In the world of sports scouts, Scot McCloughan stands out as one of the best minds for evaluating talent and building a winning team. His time as an executive with the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks led to impressive successes for both teams — Seattle won Super Bowl XLVIII, and San Francisco came close several times thanks to some of his key pickups, like Alex Smith, Frank Gore, and Patrick Willis.
After playing for the Oakland Raiders in the late 1960s, McCloughan became a scout for the organization with his father. From there, he joined the Green Bay Packers as a regional scout and then became the college scouting director for the Seattle Seahawks. He started his own college scouting agency before taking a general manager position with San Francisco a couple of years ago.
Despite being fired from San Francisco in March 2017, McCloughan is still highly regarded in the world of professional scouting. He’s played a major role in building some of the most successful NFL teams in recent history.
What makes sports scouts one of the coolest sports jobs in the industry? Let’s take a look at the profession and what the career looks like:
Duties and Responsibilities
- Director of On-Campus Recruiting
Administration/Management - Southeast Region
- Staff Assistant, Athletics Recruiting Coordinator & Head Football Coach, NCAA
Sports Services - Northeast Region
- Volleyball Recruiting Coach
Sports Services - Central Region
- Baseball Recruiting Coach
Sports Services - West Region
Many scouts travel a lot, some internationally, to evaluate top prospects during sporting events. During their evaluation, they look at players in action, identifying what skills set them apart and whether or not they can play at the professional level.
They also develop relationships in the industry. They get to know coaches at all levels, including high school and AAU, to try to stay informed about the best players.
Typically, scouts work for sports agencies, colleges, or sports teams. They aim to improve a team’s level of talent and provide reports on how much a team should invest in each player. For example, should the team draft a player? Which round should they pursue him? How much should they offer as a signing bonus? This is a scout’s primary goal — to gather information and provide analysis and advice for talent acquisition.
Types of Scouts
As with many sports jobs, scouting involves several different variations of the role. The MLB, for example, classifies their scouts as the following:
- Advance scouts – They research opposing teams and provide reports on game strategy.
- Professional scouts – They track active players under contract with other teams to see whether or not their organization should pursue a contract with them.
- Amateur scouts – Usually, teams will assign them by regions to find high school and college talent as a way to prepare for the amateur draft that takes place every June.
- International scouts – These scouts cover talent that aren’t subject to the June draft. Typically, they cover players throughout the world and aim to find top talent the team can sign as a free agent.
What You Need
Many sports jobs, specifically those that focus on talent evaluation, require experience as an athlete or coach. While it’s not technically required, this kind of experience can certainly help. Coaches and former athletes are more informed about what it takes to be a successful athlete, so they know great players when they see them.
A degree isn’t necessary, but a bachelor’s in sports management or business can be helpful. In school, you can learn the ins and outs of management and how to research and crunch numbers — a crucial part of talent evaluation.
Pay and Outlook
Sports scouts will always be needed in the industry, especially as teams get smarter with their strategizing and start to rely on analytics more. The good news is that job growth is at six percent, which is an average rate of growth, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
While the median pay is $31,000 per year, the highest 10 percent earned more than $70,050. This shows that scouts can boost their income potential with more experience.
How to Land a Job
Is scouting one of the sports jobs you’re looking for? Here are some quick tips on how to land an offer:
- Find the sport you want to work in. For example, if you want to work in basketball, start by gaining experience as a coach.
- Seek out internships and volunteer opportunities.
- Share your passion and knowledge with a professional blog.
- Join professional organizations and attend networking events.
- Look for ways to expand your knowledge. You can listen to podcasts, attend seminars, or sign up for online courses.
While being a sports scout isn’t for everyone, if you’re passionate about talent acquisition and game strategy, this could be the perfect role for you.
How are you pursuing sports jobs in scouting?