Sports Management Education and Career Guide

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Your Guide to a Career in Sports Management

businessman talking on cell phone outside sports facility

What Is Sports Management?

Sports management is a career that blends business and sports together. You'll find jobs such as sports agents, sports marketing managers, and athletic directors under the umbrella of sports management.

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Professionals in this field take on important tasks such as creating marketing campaigns, handling media relations, controlling operations for a sports facility, and finding new athletic talent.

Popular Sports Management Jobs

There are many exciting job titles within the world of sports management. The right role for you depends on your skills and on your specific goals and passions. For instance, if you're dedicated to helping athletes find success on the field, you might be right for a coaching role. If you're more of a behind-the-scenes sports person, you might want to work as a sports facilities manager or as a sports marketing manager. 

"I typically hear people refer to sport management professionals as coaches, training staff, or general managers," says Maggie Vlasaty, a social media engagement specialist at Uncommon Sports Group. "While this is true, sports management has many other branches of business, and all of those branches are specialized in a very unique way to sports. This may surprise those who are unfamiliar with the sports industry."

You'll find sports management roles at a variety of levels and for organizations of all sizes. From professional-level sports teams to local youth little leagues, sports management professionals are needed to coach, organize, market, and handle operations. Their hard work is a key to ensuring that athletes can play and fans can enjoy the game.

You'll find sports management roles at a variety of levels and for organizations of all sizes.

Sports Management Degrees

Many sports management positions require at least a bachelor's degree. However, it's not your only degree option. You can jump into your career quickly by earning an associate degree and taking on an entry-level position, or you can set your sites on an advanced degree.

How Much Can I Earn?

Sports management encompasses several different careers. Your exact salary in sports management will depend on the job title you take on. As a general rule, salaries are higher in administrative roles such as sports marketing than the average salaries for athlete-facing roles such as sports coach. However, factors like your education, experience, certification, and your specific employer will make a big difference across all sports management job titles.

Overall, sports management professionals can be considered well-compensated for their hard work and expertise. Plus, the field of sports management offers room to grow and advance. You might start your career with an entry-level role and be able to advance to a high-earning position once you have a few years of experience.

Important Skills and Traits

You'll need sharp business skills and top-notch communication skills in the world of sports management. This fast-moving career will keep you thinking on your feet and working hard.

"You need tenacity, passion, and self-awareness," says Vlasaty. In addition, she says, sports management professionals need to be able to stay committed to their jobs even after a loss or during a disappointing season. "The ability to keep inputting effort regardless of your team's or player's performance is (important). Attachment to your organization is real, and I think having the awareness to detach when necessary and put your mind to the work ahead is somewhat essential."

Other traits you'll need for sports management success include:

  • Business acumen: You'll need to keep your eye on the bottom line when you work in sports management. Whether you're designing a marketing campaign to attract fans or scouting top athletic talent, there are always budgets and financial goals to keep in mind.
  • Communication skills: Sports management is all about people, and that means you'll need excellent communication skills. You can't coach a team or handle media relations unless you can talk to people. It's essential in the world of sports management to get your ideas across to coworkers, clients, and customers.
  • Passion for the game: Rookies in sports management often start at the bottom, working their way up from internships or ticketing positions. A true love of sports, fitness, and recreation is key to long-term success.
  • Entrepreneurism: In this fast-moving field, innovation and an eye for new opportunities are crucial. The best sports managers are always looking for ways to improve their game and set new personal bests.
  • Collaboration skills: Sports management takes teamwork. You'll often be working with several other sports management professionals during the course of your day. 
  • Customer focus: The fan experience can make or break a sports facility or season's marking campaign. That's why savvy sports managers focus relentlessly on delivering the best possible customer experience.


Networking and staying on top of new developments are crucial to a successful sports management career. One of the best ways to connect and keep current is to look into professional associations for sports managers. Such associations provide resources such as news about upcoming conferences, industry changes, networking events, job boards, and more to their members.

A few popular associations for sports managers include:

National Sports Marketing Network (NSMN): NSMN has chapters around the country and offers conferences, career services, and discounts to members.

World Association for Sports Management (WASM): This large international association has a focus on education and offers online events, conferences, and book series to sports management professionals.

North American Society for Sports Management (NASM): NASM offers sports management professionals the chance to attend conferences, win grants and scholarships, network with professionals, and more.

Sports Events and Tourism Association (Sports ETA): Sports ETA is focused on sporting facilities, sporting events, and tourism and offers educational resources and information about networking, advocacy, and industry summits.

stephanie behring

Written and reported by:

Stephanie Behring

Contributing Writer

maggie vlasaty

With professional insights from:

Maggie Vlasaty

Social Media Engagement Specialist, Uncommon Sports Group

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