How To Get a Job in Basketball Operations

Basketball is more than just a way to practice teamwork and get exercise. If you pursue the necessary qualifications and proactively network, the sport could become your career field. There are jobs available in different types of environments around the country, with positions available in the NBA and at the college and high school levels. While you can get a basketball job at a school in a rural or urban environment, most professional basketball jobs are in the major cities.

What types of operations jobs are available in basketball

The question is not just how to get a job in basketball operations in 2021 but how to land the specific role that fits your background and passion. Many job-seekers focus their search on the front office, forgetting that there are many opportunities on the operations side. 

NBA and NCAA opportunities are particularly appealing to many. NCAA basketball operations jobs are not as competitive. Note that it is often much easier to make headway with an NCAA team if you are a current student or are an alumna/alumnus.

Whichever level you pursue, you need to know what you would do in a given position. Here are sample job descriptions for three top basketball operations roles:

  • Coaching staffjob description – Help players improve their skills one-on-one, test training strategies, and design gameplay, among a broad spectrum of responsibilities. 
  • Basketball operations manager/basketball operations director job description – In manager or director of basketball operations jobs, you provide general support to the team. Responsibilities may include ordering equipment, overseeing team travel, managing the schedule, and interacting with sponsors.
  • President of basketball operations job description – The president of basketball operations is a more senior-level position. You handle salary cap management, negotiations, decisions on personnel, talent assessment, along with overseeing all other aspects of operations. 

A few other key areas of basketball operations are equipment operations, merchandise, and ticketing.

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The value of internships

Once you consider the specific jobs you might want, the question of how to get a job in basketball operations turns to the incredible value of internships. To get a basketball operations internship, take two crucial steps:

  1. Volunteer. Volunteer your time with a basketball tournament, work at a basketball summer camp, get a coaching position for a youth team, or help out at a nearby stadium with game-day operations. 
  2. Make connections. If you want to work in basketball or any sport, networking is essential. A sports-specific network can help you meet other industry pros and possibly find out about opportunities.

How to make the most of a 2021 basketball operations internship

The key with a basketball operations summer internship – or one in any season – is to take a long view. Sure, you want a foot in the door, and an internship can provide that. However, you also want to leverage the internship into a basketball operations career. 

Here are three steps you can take from NBA video veteran John Ross, who started his career as an intern:

  1. Clear your schedule. These jobs are incredibly competitive. To stand out, be available. Prove yourself by being free to work in the evenings and on the weekends. Be there to rebound for players. Be there to watch game film. Be there to turn the lights on and off. As Ross emphasizes, you can get noticed quickly by simply being present and putting in long hours. 
  2. Love what you do. Approach the position with your love for the sport. As Mark Twain said, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Your attitude can fuel your career.
  3. Broaden your capabilities. Don’t just think about your job description but how you can broadly develop basketball expertise.

What internships are available in 2021?

As with operations careers, people often want to know specifically about internship opportunities with NBA teams and NCAA schools. Internships are available in both NBA basketball operations and NCAA basketball operations:

  • NBA internships – You can find operations internships with specific teams. For instance, you can get Indiana Pacers Internships or Washington Wizards internships. You can also get internships with the league itself. Even the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) has a summer internship program.
  • NCAA internships – There are also internships available through the NCAA, as well as at other colleges. Again, you can get internships with the national association itself as well.

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Educational path

It is important to have a bachelor’s degree to develop a career in basketball operations. Attend an accredited four-year school. A strong path is to major in sports management, which will start to give you a behind-the-scenes view of the sport. Other possible relevant majors include finance, management, event management, communications, business administration, and marketing. You also may want to extend your education to a master’s degree in sports management or a master of business administration (MBA), either of which would open up senior-level opportunities.

How much do basketball operations jobs pay?

There is great variation in pay since jobs differ in academic background, skill level, and work experience. If you are passionate about basketball, director of basketball operations jobs are examples of financially attractive positions. Those roles pay an average of $112,200 nationwide, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, if you are a college student or just breaking into the field, assume that your entry-level pay will be much lower than that: $45,130 on average.

How to get a job in basketball operations with networking

Networking is another essential way to getting a job in basketball operations. Online networking has become increasingly critical. More importantly, you want to find ways to network online with sports industry professionals. Finally, you want to find ways to connect, as possible, that is 100% free.

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