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Sports (Athletic) and Coaching Careers, Jobs and Employment Information

Athletic, Coaching and Umpire Career and Job Highlights

  • Requires irregular hours and extensive traveling.
  • Athletes could get injuries that terminate their career.
  • High school and amateur sports offer the best job opportunities for coaches, sports instructors, umpires, referees, and sports officials.
  • There is intense competition for professional athlete jobs; therefore, athletes who seek to participate professionally must have amazing talent, passion, and commitment to training.

Sports (Athletic) and Coaching Career Overview

Being a nation full of avid sports fans and players, interest in watching sports and participating recreationally continues to expand at a rapid rate. Some amateur athletes dream of becoming paid professionals, such as players, coaches, or sports officials; but very little actually succeed at making a full-time living as a professional athlete. Those who do beat the odds, discover short careers and insecure jobs. Disregarding the small chance of getting a professional job, there are several options for part-time coaching, instructing, refereeing, or umpiring in amateur athletics and in educational systems.
Athletes and sports competitors entertain spectators by playing in officiated and controlled sports. Athletes must know the strategies of the game and abide by any rules and regulations as they play. Athletes can compete in a variety of team sports, such as baseball, basketball, football, hockey, and soccer; and they can compete in individual sports, such as golf, tennis, and bowling. Just as sports can be different, so can the degree of difficulty, varying from unpaid high school athletics to the professional level where the supreme athletes play on worldwide television.

On top of playing in games, athletes also spend numerous hours in hard practices every day, perfecting skills and learning teamwork under the direction of a coach or sports instructor. They also spend more time analyzing video tapes, so they may critique themselves on how they play and gain an advantage as they scrutinize their opponents’ playing strategies and weaknesses. Some athletes receive strength training to build up muscle and endurance and prevent injuries. All levels of competition are very fierce and security in a job is always unstable. Consequently, several athletes must train consistently year round to keep exceptional form, technique, and good physical condition. There are very few breaks for professional athletes. In accordance to physical training programs, athletes may also be required to go on strict diets during the prime playing season. Several athletes push themselves as hard as they can during practices and games, increasing their risk for injuries that could end their career. Minor injuries are detrimental as well because the athlete could be replaced.

Coaches instruct and arrange amateur as well as professional athletes in essentials of individual and team sports. In individual sports, instructors might often have these same responsibilities. Coaches prepare athletes for a competitive season through directing practices where athletes perform drills to improve their abilities and endurance. Using their knowledge in the sport, coaches help the athlete with proper form and technique in beginning higher level exercises trying to make the most of the players’ physical potential. In addition to supervising the improvement of athletes, coaches also are accountable for running the team during while practicing and competing, and for instilling in their athletes good sportsmanship, the spirit of competition, and working together as a team. They may also choose, store, issue, and stock equipment and supplies. During competitions, for example, coaches decide who will play to optimize fluid team work. Additionally, coaches conduct team strategy and impose certain plays during games to surprise and overpower opponents. To select the optimum plays, coaches assess or “scout” the opposing team before the competition, permitting them to decide on game strategies and certain plays.
Several high school coaches mainly academic teachers who complement their income by being a part time coach. College coaches treat their jobs as full time; they travel frequently looking for potential players.

Sports instructors instruct professional and nonprofessional athletes individually. They arrange, teach, train, and direct all types of athletes in sports such as bowling, tennis, golf, and swimming. Because sports are so diverse (from weight lifting to gymnastics to scuba diving) and may involve self-defense sports such as karate, instructors usually specialize in one or two areas. In addition to coaches, sports instructors also may have daily practices and be in charge of equipment and supplies. Using their sporting, physiology, and corrective technique expertise, they establish what the kind of exercises to use and how hard the exercises should be. They also give the athlete certain drills while correcting bad technique. A few instructors also give directions on using training apparatus like trampolines or weights, correct athletes’ weaknesses and enhance their training. Sports instructors use their best knowledge to evaluate athletes and their opponents to devise a game strategy.

