Hockey is an interesting sport because when compared to all of the major team sports it has such a unique playing surface and such unique needs. Despite its cold-climate northern origins it is one that has managed to thrive in sunny climates – and Stanley Cup Champions in places like Los Angeles and the Carolinas have helped it expand to unexpected markets. If you are looking for hockey jobs, there is not only a wide variety of leagues but also a wide variety of needs that the sport needs to fill. Here are some options if with your next career move you are ready to get your “game on.”
In addition to the NHL, there are a variety of local and regional leagues, most of them part of the NHL farm system, that have opportunities available. Since hockey is a sport that crosses borders in a way unlike most of major North American sports, the proliferation of leagues is quite high. The professional minor leagues consist of the American Hockey League, the East Coast Hockey League, the Central Hockey League, the French Canadian Ligue Nord-Américaine de Hockey, and the Federal Hockey League. In fact in Mexico there is now a semi-pro league called La Liga Mexicana Élite. Most professional sports draft from college, but in addition to college the National Hockey League drafts from the junior level. There is such a large proliferation of such teams in both the US and Canada that they can’t all be listed here. The Major Junior leagues, the highest level, are considered by some to be semi-pro since the players are often compensated. There is no shortage of opportunities to find a career in the world of hockey and perhaps move up to the NHL. However, what skills and professions are needed?
Unique Positions in Hockey
One of the most important positions in the US job market for hockey is in marketing, promotion, an outreach. Hockey is well established in Canada as the national sport, but even with its growth into the sun-belt markets of the US it is still considered somewhat of a niche sport. Therefore, anybody who has success as penetrating into new markets or coming up with innovative ways to expand interest in a sport will have an edge. For example, the National Hockey League recruits Promotions and Fan Development Assistants in non-traditional hockey markets that perform outreach to potential fans, including youth hockey clubs that seek to establish a new solid fan base and raise brand recognition for the team by creating a new generation of fans. These positions prefer a college degree, strong communication and organizational skills, and require a background check due to the possibility of working with youth.
Furthermore, hockey has an array of unique technical needs. There is, of course, the famous song about driving the zamboni that the title of this article alludes to, but the job of caring for the ice and facilities is actually fairly technically demanding and teams recruit people with solid maintenance and engineering skills for these roles. An organization called Serving the American Rinks (STAR), which was started as a joint venture of U.S. Figure Skating and USA Hockey, provides industry recognized designations called the Certified Ice Technician (CIT) and Certified Rink Administrator. The CIT designation is recognized by the NHL. In order to achieve the CIT designation the rink professional must pass courses centered on Basic Refrigeration, Ice Making and Painting Technologies, and Ice Maintenance and Equipment Operations (which of course includes gaining expertise with the zamboni). Every five years the CIT-designated professional must take a recertification exam to maintain their status. The Certified Rink Administrator is for general management of the rink facilities and encompasses Human Resources Management, Operations and Risk Management, and Programming, Marketing, and Promotions. A professional who has earned both of these designations will be awarded a higher designation called the Certified Ice Rink Manager (CIRM). This designation is the highest recognized in professional rink management and should allow any professional who has achieved it the opportunity to manage facilities across all levels of hockey.
One other unique need that hockey has compared to other sports is translation. Though all sports tend to have an international component, hockey not only has bilingual origins as the national sport of Canada but also has a strong presence from Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and a host of other countries. The National Hockey League has been known to hire special assistants and interpreters, such as Susanna Goruveyn, who handles the unique needs of many of the NHL’s Russian nationals. Search our job board or get in contact with us if you are excited about looking for a career in this fast-paced and unique team sport.