As a child, did you dream of wearing the Yankee pinstripes, winning a 5-set tiebreaker at the U.S. Open finals or holding up the Lombardi Trophy? You may not be a world-class athlete today, but your dream can still thrive in the sports administration and management industry.
With the right education and experience, you can represent a Major League shortstop in contract negotiations, train an 11-year old tennis prodigy or develop the next generation of concussion-reducing football helmets. In a shorter time frame, you can manage your city’s recreational program, plan a professional golf tournament or work as a media liaison in the PR department of a professional sports franchise.
Exciting and lucrative career opportunities abound in sports administration. An educational foundation in the business, marketing, legal and analytics aspects of the industry can pave the way for entry. A Master of Science in Sports Administration degree program provides this foundation.
Industry Size and Scope
In 2015, the North American professional sports market was a $64 billion dollar industry, according to Statista. By 2019, Forbes projects that figure will reach a staggering $73.5 billion. Yet that figure represents just the tip of the iceberg.
The estimated size of the entire sports and recreation industry in the U.S. was $498.4 billion dollars in 2015, according to Plunkett Research. By contrast — as much as we all love our cats and dogs — the entire U.S. pet industry is just one-eighth the size. North America may well be the epicenter of global sports; no wonder MLB, NFL, NHL and NBA playoff victors are crowned “World Champions.”
A representative sampling of jobs available in the sports industry:
|Professional Sports Leagues||College Sports||Sporting & Player Associations||Sports Agency & Management|
|General Manager||Athletic Director||Owner Representative||Marketing Director|
|Manager||Manager||Player Representative||Information Director|
|Executive||Facilities Coordinator||Lawyer||PR Spokesperson|
|Sales Representative||Sales Representative||Ethics Specialist||Publicist|
|Analytics Sprecialist||Analytics Specialist||Compliance Specialist||Analyst|
|PR Spokesperson||PR Spokesperson||Advisor/Consultant||Executive|
|Director, Corporate Partnerships||Marketing Manager||PR Spokesperson||Sales Representative|
|Sporting Equipment & Supplies||Media, PR & Advertising||State & Local Sports Programs||Leisure Sports & Resorts|
|Business Proprietor||Sports Reporter||Event Planner||Event Planner|
|Executive||Broadcaster||Athletic Director||Golf/Tennis Club Manager|
|Sales Representative||Producer||Fitness Director||Athletic Director|
|Research and Development||Director||Athletic Trainer||Hotel Facilities Manager|
|Marketing Manager||Publicist||Recreation Center Manager||Hotel Fitness Director|
|PR Manager||PR Director||Recreation Program Manager||Athletic Trainer|
|Legal Advisort||Information Director||Park Manager||Tournament Director|
|Product Designer||Sponsorship Director||Program Manager||Director, Business Development|
Education Is the Gateway
As these industry segments grow larger and more complex, their enterprises are moving toward data-driven business models. Industry professionals need an understanding of data, statistics and advanced analytics to reach positions of authority. Analytics are vital to the evaluation, design and implementation of sports programs across industry segments. Students typically don’t learn these skills at the undergraduate level and many industry workers do not learn them on the job.
Post-graduate programs like Arkansas State University’s Online Master of Science in Sport Administration provide the tools necessary to improve organizational efficiency and maximize profits. Interdisciplinary studies develop leadership capabilities, as well as training in fitness, wellness, business, marketing, sales, law, public relations, research, ethics, budgeting and analytics — all in the context of sports.
The Arkansas State M.S. in Sport Administration program combines instruction from experienced industry professionals with valuable networking and internship opportunities. It provides the framework to develop the skills you need for your desired career path, whether you aspire to work for a college athletic department, a country club, or in sports media and PR.
Few industries offer such a wide range of salaries, with as many lucrative opportunities for the best and brightest in the game. Six-figure incomes are common not only at the major and minor leagues in professional sports but also in sports media, leisure sports and even at the higher levels of government-run regional recreational programs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015, the median salary for postsecondary education administrators (the category that includes many sports administrators and athletic directors) was $88,580 annually. For graduates who reach the management level in their sports administration careers, the BLS reports that in 2015, the median salary for all management occupations (including sports managers) was $98,560 annually.
Here is a sampling of average salaries for specific sports administration and management positions across industry segments, based on national and regional salary data:
Salaries by Job
|PR/Fundraising (Sports Development)||National||$86,110|
|Director of Sales & Marketing||National||$78,250|
|Senior Marketing Manager||National||$75,500|
|PR Manager (Includes Sports)||National||$60,784|
|National information from PayScale and the Bureau of Labor Statistics|
|Job||Location||Avg. Salary||With Experience|
|Athletic Trainer||Little Rock||$62,899||$73,998|
|Golf Course Manager||Little Rock||$66,097||$77,761|
|Golf Course Manager||New Jersey||$76,052||$89,473|
|Park Manager||Little Rock||$41,557||$48,914|
|Sports PR||Little Rock||$34,115||$40,135|
|Regional information from SalaryGenius|
Job Growth and Career Outlook
From 2010 to 2014, job growth across all sports-related industries grew at 12.6 percent — doubling the growth in the national job market, according to a recent Forbes article. The piece profiled 20 industry positions with strong projected growth, including business-focused positions, promoters, agents, event planners and recreation attendants.
Looking forward, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of postsecondary education administrators (including sports administration) to grow 9 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS projects 21 percent growth over the same time span for athletic trainers.
Not many industries can fill stadiums and arenas in every state across the country on a daily basis. This fact alone is testament to America’s passion for spectator sports. Combine that with widespread participation in health and fitness activities, and you have a diverse, burgeoning industry in need of a growing array of talents. Some of them may be yours.
Learn more about the A-State online MS in Sport Administration program.