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A high school athletic director organizes a school’s athletic programs. Athletic directors make schedules for each sports team and work on funding for the various programs. They hire and fire coaches, and make sure all programs are operating within their state’s guidelines for athletic teams. They also must make certain that all programs stay within a budget allotted for sports.
High school athletic directors not only must aim to field the best teams in every sport, but to ensure that the athletes and coaches are displaying sportsmanship and representing their school and community well. They must be well-versed in all sports, from football to basketball to wrestling to swimming to golf and baseball. They also need to dedicate an equal amount of their workload to both boys and girls sports, and focus not just on varsity teams, but on junior varsity and freshmen teams, as well. On top of balancing schedules, they also set up travel arrangements for teams to get to away games.
High school athletic directors must have a passion for sports and education, and an understanding of how young athletes should best be developed. They need to be extremely organized to put together schedules, making sure there are no conflicts between programs that use the various athletic facilities (such as football and soccer fields, or gymnasiums). Athletic directors should be energetic, driven, and capable of overcoming obstacles, and possess strong leadership skills. They also must ably communicate the needs and expectations of each program to coaches.
The majority of high school administrators, such as athletic directors, need a bachelor’s degree along with a teaching certificate. Depending on the size of the school, athletic directors may need to teach in classrooms, and therefore may need to specialize in a particular subject, whether it be history, science or math. Most, however, are able to teach a variety of courses with an education degree.
Jobs for high school athletic directors are likely to fluctuate with the rest of the school administration industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of administrators is expected to increase by eight percent through 2018. Much of that growth, the BLS reported, will be because of the “number of expected retirements,” as well as “fewer applicants for some positions.”
High school coaches earned anywhere from $28,000 to more than $49,000 per year in May 2010, according to PayScale.com. Athletic directors are likely to earn salaries in line with those, and perhaps slightly higher. Also, the BLS reported that high school assistant principals earned a median annual salary of more than $79,000 in May 2008. So much of an athletic director’s salary is largely based on years on the job, overall duties and the size of the school.
Sam Amico is a reporter for NBA.com and worked as a writer and editor at daily newspapers for more than a decade, covering everything from rock concerts to college football to courts and crime. He attended Kent State University and is the author of the book, "A Basketball Summer." He also is the co-host of a nationally-syndicated television show, "The Wine & Gold Zone."
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