Becoming an athletic director puts you in charge of a school’s entire sports program.
Being a director is a significant responsibility that can bring a lot of fulfillment to your life – not to mention a big paycheck.
You could be like Greg Byrne at Alabama, who has raised hundreds of millions for facility upgrades, made critical coaching hires, and won numerous national championships.
But the first step is figuring out how to become an athletic director. This guide should help with that. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know to enter this profession.
What Is An Athletic Director?
An athletic director oversees the administrative side of college and sometimes high school sports. They are responsible for acting as the head of the sporting program at the school where they work.
Being an athletic director is a job that comes with numerous responsibilities, which we’ll cover below. With so much going on, an athletic director’s job rarely gets dull.
- Associate Athletics Director
Administration/Management - Central Region
- Assistant Athletic Trainer
Health/Fitness/Rec. - West Region
- Assistant Athletic Director
Sales - Southeast Region
- Assistant Athletic Director/Director of Communications
Administration/Management - Central Region
What Does An Athletic Director Do?
Athletic director responsibilities can vary a bit from school to school, but they typically include the following:
- Raising funds for facility improvements
- Hiring coaches
- Organizing sporting events
- Supervising teams
- Making various other organizational hires and overseeing those employees
You can think of an athletic director as the CEO of a school’s sports program. They get the last word on most significant decisions related to sports at the university or high school that employs them.
This is why schools’ athletic programs rely on athletic directors to run smoothly.
What Degree Do You Need To Be An Athletic Director?
There’s no technical degree requirement to become an athletic director. But, in practice, you’re almost always going to need one unless you have standout qualifications in another area (such as being a former professional athlete that went to the university that hires you).
A bachelor’s degree in sports management is the most common. But other related degrees often suffice. For example, you could get a degree in accounting, general management, or even business and still qualify for these jobs, provided you get the right experience.
How Much Do Athletic Directors Make?
The average base salary for an athletic director is $61,689. However, your salary can vary significantly based on the level of the program that you lead.
Early in your career, you may earn under $60,000 working for community colleges, high schools, or low-tier universities. But as you climb the ranks and get more experience, you can begin qualifying for positions that pay very well.
For example, Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte makes $2.4 million annually, and other athletic directors at major universities aren’t far behind. You can make quite a bit of money as an athletic director as you advance in your career.
Tips For Becoming An Athletic Director
If you’re serious about becoming an athletic director, you want to start looking for ways to differentiate yourself from the competition. You can stand out by:
- Earning a master’s degree
- Getting the proper certifications
- Developing your leadership experience
- Focusing on networking
- Nailing the job application process
We’ll take a closer look at each of these tips in the sub-sections below.
Consider a Master’s Degree
First, you could think about getting a master’s degree in a field like sports management or even an MBA. Earning a relevant master’s will give you deeper insights into what it takes to lead a school’s athletic program to success.
When you start applying to schools, this can help you stand out from other candidates who may only have bachelor’s degrees.
Just make sure that the master’s degree you get is genuinely relevant to the profession. Otherwise, you may spend another 1-2 years in school without getting much benefit from doing so.
Look Into Certification Options
If you don’t want to return to school to get your master’s degree, then pursuing a relevant certification could be a better idea. These often take less time to complete but are highly targeted to athletic administration.
Some of the best certification options for aspiring athletic directors include:
- Registered athletic administrator
- Certified athletic administrator
- Certified master athletic administrator
Develop Leadership Experience
Developing your leadership skills is also essential if you want to be an athletic director.
In this role, you will oversee many coaches, administrative workers, and other employees. You have to be able to connect with people from all different backgrounds and get them to buy into your vision for the department.
You can develop your leadership skills by taking relevant classes in school, taking on leadership positions in your local community, and even reading or watching video lessons on leadership online.
Focus on Networking
Athletic director jobs are almost always highly competitive, and more people want these positions than there are opportunities. That’s why networking is essential to get hired as an AD at a major program.
Often, the difference between getting hired for a position or not is whether you know the hiring person. You can start forming those connections by attending conferences, speaking at different events, and connecting with university administrators in the areas where you want to work.
Nowadays, you can also use social media platforms to network, such as LinkedIn. Developing a solid online presence may also help you build a more robust network.
Finding a Position
Becoming an athletic director is an excellent way to earn a solid living while working in the world of sports. But you need a strong application process to get hired for these competitive positions, starting with applying for the right jobs as soon as they become available.
JobsInSports.com can help you do that. We post all the best sports job opportunities across the nation as soon as they become available. This can bring your application to the top of the pile and increases your chances of getting a sports job interview.
So why wait? Create an account with us today to start getting notified when new jobs in your areas of interest become available.