What Can You Do with a Sports Management Degree? [2024 Guide]

By Joy Cromwelle
Edited by Briana Sukert
Updated on April 13, 2024
Edited by Briana Sukert
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What can you do with a sports management degree?

What Can You Do With a Sports Management Degree

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This degree can help equip you to play a vital role behind the scenes at fields, courts, rings, and arenas around the world!

What Can You Do With a Sports Management Degree?

sports coach talking to his player

Some people who graduate with a degree in sports management jump directly into a business position in the sports industry. Careers can be enjoyed in everything from professional to community leagues. You may also find many opportunities to work in athletic departments at colleges and universities.

A bachelor’s degree in sports management can also serve as a stepping stone to an advanced degree. Both a master of business administration (MBA) and master of science in sports management can be great options for someone interested in climbing the ranks.

Careers With Sports Management Degree

general manager of a soccer team talking to his player

Many different facets of the sports world open up to graduates who study sports management. This degree can help you pursue careers that place you in one-on-one contact with players on a daily basis or behind the scenes in a support role.

For many, the pinnacle of a career in sports management is a job as a general manager for a team. A general manager the “face” of the team they represent. In addition, managers also oversee hiring, budgeting, and contract negotiations.

There’s also an entire army of coordinators, lawyers, agents, event planners, scouts, athletic directors, marketers, partnership managers, and finance experts working behind the scenes to make sure everything is in place for fans on game day!

There’s also a possibility to use a traditional or online sports management degree for a more people-focused career path in the sports industry. This degree can help you to pivot into a specialty as a fitness expert or physician’s liaison.

What Jobs Can You Get with a Sports Management Degree?

associate marketing manager sharing his ideas during a meeting

Nobody goes straight from the classroom to behind the desk of a team manager. This is an industry where you have to pay your dues a bit before you can get the good seats! Luckily, there are many entry-level positions for graduates with regular or accelerated sports management degrees that are extremely satisfying and interesting.

The type of entry-level role you land will depend on your specialty within the field. For instance, someone who is interested in sports finance may be able to land a role as a junior accountant within a league.

Most entry-level jobs in the sports world are going to have “assistant” or “associate” titles attached to them. Junior sales associate, associate marketing manager, and marketing assistant are titles you’ll likely see in your job search. Tasks can range from selling tickets to fostering marketing partnerships.

How Much Money Can You Make With a Sports Management Degree?

Sports Management Degree Careers

What does it pay to have some of the most interesting jobs imaginable? Those with bachelor degrees in sports management are often paid generously due to the highly specialized nature of this field.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some career opportunities in the sports management field include:

Careers Annual Median Salary
Sports Manager $94,300
Business Operations Specialist $77,420
Athletic Director $75,810
Business Manager for Athletes $75,420
Public Relations Specialist $62,810
Athletic Trainer $49,860
Financial Clerk $44,160
Coach or Scout $36,330

The average salary for sports agents and business managers is $75,420. Agents often have particularly exciting careers because they spend time traveling and meeting with clients. Don’t forget that things like bonuses and commissions often apply in many roles when you’re employed by teams or sports leagues.

Graduate School – What Can I Do With a Sports Management Degree?

Sports Management Degree students attending a class in university

You have some good options if you’re considering graduate school after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in sports management. The two main options to consider are a master in business administration (MBA) and master of sports management.

An MBA may be a natural fit for someone pursuing a career in sports management because all of the same principles that apply to running a business apply to running a team, league, or sports venue. The strategic and financial concepts introduced in an MBA program are extremely relevant for anyone looking to rise in the ranks of the sports business.

A master of science in sports management can help you learn how to examine and understand the sports industry from an operational standpoint. Yes, there may be overlap with what you’d learn in an MBA program. In addition, you should learn about the specific management, financial, and legal principles that are unique to the sports industry.

Certifications in Sports Management

Personal Fitness trainer giving instructions during a class

Certifications can play important roles in helping you to get into some of the niche positions that exist within the sports world. These are not roles that any person can simply stumble into by luck. You’ll need the background and certification required to land some of the crucial job roles within leagues and organizations.

Here’s a look at certification options:

Certifications and memberships can be important for those working in the sports industry because standards are constantly changing. This is especially true if your work includes any aspects of sports training and medicine. Yes, working with athletes means making a lifelong commitment to learning and implementing the best practices.

