Careers

The Top 10 Sports Careers for Non-Athletes

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For many, big league dreams are just that. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to pursue your passion away from the field, too.

For many fans, their love for sports does not fade once they realize how narrow the playing field is for professional athletes. Fortunately, sports fans now have more ways than ever to incorporate their love for sports into day jobs -- and not just as sports commentators or writers.

There are far more employment opportunities in sports today than in years past. With that in mind, we wanted to rank some of the best sports careers non-athletes can pursue. For our list, we used a combination of salary prospects and job growth data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Projections Central.

Marketing Managers

Marketing managers assess market demand for products and services. They also work with sales and development teams to meet those demands and create pricing and promotional materials that reach target audiences. These professionals typically hold a bachelor's degree in marketing or a business-related discipline.

In the sports world, marketing managers usually work in branding, managing the image of a team or organization, enhancing fan interest and involvement, coordinating events, and improving revenue streams. To excel in this field, marketing managers need creativity and analytical and interpersonal skills to help them create and execute cohesive marketing strategies.

Median Annual Salary:

$135,900

Job Growth (2018-2028):

8%

Number of Jobs, 2018:

286,800

Statisticians

Statisticians work with data and mathematical models to help organizations solve practical, real-world problems. They may test theoretical concepts or analyze information to identify overall solutions to issues, or they may tackle analyzing small sections of data in support of a larger project. Most statisticians need a master's degree in mathematics or statistics, though some employers may hire candidates with only a bachelor's degree.

In sports, statisticians can work on the sports performance side, finding new ways of analyzing and improving athletic performance, or they can work on the business side, analyzing industry trends and improving financial processes. In addition to strong mathematical and analytical abilities, these professionals need problem-solving and communication skills. They must also be able to discuss their findings in an understandable, approachable manner.

Median Annual Salary:

$92,030

Job Growth (2018-2028):

30%

Number of Jobs, 2018:

47,300

Physical Therapists

Physical therapists support patients dealing with pain and mobility issues. They work with other medical professionals to develop treatment and rehabilitation plans for people who are recovering from injuries or illnesses, or living with chronic ailments or disabilities. To practice in this profession, physical therapists need a doctorate in physical therapy and a license in their state.

All sports organizations need physical therapists to work with their athletes. These therapists often specialize in treating common sports-related injuries or developing injury prevention plans. These professionals need compassion and empathy to work with patients, resourcefulness to customize individual therapy plans, and the physical stamina to support and demonstrate rehabilitation exercises.

Median Annual Salary:

$89,440

Job Growth (2018-2028):

22%

Number of Jobs, 2018:

247,700

General Managers

General managers oversee the business operations of divisions and departments, often within a larger business or corporation. They may hire personnel, develop company policies, and set organizational goals, all while ensuring that the organization is on track to satisfy those goals. General managers in sports typically need a bachelor's degree, sometimes in sports-related majors, and business experience. Some employers prefer master's degree-holders.

In sports, general managers focus on building a winning team and organization. They oversee scouting, recruiting, and signing for players and manage the coaching staff, development and support teams, and administrative employees. Effective general managers typically need strong leadership, communication, and decision-making skills so they can unite various departments in pursuing the same goals.

Median Annual Salary:

$100,780

Job Growth (2018-2028):

7%

Number of Jobs, 2018:

2,400,280

Sport Psychologists

Psychologists observe people, processes, and brain functions to figure out how they operate and respond within certain environments. They use these observations and assessments to help develop therapy plans to improve people's behaviors. Most sports psychologists need a doctorate in psychology with a sports-related concentration, but some positions may only require a master's degree.

Sports psychologists need to understand the developmental, social, and systemic issues involved in sports, like competitiveness and stamina. They use that knowledge to support athletes and help them overcome issues that may be hindering them from reaching their optimal performance levels. Successful sports psychologists have good interpersonal skills to help them work with patients and strong observational skills, to recognize and evaluate human behaviors.

Median Annual Salary:

$80,370

Job Growth (2018-2028):

14%

Number of Jobs, 2018:

181,700

Sports Agents

Agents represent clients in a variety of fields, including athletics and artistry. They help professionals maneuver through contract negotiations, public relations challenges, and business dealings. Agents can come from a number of backgrounds, but most have a bachelor's degree in a business-related field, like communications or administration.

Sports agents help athletes manage the pathways of their careers. They work with sports organizations to secure financially rewarding contracts for their clients and they negotiate endorsement deals with brands on behalf of their clients. Agents need problem-solving, interpersonal, and communication skills to help them effectively advocate for their clients.

Median Annual Salary:

$73,740

Job Growth (2018-2028):

11%

Number of Jobs, 2018:

17,060

Athletic Trainers

Athletic trainers work with athletes to treat and prevent common sports-related injuries. They often evaluate and provide on-scene care for injuries immediately after they occur. Trainers may also develop rehabilitation treatment plans for athletes to follow. Most athletic trainers need bachelor's degrees in sports-related majors, and some states require additional licensure.

Most professional and amateur sports teams work with athletic trainers to ensure that athletes train, perform, and recover from injuries as safely and effectively as possible. Successful athletic trainers often have strong decision-making and interpersonal skills, which they use to build trusting relationships and navigate emergency situations.

Median Annual Salary:

$48,440

Job Growth (2018-2028):

19%

Number of Jobs, 2018:

31,100

Public Relations Specialists

Public relations specialists create and maintain public images for organizations. This often means overseeing the organization's communications, marketing strategies, and public-facing operations to ensure everything stays on brand. Most employers require candidates to have a bachelor's degree in a subject like communications, public relations, or journalism, though sports-specific organizations may prefer a sports marketing degree.

In the sports world, public relations professionals help promote the interests of teams, athletes, and organizations. For example, they can develop campaigns that build or leverage an athlete's image to boost sales or public interest. In addition to communication skills, these professionals typically need interpersonal, organizational, and problem-solving skills.

Median Annual Salary:

$61,150

Job Growth (2018-2028):

6%

Number of Jobs, 2018:

270,000

Exercise Physiologists

Exercise physiologists assess patient medical histories to develop individualized fitness and exercise programs that improve recovery, flexibility, and performance, both for injury prevention and to treat injuries or chronic issues. Most exercise physiologists only need a bachelor's degree, often in a sports-related major, though some employers may require a master's degree. Some states and industries may also require professional licensure.

Many sports organizations work with exercise physiologists to develop training regimes that prepare their athletes for optimal performance and help them prevent and overcome injuries. To excel, exercise physiologists typically need compassion, physical stamina, and interpersonal skills.

Median Annual Salary:

$49,170

Job Growth (2018-2028):

10%

Number of Jobs, 2018:

15,800

Sporting Event Planners

Event planners organize events from top to bottom. This includes choosing venues and coordinating transportation, food, and entertainment. These planners must also ensure that events stay on schedule and on brand for the host organization, which can mean managing communications and finances related to the event. Typically, event planners need a bachelor's degree for employment. Licensure may also be required.

Event planners need strong organizational, interpersonal, problem-solving, and negotiation skills. Event planners working in sports must understand both athlete clientele and sports-going audiences, and they must build and leverage relationships with sporting facilities, organizations, and charities.

Median Annual Salary:

$50,600

Job Growth (2018-2028):

7%

Number of Jobs, 2018:

134,100

Image Credit: Adene Sanchez | Getty Images

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