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Football jobs can be lucrative. However, the average salary for a football scout is not as high as you might think: just $40,050, according to online tuition-free educational platform OnlineDegree.com. While there is a great disparity in earnings from one scout to the next, the general salary range is $20,140—$70,050. These jobs can be tough: Some football scouts are independent contractors who are busy during the football season but light on work otherwise. To learn about athletes, they must travel to tryouts and games. Since games are often played over weekends or on weeknights, scouts must be available to work during those hours.

The money, travel requirements, and strange hours are not the focus for most people drawn to scouting, though. They do it out of passion. Passion is insufficient without the right knowledge and strategy, though, if you want to win one of these highly coveted NCAA and NFL jobs.

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How to Become a Football Scout

Here are some important steps you can consider taking as you work toward a career in college or pro scouting:

Step #1 – Consider if the job is right for you.

In the military context, a scout is a soldier sent out in advance. This individual collects details on where the opposing side is located, how they are moving, and how strong they are.

A football scout is not collecting information on the opposing side; rather, they find superstar football players and recruit them to college or to the NFL. Football scouts must be able to convince athletes to choose one team over another, so strong communication and general interaction skills are essential. 

Beyond those basic aspects of the job, also consider whether the job is really a good fit. Character traits that are common to highly successful football scouts, per the National Scouting Report, include:

  • Motivation & discipline – Being a football scout is simply not an ordinary job. You have to be able to go out and scout athletes wherever they are playing: practices, games, and tryouts that could be time zones away. Motivation and discipline are critical to getting tasks done for the two sides of the business, assisting current athletes who are getting offers and seeking out great new prospects.
  • Character & integrity – Fundamentally, you need to be committed to helping the athletes. If for no other reason, be honest because you are acting as an extension of the coach.

Step #2 – Coach or play sports.

The majority of scouts have played football either in college or the NFL, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Having played yourself or having monitored athletes as a coach gives you better insight into evaluating athlete talent. Engaging with players and coaches by being a part of the game will make it easier to speak the language of athletics when scouting. 

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Step #3 – Go to school & get certified.

While a college degree is not necessary for a career in scouting, it certainly can give you broader employment options. A good direction for a scout is a degree in sports science, exercise science, or even sports coaching. Sports management, sales, marketing, and business are other majors that are common for scouts. 

You may also have to get certification, which is necessary for NCAA jobs. To get certified as an NCAA football recruiting scout, you need to apply with them and agree to follow certain rules.

Step #4 – Attend online training academies.

Online training is an interesting possibility that has emerged. These programs give you access to training in the primary football scout concerns, whether you do not have a related college degree or want to get more specialized knowledge.

Two of the most prominent ones are these two: 

This same pair of organizations is recommended on wikiHow, which notes that the courses go beyond scout-specific topics (e.g., how to write scouting reports and rate talent) to general management and business ones. Plus, courses at these organizations are instructed by proven football scouts with deep connections in college or pro football. Remember to network.

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Step #5 – Brush up on sales.

Since you need to intrigue players and get them to choose your program over alternatives, reading sales books can help.

Step #6 – Work your way through the industry.

Do not expect the path to scouting to be direct, particularly if you want to get to the pro level. Start working your way through the industry, getting experience while you get your college degree if you can. To scout college football, recruiting departments should be your focus.

Vito Gonella, now an NFL football scout, originally hoped to be a player himself, getting turned down as a walk-on at Arizona State. As he continued as a student, Gonella eventually heard from his roommate that new coach Dennis Erickson was hiring student assistants for the recruiting department. While Gonella had not yet decided the level at which he wanted to scout, football recruiting interested him. 

Gonella ended up landing the job. However, when he started interacting with some pro football scouts, he quickly realized he was better suited to that. It took time, though: Before becoming a scout, recruiting roles he held included assistant recruiting coordinator and pro liaison. In the latter position, he started interfacing directly with scouts, directors, and general managers. Finally, he shifted into a position as a scouting assistant. 

Step #7 – Be willing to toil.

Professional (NFL) football scout Matt Waugh’s path sounds a little more painful, but he made it work too. Waugh did various internships and networked for the better part of a decade, trying to break into the field. He slept on a friend’s floor to attend the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine. He eventually transitioned to a scouting position from an internship he was working with the LA Rams. What is particularly striking about the challenges Waugh faced is that he is a former NFL player. Do not expect this journey to be easy.

Step #8 – Know immediately when football scout jobs open.

It should be obvious why being a member of a sports community would be valuable in landing football scout positions. Why JobsInSports.com specifically, though? We are more than a sports job board; we are a community of more than 4000 industry professionals. Join our network and find – and apply – for your dream sports job today!