A career in sports management can lead to a job with professional sports teams or post-secondary institutions, as well as amateur sports organizations, events management companies, players' associations, sports media companies, sporting goods companies or civic arenas. Like the spectrum of potential employment avenues, the salary range for individuals employed in this field is broad.
Salaries for Management Roles
May 2013 data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed an annual mean wage of $116,380 for all management positions in the area of spectator sports. The highest paid role was chief executive, with an annual mean wage of $201,820. Earnings were $128,020 for financial managers, $117,070 for marketing managers and $109, 870 for general and operations managers. Annual mean wages for other management occupations included $100,550 for public relations and fundraising managers, $87,230 for administrative services managers and $71,070 for agents and business managers.
Salaries for Non-Management Roles
The term "sports management" does not refer only to those in traditional management positions. It includes lawyers, marketers, event promoters, athletic administrators and those in game operations and sales. BLS annual mean wage data for such positions as of 2013 includes $147,830 for lawyers, $56,470 for business operations specialists, $51,270 for public relations specialists, $43,800 for fundraisers and $38,110 for event planners.
Sports management studies may be offered as part of a business program or a kinesiology program. Regardless which route is followed, including business-related courses such as marketing may be helpful, particularly for future management roles. Some programs prepare students to specialize in a field such as sports communications or golf administration. Depending on the role, a graduate degree may be of value. SportsBusiness Journal researcher and writer Glenn Wong reported in June 2014 that 80 percent of Division I athletic directors had graduate degrees, the most common being sports administration and education. Wong also found that among the major professional sports franchises in the United States the National Football League had the highest percentage of general managers with advanced degrees, at 44 percent, while National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball franchises each averaged 27 percent.
Factors such as growth in the number of sport-specific venues, increasing media coverage of sports, greater interest in adventure travel and emergence of newer sports -- such as skateboarding and snow kayaking -- suggest that the sports management field will continue to offer employment opportunities. However, there is a high degree of competition for available jobs. Taking advantage of internship and networking opportunities will enhance a candidate's attractiveness to employers. Students can access internship opportunities and placements through sports management programs or through events such as the Sports Industry Networking and Career Conference.