Because of their different focuses, coaches and sports instructors often approach athletes in various ways. For instance, coaches work with the team during a game to optimize their winning chances. On the other hand, sports instructors, like those who instruct professional tennis players, usually are not allowed to coach their athletes during competition. Sports instructors spend a lot of time working one-on-one with athletes, which gives them time to plan custom training programs for individuals. It is challenging for coaches and instructors to encourage players; however, this is vital an athletes success. Several coaches and instructors get great satisfaction doing their job, helping children or young adults socially and physically to improve and learn skills that will promote achievement in their sport.

Umpires, referees, and other sports officials officiate at competitive athletic and sporting events by examining the play, identifying infractions of rules, and imposing penalties according to the sports’ rules and regulations. They predict the plays and then place themselves in the best spot to see the action where they evaluate the situation and decide any violations. A few sports officials may work by themselves, such as those in boxing. Others such as umpires work in groups, such as baseball umpires. Officials’ jobs are highly stressful in all sports because they are often have to make a quick decision, sometimes causing strong disagreements among players, coaches, or those watching.

Professional scouts assess the abilities of athletes, amateur and professional, to determine their talent and potential. The scout is a sports intelligence agent who primarily finds the best athletes that will qualify for his or her team and down the road, will bring success. Professional scouts usually work for scouting associations or do freelance work. As scouts search out new talent, they perform their work in secret so their opponents won’t know of their interest in particular players. A college-level head scout is usually an assistant coach; however, freelance scouts may assist colleges as they provide coaches information about outstanding players. These scouts look for gifted high school athletes through reading the newspaper, talking to high school coaches and alumni, going to high school games, and reviewing videotapes of candidates’ performances.

Athlete are known for having irregular hours. The coach, umpires, referees, and other sports officials also share these hours. Athletes, coaches, umpires, and related workers sometimes work weekends, evenings and even holidays. Through out most of the sports season and year, athletes and full-time coaches typically work more than 40 hours a week. A few coaches in educational systems, especially in high school, may coach several sports.
Athletes, coaches, and sports officials may be outside in different weather conditions for a lot for outdoor sports; those coaching indoor have the luxury of climate-controlled facilitates, such as arenas, indoor stadiums, or gymnasiums. Athletes, coaches, and some sports officials travel regularly by bus, airplane, or car to scout out players at sporting events.

Sports (Athletic) and Coaching Training and Job Qualifications

According to various levels and types of sports, education and training qualifications for athletes, coaches, umpires, and other workers differ significantly. Every job requires a great deal of knowledge about the sport that is typically acquired after having years of experience at lower levels. Most athletes have played their whole life, starting in elementary school and continuing to play through high school and sometimes college. They compete in amateur competitions and on teams in high school and college, where professional scouts can observe them. The majority of schools mandate athletes to obtain specific academic requirements to maintain eligibility to play. It takes years of effort to become a professional athlete. Those wanting to play professionally must obtain amazing talent, desire and devotion to training.

High schools typically prefer to hire teachers to be coaches and instructors that will work part-time. If they can’t find someone suitable, they hire an outside coach. A few entry-level positions for coaches or instructors mandate merely experience resulting from participation in the activity or sport. Several coaches start out as assistant coaches to acquire the necessary knowledge and experience required for advancing to head coach. Head coaches working at bigger schools who endeavor to contend at the uppermost levels of a sport require considerable experience coaching as a head coach of a different school or as an assistant coach. To achieve professional coach status, it typically takes several years of coaching and winning at the lower levels.
A bachelor’s degree is required for all levels of public secondary school head coaches and sports instructors. (Information on teachers, including those focusing on physical education, can be found in the section on teachers—preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary are in another place in the Handbook.) It is required for those who are not teachers to meet specific State qualifications in order to certify to become a head coach. Private school coaches and sports instructors may not have to reach these same standards to certify. Course in degree programs include the following: exercise and sports science, physiology, kinesiology, nutrition and fitness, physical education, and sports medicine.

For sports instructors wanting to instruct tennis, golf, karate, or anything else, certification is highly recommended. Sometimes, an individual must be CPR certified as well as 18 years old. Different certifying organizations particular to a sport have various requirements and training according to their expectations. One must participate in a clinic, camp, or school in order to certify. Those working part-time and in smaller places have a lower chance of needing formal education or training.