Accreditation for a Sports Management Degree

Accreditation for a Sports Management Degree

A sports management degree is no different than any other degree when it comes to the matter of accreditation. You’ll want to consider your options for schools that feature regional accreditation when applying to programs.

What’s the big benefit for regional accreditation for sports management degrees? Regional accreditation is something that signals to future employers that you’ve completed a program that has passed a strict evaluation by one of the nation’s seven accrediting bodies.

Regional accreditation can also be a bonus if you end up transferring programs because credits from regionally accredited schools tend to transfer more easily. In addition, regional accreditation could help you when you apply to graduate programs down the road.

The extra detail you’ll need to consider when researching sports management programs is accreditation from the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA). COSMA accreditation focuses specifically on promoting and recognizing excellence in sports education.

This is a worldwide program that evaluates bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs. A college or university with COSMA accreditation has met the requirements of a strict external verification process.

Financial Aid for a Degree in Sports Management Online

Financial Aid for a Degree in Sports Management Online

It’s going to be important to come up with a game plan for financing your sports management degree. Like all undergraduate programs, sports management is eligible for a variety of federal loans, private loans, scholarships, and work-study programs.

Several organizations offer scholarship opportunities for students pursuing degrees related to the sports industry.

Well-known scholarship opportunities like the Athnet Sports Recruiting Scholarship, the David J. Stern Sports Scholarship Fund, the Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Foundation, and the Stadium Managers Association Scholarship represent just a small sliver of what’s available for ambitious students.

Questions Related to Earning a Sports Management Degree

sports manager working in the office

It’s only natural to have questions about what a career can really look like in such a fast-paced, vast industry like the sports world. Let’s talk about some of the roles that are pivotal for making sure the game goes on!

What Jobs Can You Do With Sports Management Degree?

This is an industry that leaves room for everything from a “desk job” to a role right beside the field. Many roles can place you in direct contact with players as a business or medical liaison.

Most sports organizations need roles filled in accounting, marketing, and finance departments. That means that there’s plenty of room for you even if you don’t specifically want to play a role in the “game” part of the sports industry. Those who specialize in sports finance or law can hold extremely influential roles behind the scenes.

Additionally, there’s plenty of opportunity for those who want to be in the center of the action. Agents, managers, and trainers work with athletes daily.

What Jobs Are the Highest Paid in Sports Management?

sports manager playing soccer with his team

Yes, it’s true that salaries can rise into the millions for people with careers in sports management. This often applies to coaches, managers, and team owners involved with high-profile teams. General managers in leagues like the NFL often command $1 million to $3 million per year.

You don’t necessarily need to be the “face” of a team or league to be paid well. Professionals who provide financial and legal support in the sports world often command very competitive salaries.

What Are Some Careers in Sports Management?

marketing managers discussing ideas while walking

Choosing your career in sports management really comes down to tapping into your own personal passion. For instance, you may find that a gift for communication makes you a great fit as a sales representative or marketing manager for a sports entity.

There’s also the possibility of becoming a professional coach if you have a skill for strategizing in a particular sport. In fact, a background in a sport can often give you an advantage when you pursue a sports management degree.

There’s plenty of room to craft your unique career path as you go. For instance, you may begin your career in a support role coordinating events for a team. The experience and contacts earned in this role could help you move all the way up the ladder until you’re the one calling the shots as a team manager.

Is Sport Management a Good Degree?

sports manager talking to an athlete

Yes, sports management is a good degree for many students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, entertainment and sports jobs are projected to grow 7% for the next ten years, while management jobs will be at 5%. Common careers in these fields include athletic trainer, publicist, business manager for athletes, athletic director, and sports manager.

Sports management can be a fantastic degree path for anyone who is interested in the business side of the sports world.

An enormous amount of work goes into managing the teams, leagues, and events people around the world enjoy in person and on television. However, few ever stop to meditate on the countless hours that go into keeping things running outside of the game experience.

One of the big benefits of a sports management degree is that you’ll have the potential to work nearly anywhere. Both national and international teams rely on professionals to handle the business side of things.

This is a degree path that can help to ensure you’re never going to complain about being stuck in a “boring” field. People who pursue this degree get the balance of working in a field that is both exciting and stable.

Getting on a winning team starts with applying to a school with a respected sports management program!

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