Job Prospects in a Team's Backroom Staff

Behind every sport’s team is another team. While those on this team may not score tie-breaking three-pointers or hold the Heisman trophy at the end of the season, these staffers are support players on a winning team. More than performing the functions of the humble water boy, they are a part of a well-oiled machine that takes care of the players and manages the everyday functions of the team as a whole.

When thinking of arena sports teams, the spotlight is always on the head coaches. While these positions are extremely important, prospective job seekers can work close with the team while participating in an interesting line of work. Whether at the college or professional levels, anyone working with athletes will find that there are many career opportunities within the field. Many of these employees include:

  • Assistant and lead coaches
  • Recruiting coordinators
  • Offense and defensive coordinators
  • General managers
  • Sales, advertising and marketing positions
  • Health professionals
  • Numerous graduate and internship positions

Because of the heightened popularity and importance of sports today, behind-the-scenes employees who work in these fields really need an education. While it may seem like the crème de la crème dream job to work with some of the most talented, high profile athletes in the country, these positions require professionalism and understanding of the market in which they serve. For this reason, most of the positions in sports require a college degree and years of expertise.

Those seeking to work with athletes directly through coaching have to earn a degree. Coaches at the college or professional level usually have a bachelor’s degree in athletic coaching, sports science, physical education, or other equivalent majors, in addition to the various mandated certifications, i.e. CPR and first aid. While the degree requirements for coaching at the college and professional levels are similar, the work experience required is quite different. Usually, those who coach athletes at the college level begin their careers in local high schools. Because these jobs are highly valued and because college coaches spend a lot of time with the players, people working in these professions take forever to retire making these jobs very limited and highly desired. Coaches who work in the professional leagues tend to be former players or have experience in coaching. Unlike college coaching, professional coaches have a high turnover due to intense media and fan scrutiny.

Coaching is the most obvious place someone interested in working for a team would end up. However, many health professionals work on the physical stamina, conditioning, diet and overall health of the players. Of the positions that support a sports team, the most common ones and their degrees are:

  • Medical doctors and doctors of osteopathy are required to earn a medical degree.
  • Athletic trainers are required to earn a bachelor’s degree and have two years of working experience before applying for their certification.
  • Exercise physiologists are required to hold a bachelor’s degree and at minimum hold a master’s degree to apply for certification.
  • Physical therapists are required to hold a bachelor’s degree that leads to a doctoral degree.
  • Dietician/Sports Nutritionist must be registered dieticians through the American Dietetic Association.

These health professionals can be found working with athletes in both the professional and amateur sports.

Those who like to see and be seen might find themselves working on the more public, high profile side of the behind-the-scenes game. Positions like event coordinators, public relations, advertising or marketing assistant, and sales representative perform vital functions as a part of any sports program. Like most of the other positions, these require a bachelor degree. Anyone interested in media can earn a four-year degree in public relations, marketing or advertising from an accredited college or university that has a journalism and communications program. However, if an individual really enjoys the competitive sporting atmosphere but does not want to write for a living, they can work in jobs with a sports management degrees such as sales.

Fans travel far and wide, some sporting strange and unusual costumes in support of their favorite sports teams, not really knowing that they are only seeing a small fraction of the effort that goes into producing the three or four hours of action-packed play that thrills viewers. Behind every show stopping play, behind every accolade, behind every major upset or win, a team of silent players supports the athletes who make a college professional ball game exciting, even interesting. In a matter of three or four years and some experience, one of these silent players could be you.

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By Mo Johnson, Copyright © 2006-2017

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