work in sports

This is the fourth article of the Money Talks series. In the first article, we covered how to determine your value when you work in sports. The second article offers tips on how to maximize your earnings in your current role. The third article shows how to negotiate for a raise.

You’ve been in the same job for a few years now. At first, you enjoyed the raises and bonuses, but lately, you’ve felt stagnant. Your salary has flatlined despite your excellent performance.

When you work in sports, it’s important to focus on career planning. Failing to set career goals is one of the biggest professional mistakes you can make.

Developing a roadmap makes it easier to reach your financial goals. This helps you know when employers are hindering your future earnings potential. As you start to feel undervalued in your compensation, you will lose your sense of motivation.

The Motivation-Hygiene Theory

Psychologist Fredrick Herzberg created a theory to understand factors of job satisfaction and dissatisfaction. He suggested that salary is a factor of dissatisfaction. So if your paycheck isn’t competitive, you’re likely to dislike your job.

On the other hand, a few main factors of job satisfaction are growth and advancement. If you’re given growth opportunities, chances are, you’ll be happier.

But there is an important distinction, and you can’t control what employers do. Waiting and hoping for better pay will lead to disengagement, burnout, and feelings of stagnation.

As you begin planning your next career moves and aligning your path with your financial goals, take these elements into consideration:

Understand the Salary Arc

It’s important to be realistic and to think short- and long-term when determining your future earnings. Start by researching current salary information about your specific career track.

When establishing objectives, you need to know about the salary arc. During your 20s, you’re more likely to be earning promotions and job hopping. You’re bound to see a lot of salary growth as you gain experience and learn new skills.

But expect your growth to slow in your 30s and 40s. Consider this when you set salary goals for the next one, three, five, and ten years.  

Set Your Stepping Stones

Those who build successful sports careers determine how to navigate their path through various sports jobs. The best place to start is to identify your ideal role in the future.

If you’re in marketing, perhaps you want to be a chief marketing officer one day. This will take a couple of decades, which will include several stepping-stone roles along the way.

Related Jobs

Stepping-stone roles are jobs that help you build experience. Be specific about your earning potential and when you want to start and end these roles. For example, in your five-year plan, you want to be working in marketing management, earning between $55,000 and $65,000 per year.

As you work in sports, you might realize as a marketing coordinator that you’re most interested in social media. Therefore, your entry-level position as a marketing coordinator is your stepping stone role, where you can stay for about a year, earning around $40,000. Then, work your way into your specialty by finding a social media coordinator role, which you can leverage to earn a social media manager position in a few years.

This is an essential part of your career plan. Stay motivated by tracking how your day-to-day is building toward your ideal career and bringing you closer to your earnings objectives.

Take the Best Career Development Approach

Settling is not going to yield higher raises. Be proactive and look for ways to become more valuable in your role and in the sports industry.

Assess your current role and find the skills gap between you and your goal. Then, create an action plan.

One of the most common pursuits is a graduate degree. However, these can be costly. If you truly believe a master’s degree is necessary after you conduct research, look for cost-effective ways to earn it.

The best option is to pursue education with an employer who offers tuition reimbursement. This way, you’re minimizing your student loan debt. You can also save big by attending public schools instead of private universities.

Don’t bury yourself in six-figure debt without ensuring your education will have a big impact on your financial earnings in the future. Research this by networking and asking those who earned a graduate degree, like one of your mentors. They will share what impact they saw in their career growth and help you determine if it’s a necessity for reaching your ideal role.

Other options to consider include career-specific certifications and working on a professional association board. These can help you develop skills, expand your network, and build your expertise.

Remember, your work in sports is your journey. Employers should be supportive of your career and your earnings goals. Be realistic, but stay focused on every step you take. This way, you create the professional and personal life you want.