What Does a Sports Accountant Do

Accounting and sports may seem to be entirely separate subjects. However, increasingly, major and minor league teams offer sports accounting jobs. Professionals in sports accounting positions organize the franchise’s financial activity within a multi-billion-dollar industry. Especially if you have a passion for athletics, it can be enticing to get into the game through accounting jobs in the sports industry. 

It’s a position you could assume with great pride. To have a winning season, the franchise needs the best coaches and players. The responsibility of sports accounting jobs is to solidify and improve the organization’s financial standing — so you could be instrumental in the team’s success.

What Does a Sports Accountant Do?

If you want to handle basic accounting tasks for a team or individual players, you can do that through accounting jobs in sports. Assuming you are working for a team, there are the finances of many employees to consider, including all staff members, trainers, coaches, and players. Note that sports accounting jobs are often seasonal positions.

Your role is essential to apply your accounting knowledge and skillset (see below) to the organization. The accountant handles payroll for everyone, from the ticket sellers, concession workers, and part-time security personnel to executive leadership, medical technicians, trainers, coaches, and athletes. It can get complex: beyond the salary and bonuses earned by players, other earnings can include sponsorships, image rights, and public appearances. Assessment and tracking of sponsorships and advertising deals of the team is another responsibility of a sports accountant. Finally, much of the overarching duty of accounting jobs in sports is to ensure that everything is properly compliant with the tax code.

A lot of success in sports accounting jobs is about speed. You may need to move around and be highly flexible. Despite the specific challenges of a sports accounting position, many people find it to be their dream job since it gets them into the world of sports.

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How Much Do Sports Accountants Make?

Depending on how much experience you have, the organization where you are employed, and geographical location, salary will vary greatly. However, the average nationwide is $74,130. If you work with individual owners, coaches, or players, you could potentially make much more.

What Are the Educational Requirements to Land a Career in Sports Accounting?

You will need to get a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school in order to land a position in sports accounting. Since the industry is so incredibly competitive, it is a good idea to get an advanced degree as well. However, you at least want to get a four-year undergraduate degree. 

A master of business administration (MBA) with an accounting concentration is a typical path for a sports accountant, as is a master of accountancy (MAcc) degree. Once you have accounting jobs in professional sports, you will have a greater chance of getting promoted to a controller or chief financial officer (CFO) if you develop a more robust academic background.

What Skills Do You Need?

You must be able to assess financial performance using strong analytical skills and possess impressive math and computing skills. You must be detail-oriented and have a protective drive to keep the organization away from potential risks, such as dropping sponsorship earnings or rising wage costs. Attention to detail is again important related to making reasonable projections and keeping correct records. 

There is a lot of interaction in these positions, with sponsors, owners, executives, and managers. Excellent communication skills are essential when making the proper financial recommendations and getting anything you need from personnel and management. If you possess all those skills, you can approach accounting careers in sports with confidence.

What Types of Sports Jobs Can You Get With an Accounting Degree?

Whether you get a position in the NBAMLBNFLNHL, or otherwise, you can find the following sports accounting jobs with a four-year accounting degree:

Sports cost accountant or merchandise accountant 

You could specifically be a sports cost accountant. In that role, your job is to reduce waste, increase profits, and control costs. If you become a merchandise accountant, you would handle all merchandise-related revenue. Sports team merchandise sales can be substantial in stadiums and online, so this role is more significant than it sounds. Merchandise stock management and pricing may be additional responsibilities of the position.

Sports financial comptroller or controller

Every team needs someone to guide and oversee the accounting department, which is the role of the financial comptroller or controller. This individual leads the team’s finance and accounting operations. These individuals get better pay than other sports accountant positions, given their job’s more critical scope and more sweeping responsibilities.

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Auditor, tax accountant, or payroll accountant

An internal auditor ensures that everyone is performing their responsibilities correctly. They find problems and highlight them so that the team remains compliant with the tax code.

A tax accountant who works for a sports team or individual athletes is in charge of filing taxes in a timely and legal manner. Their main role is to make sure clients do not get into trouble with the IRS (resulting in fines or even jail time).

Managing how all staff, including coaches and players, are compensated is the job of the payroll accountant. When coaches and players earn bonuses, the payroll accountant pays them. This individual applies their knowledge of tax regulations to maintain compliance. They study employee and player contracts with an evolving sense of the prevailing market. 

How to Get Started

There are two pieces of the path forward, both critical:

#1. Get the degrees described above. Education is the first step to open the door to a sports accountant career. Again, a bachelor’s degree is necessary, and a master’s degree gives you a better chance at any position. If you want to become a sports tax accountant, you could get a master’s in taxation. If you want to become an auditor, you could get a master’s in forensic accounting.

#2. Get connected. As with all sports jobs, it is important to know people to develop a career as a sports accountant. At JobsInSports.com, we offer a network of 14,000+ sports industry professionals. Join for FREE today and start making crucial industry connections.