Great Careers in Athletics

Love spending your days outdoors? On the field? Never missing a game? Whatever it is, your passion for athletics can turn into a fulfilling career!

It’s never too early or too late to put your passions into practice. Every game you play—every day you spend sharpening your skills or knowledge—could be getting you closer to your dream job. Even if you don’t know what that job is yet.

So, let’s explore some athletic careers that cover all kinds of talents and abilities. Bottom line, you don’t have to be a star athlete to get a job in athletics.

Referee/Umpire

Watch the game—from the center of the action. And make the calls that keep the game fair.

Referees and umpires:
  • Have deep knowledge of game rules and policies
  • Make the calls and enforce penalties
  • Keep the game safe and track time
  • Help determine a winner
What you’ll need:
  • No diploma to a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Possible sport-specific training
  • A love for the game and a vast knowledge of it
  • Some experience—try volunteering at local leagues
Some details:
  • Could make $18,000 to $300,000 (a year)
  • Enjoy the perks—you know those major leaguers live that fancy hotel, first-class life
  • Great skills to have: communication, good vision, physical strength, and a passion for teamwork

What else could you do? Be a coach or scout.

Fitness Trainer

Share your love for athletics by leading, instructing, and motivating others to get up and move.

Fitness trainers:
  • Explain exercises and teach people correct form
  • Customize workouts
  • Keep athletic activities safe for everyone
  • Help others to live healthy lifestyles
What you’ll need:
  • Anything from a high school diploma to a bachelor’s degree
  • Certifications may be (but aren’t always) required
  • Some experience—you’ll learn from experienced trainers
Some details:
  • Could make $19,000 to $74,000 (a year)
  • Work in health clubs, yoga or Pilates studios, or fitness centers
  • Great skills to have: communication, listening, physical fitness, a passion for motivating others

What else could you do? Be a physical therapist assistants or aide.

U.S. Armed Forces

You can be a hero. Fulfill your passion and devote yourself to protecting freedoms, maintaining peace, providing relief and supporting policy around the globe.

Where you can serve

  • Air Force
  • Army
  • Coast Guard
  • Marine Corps
  • Navy
  • Reserve components of these branches
  • Air National Guard
  • Army National Guard
U.S. Armed Forces:

The military distinguishes between enlisted and officer careers.

Enlisted personnel:

  • Participate in, or support, military operations, like combat or training operations, or humanitarian or disaster relief
  • Operate, maintain, and repair equipment
  • Perform technical and support activities
  • Executes or coordinates plans
  • Supervise junior enlisted personnel

Officers:

  • Develop plans and execute orders for military operations
  • Organize and lead troops
  • Manage enlisted personnel
  • Operate and command aircraft, ships, or armored vehicles
  • Provide medical, legal, engineering, and other services to military personnel
What you’ll need:
  • A high school diploma or equivalent
  • Be a minimum of 17 years of age
  • S. citizenship, permanent resident status, and properly documented non-citizens may enlist
  • Non-citizens looking to become U.S. citizens may be eligible to apply for naturalization under special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)
  • Never convicted of a felony and able to pass a medical exam and drug test
Some details:
  • Could make $1,600 to $16,000 (a month)
  • Benefits include: support programs like financial guidance and affordable housing, tuition support, free travel on military aircraft, and free stay on bases located around the world
  • You could be a nurse, doctor, or lawyer for the military
  • Great skills to have: leadership, mental preparedness, physical fitness, and a love for serving and protecting others and our country

Sportswriter

Keep fans, like you, up-to-date on games, players, and coaches with facts—creatively delivered.

Sportswriters:
  • Write about games and why teams succeed or fail
  • Cover current team and industry news
  • Talk about team and sports trends
  • Witness top competition—always with a prime seat!
What you’ll need:
  • Anything from a high school diploma to bachelor’s degree
  • Some experience—try writing for school papers or online
Some details:
  • Could make $18,000 to $75,000 (a year)
  • Possibly travel and appear on radio, TV, or streaming video coverage
  • Great skills to have: flexibility, creativity, critical-thinking, and a passion for writing

What else could you do? Be a sports broadcaster or photographer.

Sporting Event Coordinator

Ever been to a cool sporting event? You could be responsible for all that fun! By planning every event detail from when to where and how.

Sporting event coordinators:
  • Meet with tons of people to plan events
  • Inspect venues and everything else
  • Coordinate event services—like rooms, rides, and food
  • Monitor event activities, a.k.a. attend the party and make sure everyone is having fun
What you’ll need:
  • A bachelor’s degree
  • Probably some experience
Some details:
  • Could make $26,000 to $82,000 (a year)
  • Travel regularly and keep life interesting in a fast-paced environment
  • Great skills to have: communication, problem-solving, organizational, and a passion for working with others

What else could you do? Be a stadium or equipment manager.

Recreation Worker

Help kids, families, and other groups make memories by planning and leading the fun for recreation centers.

Recreation workers:
  • Help people stay active, improve fitness, and have fun
  • Keep it safe by enforcing rules
  • Customize events for group and families
  • Administer basic first aid if needed
What you’ll need:
  • Anything from a high school diploma (or equivalent) to a bachelor’s degree
  • Some on-the-job training
  • Possibly a state-required certification
Some details:
  • Could make $18,000 to $42,000 (a year)
  • Spend your days at summer camps, recreational centers, or nature parks
  • Great skills to have: communication, problem-solving, physical strength, and a passion for leading others

What else could you do? Be an event planner or athletic trainer.

Scout

Think you’ve got an eye for talent? Find new players by gaging their possibility for stardom at the college, amateur, or pro level.

Scouts:
  • Search the news to find new athletes
  • Attend games and review tapes of athletes’ performances
  • Study statistics to determine talent and potential
  • Decide if an athlete has what it takes
What you’ll need:
  • A bachelor’s degree
  • An extensive knowledge of the sport
  • A passion for sports and an ability to spot athletic skill
Some details:
  • Could make $18,000 to $75,000 (a year)
  • Travel regularly and make a job out of never missing a game
  • Great skills to have: communication, dedication, resourcefulness, and a passion for leadership and decision-making

What else could you do? Be an athletic trainer or sports competitor.

Physical Therapist

Imagine helping someone learn to walk again. Be a part of the healing process—using hands-on therapy to improve people’s movement and manage their pain.

Physical therapists:
  • Diagnose patients’ functions and movements
  • Develop custom care plans
  • Help patients increase mobility and prevent injury
  • Educate patients on the recovery process and challenges
What you’ll need:
  • A Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree (bachelor’s degree required to get your DPT)
  • A state-required license
Some details:
  • Could make $59,000 to $122,000 (a year)
  • Work in private offices and clinics, hospitals, patients’ homes, and nursing homes
  • Great skills to have: compassion, physical stamina, social, and a passion for helping others

What else could you do? Be an exercise physiologist or athletic trainer.

With so many careers in athletics out there, why not follow your passion? You can love what you do!