questions to ask before beginning a career in sports

You’re driving home from another long day at the office when you realize you hate your job, and it’s time for a change — you want to find a career doing something you love. You know your real interest is in sports, and your head begins to swirl with excitement and confusion. Am I qualified for any jobs in sports? How do I begin a sports career? The short answer — of course you can — but there are several things to consider before you begin.

While it’s scary to change your job, a lot of people do it and do it often. The Employee Tenure in 2014 report from the Bureau of Labor Studies found that the average professional stays in a position for just 4.5 years.

So now you’re looking to enter the sports industry. Before you start your plan, whether that be enrolling in a sports management program, seeking broadcasting internships, or quitting your job and making that big career change, you need to stop and ask yourself a few things. The popular advice of following your passion may lead you down the wrong path, and you don’t want to wind up in a profession you hate.

Ask yourself these four questions before you start looking for jobs in sports:

1. Am I Willing to Relocate for a Sports Career?

Most people aren’t willing to move to a different area for a new position. The Kelly Global Workforce Index 2014 found that only 17 percent of professionals would be willing to relocate for a new job. You need to figure out if you’re in that small minority because it gauges how much you truly want to pursue jobs in sports.

Evaluate your current situation and look at the important factors. If your room for advancement is minimal and you feel disengaged and ready for a change, moving to a new city may be a wise decision. Factor in any added stresses, like a longer commute or the fact that you may not have an established support system.

Consider moving costs and try negotiating for some financial assistance when your new employer offers you a position. Finally, don’t forget to research the cost of living in targeted areas so you aren’t surprised when your salary appears greater than your actual take home. Look at taxes and find out what your major expenses like rent and insurance will run you.

2. Can I Afford Starting at a Lower Level?

For anyone looking for sports industry jobs, you need to know that you will most likely start at a lower level position and have to work your way up. Look at prospective sports jobs and offers, and compare it to what you’re making now or what you need to be making for a comfortable lifestyle.

Let’s say you’re in a sales management position in a retail company, but decide to pursue a career in sports sales. You may have to aim for lower level sales representative roles to gain industry knowledge and to learn the ins and outs of sports sales before you can make your way up to a management role.

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Make sure you budget accordingly if you anticipate lower pay. Save money and plan to make less for an extended period of time. This way, you aren’t slammed by unplanned expenses and stuck with a mound of debt.

3. Do I Have an Established Network Yet?

The value of having a professional network is beyond comparison to anything else. Your circle of friends and colleagues are your best asset when you want to learn about your industry and try to get work.

Before you start making the move into the industry, join professional organizations to connect with current professionals in sports jobs. Conduct informational interviews to get a clear vision of where you want to go and how you want to map out your sports career path. Ask to shadow people or seek out sports internships to learn more and get some hands-on experience.

Don’t forget to maintain relationships. An OfficeTeam survey from July 2014 found that 28 percent of senior managers surveyed say that failing to keep in touch is a major networking mistake.

Target companies you want to work for and look for opportunities to get referred but remember reciprocity goes a long way. People will recall when you merely ask for favors and disappear after they help you. Make sure you offer help as well and be ready when you’re called upon.

4. What Skills Do I Have That Are Transferable to a Job in Sports?

Perform a self-assessment to get a deeper understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. What skills do you currently have that are transferable? What do you need to learn? Do you have to enroll in school, or can you simply gain work experience? You need to know how you fit in and how you can get the sports career you want.

Compare your skills to what employers are looking for and find the skills gaps. If you’re lacking important things like computer skills, review online tutorials or enroll in classes. If you want to demonstrate your sports knowledge, start a blog so you can establish credibility and build a community of followers.

Hone in on specific details of your skillset and what is expected of you. Research jobs in sports by searching job boards and reading postings. Get a clear vision of where you’ll be, what you will be earning, and what your day-to-day will consist of. When you can imagine that, you can compare it to your current position and gauge if it’s the best idea.

A successful career in sports requires a lot more than just being passionate about football. If you are only relying on that, the sports industry may not be right for you. But if you can answer these questions and confidently say that you are ready to start your new career in sports, then get started right now!

What questions are you asking yourself before you pursue jobs in sports?