You don’t have to be an elite athlete to find a fulfilling sports-related career. Many college and professional teams employ more people to make game day happen than they do to put points on the scoreboard. Even with the allure of the top-notch talent in uniform, high-profile teams rely on a variety of skill sets that don't require athletic talent.
Health and Nutrition
Training and high-level competition put a great deal of wear and tear on elite athletes. Team physicians, sports nutritionists and athletic trainers play key roles in treating injuries, planning meals and developing fitness programs for Olympic, college and pro athletes. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the small, highly competitive sports medicine job market is expanding quickly with growth of 30 percent projected from 2010 through 2020. The BLS projects 20 percent job growth in that span for the nutritionist and dietitian professions.
Media and Communications
Big sports enterprises put a great deal of emphasis on promoting their teams and events. These efforts call for specialists in communications and marketing, including press officers, who prepare team information for the public, and advertising staff, who create the multimedia material necessary for promoting games and other team events to the fan base. The BLS reports numbers of these jobs growing by 14 percent between 2010 and 2020.
Operations and Management
Game-day operations call for the majority of sports-related business staff. From business administration and food service to ticket sales and security, teams need a wide variety of support staff. These operations and support staff members manage team business, sell tickets and concessions to fans and keep team facilities safe. Because professional athlete salaries account for so much of a team’s budget, the revenue-generating support roles, selling concessions, tickets and team merchandise for profits, are very important sources of revenue for the financial health of sports organizations.
Every team needs coaches to focus the athletes’ talent into a cohesive team strategy. Among their duties, coaches are responsible for conducting practice sessions, working with individual athletes and the team as a whole to master techniques and strategy, planning and implementing their physical conditioning programs, and calling plays and directing the team during games. The BLS reports projects job growth of 29 percent for coaching jobs from 2010 to 2020.
Referees and Other Officials
Organized sports call for referees, timers and scoreboard operators. While umpires enforce the rules of play, timers run the game clock and manage the scoreboard, while other game officials tally statistics. The BLS projects job growth of 20 percent for referees and sports officials from 2010 to 2020.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Athletic Trainers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Coaches and Scouts
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Umpires, Referees and other Sports Officials
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Dieticians and Nutritionists
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: If You Like Sports, Then Look at These Possible Careers
- Sports Career Finder: Sports Industry Jobs FAQ
- Go Ducks.com: Career Paths: James Harris, NCAA Football Sports Nutritionist
- Sports Careers: Why Work in Sports Broadcasting
- American Football Coaches Association: Job Board
- International Society of Sports Nutrition: Home
Chuck Dye is a professional copywriter and award-winning journalist. His experience includes reporting and copy editing, earning awards from the Football Writers Association of America and Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. Dye holds a master's degree in communications and a bachelor's degree in journalism, both from the University of Oregon.