median annual salary of $117,960, according to the BLS.

Marketing Professional: Sports marketing professionals promote the team— or league— in the community. This is done through public relations, hosting community events and appearances, and advertising campaigns. The BLS notes that marketing specialists earn a mean annual wage of $70,620.

Event Planner: If you’ve ever been to 80s night at the ballpark, or any other theme night, you’ve seen the work of a sporting event planner. These are the folks behind many of the promotional giveaways at stadiums around the country, and who often coordinate the appearances of current and former players at community events. According to the BLS, the mean annual wage of event planners is $52,020.

Scouts: Scouts are the employees responsible for finding talent for a team. Often, they follow players from their early years through high school and college, and report back to the team’s management about any possible leads. Because sporting events usually take place at night or on the weekends, scouts should expect to work irregular hours and to travel often. Scouts earn a median salary of $31,460 per year, according to the BLS.

Athletic Director: You might associate this role with high school and college sports. The athletic director is responsible for overseeing all aspects of an athletic program, including the budgeting, hiring of coaches, facility management and contact with the league the program is associated with. According to the BLS, athletic directors earn a median salary of $58,159.

Check out the chart below that shows some common sports management careers and salaries:

sports management careers

How Much Do Sports Management Professionals Make?

As you may have noticed, sports management degree salaries can range as widely as the available careers in sports management! Salaries in the field of sports management can also vary based on geographic region.

If you work in Dallas, TX, for example, you can expect to earn more than a sports management professional working in Atlanta. According to the BLS, sports management professionals working in the Washington D.C./ Northern Virginia area earn the highest salary in the nation, at $101,320, followed by professionals in the New York/ New Jersey area who earn $97,750, and professionals in the Los Angeles area who earn $91,880 per year.

Salaries might also differ based on the league or sport your work for. Cities with robust college and professional sports teams likely have higher-paid sports management professionals.

Sports Management Degree Options

Whether you plan to work in sport marketing or facility management, most sports management jobs require a good understanding of how businesses operate. Most bachelor’s degree programs, including Gwynedd Mercy University’s Bachelor of Science (BS) Degree in Sports Management, include classes in business, marketing, economics, finance and law.

While a solid foundation in business will be helpful for most careers in sports management, you could also focus on whatever area you’re most interested in pursuing. For example, if a career as a sports marketer is what you aspire to, you should take public relations and communications courses as well. If you prefer to serve as an athletic director, you might consider taking physical education classes to complement your business curriculum.