Umpires, referees, and other sports officials have certain requirements for each sport. They usually volunteer for intramural, neighborhood, and recreational league competitions to start out their career. College referee candidates have to be certified through an officiating school and be assessed during a trial period. A few bigger college leagues mandate officials to be certified with further qualifications, such as being a resident in or near the league’s boundaries and having prior experience that usually includes numerous years refereeing at high school and college level conference games.

Qualifications for professional sport officials are even stricter. For example, an umpire for professional baseball must have a high school diploma or an equivalent plus perfect vision (20/20) and fast reflexes. However to certify for a professional position, it required that potential candidates go to professional umpire training school. At this time, the Professional Baseball Umpires Corporation (PBUC) has approved two schools curriculums for training. Leading graduates are chosen for additional assessment as they officiate in a rookie minor league. Umpires, prior to being considered for major leagues, frequently need 8 to 10 years of experience in different minor leagues. In football candidates are required to obtain a minimum 10 years of officiating experience, with 5 of them at a collegiate varsity or minor professional level. Prospects for the NFL must be cross-examined by clinical psychologists to evaluate intelligence level and capability of handling tremendously stressful situations. Additionally, the NFL’s security department carries out detailed background checks. Potential candidates are probably interviewed by a board from the NFL officiating department and take a comprehensive test about the association’s rules and regulations.

A scout’s requires experience playing professional or college sports. This knowledge allows them to recognize young players who have astonishing athletic talent and skill. The majority of starting scouts jobs include spotting talent in a certain area or region. Working hard and having success can lead to full-time jobs in charge of bigger regions. A few scouts proceed to scouting director positions or different sport executive positions.

Athletes, coaches, umpires, and related workers possess developed skills in communication and leadership as well as being able to relate to others. To successfully instruct and encourage individuals or groups of athletes, coaches also must be creative and adaptable.

Sports and Coaching Job and Employment Opportunities

Through the year 2012, employment of athletes, coaches, umpires, and related workers is projected to rise about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment will grow due to the general public persisting to participate more and more in formal sports for entertainment, recreation, and exercise. Job expansion will also be pushed by the growing numbers of baby boomers about to retire, during which they are projected take part in leisure-time activities, like tennis and golf, and need instruction. Active participants in high school athletics will be the posterity of the baby boomers, requiring more coaches and instructors.

Increasing opportunities are estimated for coaches and instructors because physical fitness is becoming more important in our society. All ages of Americans are participating in extra young and lower-leveled athletic competitions, are becoming members of athletic clubs, and are being motivated to engage in physical education. Coaches and instructor employment also will expand with increasing programs for athletes in school and college and rising need for private sports training. Job expansion relating to sports among education will be determined by local school board decisions. Population expansion commands the building of more schools, especially in the developing suburbs. Nevertheless, when budgets become tight, financial support for athletic programs is usually cut first. Because team sports are so popular, they are able to compensate by assistance from fundraisers, booster clubs, and parents.

State-certified academic and physical education teachers are likely to be optimum candidates for becoming coaches and instructors. Coaching opportunities will arise from the need to change several high school coaches.

Professional athlete jobs will persist to be highly competitive. Opportunities to have a career in professional sports, such as golf or tennis may increase as novel tournaments are founded and participant receive more prize money. The majority of professional athletes’ careers are relatively short because of incapacitating injuries as well as age. As a result, a large fraction of the athletes in these jobs are changed each year, opening a few job opportunities. However, far more gifted young men and women have hopes of becoming a sports celebrity and will be competing for a restricted number of job openings.
Persons seeking part-time umpire, referee, and other sports high school level official jobs will have the optimum job opportunities; however, competition is probable for college level jobs with higher salaries and additional competition professional level jobs. Competition is expected to be very intense for scouts, certainly for professional teams who have limited positions.

Historical Earnings Information

In 2002, median yearly earnings of athletes were $45,320. The lowest 10 percent received less than $14,090, while the highest 10 percent received than $145,600. Still, professional athletes receiving the highest pay earn millions of dollars a year.

Factors such as level of education, certification, and geographic region may cause earnings to differ. A few instructors and coaches receive a salary, while those remaining may receive earnings per hour, per session, or according to the number of athletes.