Entry-level sports jobs are the best (and sometimes only) way to get your foor into the sports industry door. To choose the one that suits you best, you must know where you stand in terms of skills and competencies.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers’ (NACE) Job Outlook 2016 Spring Update survey found that employers want specific skills they find critical to a candidate’s career readiness. Critical thinking and problem solving, professionalism and work ethic, teamwork, and communication skills all made the top of the list.

Indeed these soft skills are important to your success in finding entry-level sports jobs and continuing your professional development. It’s time to flex your career readiness muscles and take your first step on your career path.

Let’s take a look at some sports industry careers and the best entry-level sports jobs to get you  started:

 

Coaching

For those interested in becoming the next Vince Lombardi or Pat Summitt, it’s time to hit the books. The best way to start is by pursuing an undergraduate education that affords you the opportunity to learn about strategy, athletics management, leadership, and other subjects relevant to the world of coaching. Consider bachelor’s programs like education, sports science, business administration, statistics, and athletic coaching education, among others.

Next, you’ll want to start your graduate degree and become a graduate assistant. As a graduate assistant, you get hands-on training by helping with practices and running drills while expanding your knowledge of your favorite sport. To succeed in this role, you need communication and listening skills and a willingness to learn.

Your passion will fuel professional networking, which is your best method of finding a position. Build a positive reputation for yourself in the athletic department, meet coaches and athletes, and create authentic, meaningful relationships with them.

While the median salary for graduate assistants is usually low, around $20,000, according to PayScale, the business and sports knowledge you absorb, the hands-on work experience you gather, and the professional network you build will be invaluable as you pursue NCAA jobs or other coaching jobs.

 

Sales

The sales jobs in the sports industry can provide an interesting path for any young professional. You will learn important skills that you can carry with you throughout your career, no matter what path you end up taking.

During your experience as a sales assistant for a television, radio, or other sports media company, you will become an expert communicator, strong negotiator, and persistent go-getter. You can branch out to other roles, like sales coordinator, sales representative or associate, account coordinator and manager, department director, and other positions related to client services.

At $36,000 per year, which is the average salary according to PayScale, a sales assistant can earn a decent living wage, despite the entry-level position. Sales is ideal for those who want to learn the ins and outs of how the sports industry operates and understand how revenue is generated.

 

Marketing

If you’re interesting in introducing and promoting goods or services in the sports industry, sports marketing jobs are for you. Marketing is vital to the success of the company you work for, whether that be a sports team, media company, equipment manufacturer, or coaching service.

Start as a marketing coordinator, where you can have a hand in developing campaigns, creating presentations, brainstorming brand messaging ideas, and managing digital properties. Since this role involves a lot of research, brand development, social media management, content management, and many other facets, the growth potential is high.

You can go in several different directions after you spend a few years wearing the many hats required of a coordinator. You can move up to specialist positions, management, and even director roles. As Payscale found, with an average salary of $40,000 a year, marketing coordinators make a good amount to jumpstart their fast-paced career path. If you really want to break into the field, consider looking for sports marketing internships.

Production

Sports media companies are booming, mostly thanks to the internet and the rise in content demand. If you are interested in sports production jobs start as a sports production intern or production assistant, where you aid producers and directors with developing and creating content, take care of administrative duties, and work on editing software.

Big companies like ESPN offer lots of opportunities for hands on experience. With enough experience and drive, you can become a producer and work your way up the career path. Aside from research and writing, you will need to be skilled in editing, production techniques, and of course know a lot about sports.

At an average of just $13 per hour, according to PayScale, production assistants don’t make much but do get to further develop their technical skills like film editing, camerawork, and other production competencies while deepening their understanding of content production and sports media. After some experience, they can advance even beyond producer roles to become creative directors.

Entry-level work is usually lower paying but acts as a great stepping stone to bigger and better things. These career fields merely scratch the surface. You may want to consult athletes as a nutritionist, stick to sportswriting and enter the world of journalism, or crunch numbers as a data scientist.

No matter the path you choose, make your decision, create career goals and hit the ground running. If you approach the work with passion and an energetic attitude, you will learn a lot and stay competitive in the sports job market.

What entry-level sports jobs are you interested in pursuing?

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