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Are you interested in starting a sports career? Earning a sports management degree is a smart first step.
A sports management degree equips students with an arsenal of multidisciplinary skills. This degree includes courses in finance, management, marketing, communications and business, all through the lens of professional sport and leisure. These skills can be applied to a variety of sports management careers.
Additionally, some of the highest-paying jobs in this field go to people with sports management degrees. Here’s everything you need to know about completing a sports management degree.
What is a sports management degree?
A sports management degree prepares students for careers in various areas of sports management. Several colleges and universities offer sports management degrees. Depending on your area of interest, you can opt for a four-year bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree or a doctorate.
Admission requirements for sports management
What does it take to apply for a sports management degree? That depends on what degree you’re aiming for. Undergraduate programs typically have fewer admissions requirements than graduate programs. Conversely, graduate programs generally have higher admissions standards and more stringent requirements.
If you are a first-time student, apply for a bachelor’s degree in sports management. You can enroll in a four-year college or university for your bachelor’s degree, or start at a two-year community college before moving to a four-year program.
Admission requirements vary by school. If necessary, contact each school’s admissions department to learn more about GPA minimum grades, required courses, and standardized test scores. Some programs may ask you to submit a personal essay with your application.
For What It’s Worth: A genuine, demonstrated enthusiasm for the sport or other recreational area is helpful. If you have solid coaching or sports experience, don’t forget to indicate this in your application.
Students applying for postgraduate studies in sports management should earn at least a bachelor’s degree. An academic background in sports management or a related field is preferred but not required.
Potential doctoral students must submit official certificates, a CV and test results with their application. Some schools also ask for GMAT or GRE test scores. Most programs also require letters of recommendation.
While not required, be sure to include any voluntary or independent research experience you may have gained in your undergraduate studies.
Courses in a sports management program
When you enroll in a sports management program, you choose your courses. Most programs require students to enroll in a mix of general and certification classes. If you have chosen a focus such as sports law or sports media, you will also take subject-specific courses.
Most sports management programs offer core courses in business principles such as marketing, communication, and finance. Below are some popular courses you can expect to find in a sports management program.
Business communication courses help students improve their communication skills in a business context. Students learn how to conduct one-on-one interviews, speak well on site, and write persuasive business documents. Business communication courses also prepare learners to create meaningful visual presentations and to properly manage correspondence.
Leadership positions require strong communication skills, but these skills are generally good to have regardless of your career path.
principles of marketing
Many sports management positions require a solid understanding of key marketing principles. This course examines how to identify and serve an audience. Students learn to define and explain basic marketing terms and to calculate and analyze marketing metrics. Learners can also expect to cover topics such as branding and product development, campaign development, market research, and social media marketing.
Data plays a crucial role in the world of sport and leisure, both on and off the pitch. Therefore, you can expect to take a sports analytics course as part of your sports management degree. This course teaches the fundamentals of data analysis and how to apply that analysis in a business context. Students also learn to use data and modeling techniques to improve marketing performance.
Sports tourism involves traveling to see or attend a sporting event. A sports tourism course covers the fundamentals of managing and directing sporting events that attract sports tourists. Topics covered in sports tourism classes include event planning and development, site selection, marketing, legalities and history of the industry. Students will also delve into the impact of sport on communities and economic development.
Career in sports management
A sports management degree opens the door to a wide range of career opportunities. Below are some of the career paths that a sports management degree will prepare you for.
Matchday or event coordinator
Average annual salary: $49,470
Projected growth rate (2020-2030): +18%
Job description: Matchday or event coordinators facilitate logistics on the day of the sporting event. This means looking after and managing all parties involved in sporting events, from vendors to athletes to reporters. Matchday coordinators must also be prepared to react to schedule changes, inclement weather and other possible variables.
Average annual salary: $99,290
Projected growth rate (2020-2030): +9%
Job description: Contract administrators create, negotiate, sign and honor sports contracts. In professional sports, these contracts are typically in the millions of dollars.
Average annual salary: $75,410
Projected growth rate (2020-2030): -4%
Job Description: Buyers ensure sports organizations have what they need to function properly on a daily basis. This can include exercise equipment, weight training equipment, and office supplies. These professionals are also responsible for selecting vendors, negotiating contracts, and determining product quality.
Average annual salary: $38,970
Expected growth rate (2020-2030): +26%
Job Description: Coaches teach, mentor and train athletes in both professional and recreational contexts. A coach is responsible for preparing athletes for games, creating drills and team building exercises, developing game strategies, and supporting athletes’ individual and collective improvement.
Average annual salary: $133,380
Projected growth rate (2020-2030): +10%
Job Description: Sports marketers promote sports teams and related organizations such as the Olympic Games or the National Football League. They could also sponsor individual high-profile athletes. In general, sports marketers make sure they tell a story that reflects positively on their respective organizations and promotes sports overall.
Frequently asked questions about sports management
How many years does a sports management degree take?
A bachelor’s degree in sports management typically takes four years to complete. Most master’s programs last two years. PhD Candidates can expect to take at least three to four years to graduate.
What does a person with a sports management degree do?
The sports management degree opens up a wide range of career opportunities for you. Graduates can enter the athletics corporate world as marketers, team managers, journalists, or contract workers. Others find jobs as trainers, facility managers or sports directors.
Can you make good money with a sports management degree?
It depends on the spot. The highest paying sports management jobs include sports marketing directors, sports promoters, facility directors, and sports directors.