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Arkansas State University

The Job Outlook for Sports Administration

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 online program provides this foundation.


In 2020, the North American professional sports market was a $75 billion dollar industry, according to Statista. By 2021, the global sports market is expected to reach a staggering $440.77 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 $539.7 billion dollars in 2018, according to Plunkett Research. By contrast — as much as we all love our cats and dogs — the entire U.S. pet industry is less than 20% of 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
Coach Coach Management Representative Agent
General Manager Athletic Director Owner Representative Marketing Director
Manager Manager Player Representative Information Director
Trainer Trainer Negotiator Business Manager
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


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 A-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 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2020, the median salary for postsecondary education administrators (the category that includes many sports administrators and athletic directors) was $97,500 annually. For graduates who reach the management level in their sports administration careers, the BLS reports that in 2020, the median salary for all management occupations (including sports managers) was $102,070 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:

Job Location Salary
Sports Agent National $102,070
PR/Fundraising (Sports Development) National $118,430
Director of Sales & Marketing National $119,000
Senior Marketing Manager National $117,000
Marketing Director National $122,000
PR Manager (Includes Sports) National $70,635
Athletic Director National $60,948
Fitness Director National $46,994
National information from PayScale and the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Location Avg. Salary With Experience
Athletic Trainer Little Rock $46,310 $51,066
Athletic Trainer Chicago $53,090 $58,541
Golf Course Manager Little Rock $66,823 $80,473
Golf Course Manager New Jersey $76,605 $92,253
Park Manager Little Rock $36,622 $66,193
Park Manager Boulder $41,802 $75,555
Sports PR Little Rock $46,211 $80,042
Sports PR Boston $54,440 $94,525
Regional information from and ZipRecruiter as of June 2021


Prior to COVID-19, between 2018 and 2019, job growth across all sports-related industries grew more than 1.3% annually, according to recent statistics. The piece profiled 20 industry positions with strong projected growth, including business-focused positions, promoters, agents, event planners and recreation attendants.

Looking forward, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of postsecondary education administrators (including sports administration) to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029. The BLS projects 16% 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 M.S. in Sport Administration program.


Data USA: Spectator Sports

Globe News Wire: Research and Markets: Global Sports Market Report

Plunkett Research: Sports Industry Statistic & Market Size Overview

PayScale: Master of Science (MS), Sports Administration Degree Average Salary

Statista: North America sports market size from 2009 to 2023

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes

Postsecondary Education Administrators

American Pet Products Association: Pet Industry Market Size, Trends & Ownership Statistics


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