Top 5 Sports and Recreation Management Jobs That Pay

Top 5 Sports and Recreation Management Jobs That Pay

A career in sports and recreation management can be a fulfilling and exciting option for those with a passion for sports or a knack for the business aspect of the sports world. 

While it's not necessarily needed to enter the field, a bachelor's degree in sports and recreation management can provide you with the skills for a vast array of opportunities related to the industry.

In fact, the type of curriculum one will encounter throughout their schooling will include that of sports, business, health and wellness.

These relatable skills often make it easier for career path transitions, as well.

As a multi-billion dollar industry, sports and recreation management jobs come with a lot of responsibilities and often include working long, irregular hours.

However, both specialized and broader career opportunities make for positions suitable for many different personality types.

People who venture into sports management often find jobs in sports marketing, broadcasting, contract negotiation, managing finances and much more.

In the recreation industry, one might find themselves in a position as a recreation and parks director, an event coordinator, or oversee ticket sales.

With the field seeing rapid growth over recent years, including the addition of esports valued as a billion dollar industry in 2021, the possibilities are endless. 

So whether you have prospects of working with a professional or collegiate level sports team, or with one of your local recreation programs, we have compiled a list of the top 5 sports and recreation management jobs that pay well so you can have a better idea of what might spark your interest.

1. Athletic Director

Athletic directors manage the overall operations of sports teams and programs.

Average base salary: $63,774

A career as an athletic director can be a great position for someone interested in managing the overall operations of athletics programs and sports teams.

They play a pivotal role often times away from the ground level and spotlight of coaches and athletes. 

Athletic directors' duties include managing budgets, coordinating across other leagues and teams, and the training and hiring of coaches and other personnel.

Some valuable skills to have in this position are strong leadership skills, knowledge of athletic laws and regulations, and a willingness to travel.

Here are some common duties and responsibilities for athletic directors:

  • Preparing reports on performance across teams and league

  • Coordinating and scheduling

  • Ensuring compliance with policies and laws

  • Mediating

  • Budgeting and allocating funds

  • Oversee purchases and maintenance

A position as an athletic director is usually a career that will call for at least 2 years of relatable work experience coupled with a bachelor's degree.

Sports directors in higher education often times can command a salary within the six figure range, making it a great career path.

A master's degree is also preferred if seeking this role at a collegiate level or higher.

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2. Recreation Manager

Average base salary: $57,569

Recreation management deals with the leadership, organization, and planning of recreational activities within a community or recreational facility.

This job requires exceptional organizational and communication skills, as you must oversee various programs and activities within your recreation center. 

People skills are very helpful in this role as a recreation manager will often times provide activities for both children, adults, and the elderly.

They must have the ability to manage daily operations and also coordinate special events.

Here are some common duties and responsibilities of recreation managers:

  • Working with staff to ensure cleanliness and safety

  • Maintaining registration and contact information

  • Direct customer service to participants

  • Managing budget and revenue

  • Planning and organizing events

  • Creating individualized activities

  • Staffing

A role as a recreation manager encompasses many general tasks as well as knowledge of more specific requirements. 

A bachelor's degree is not necessary but can helpful in gaining experience with the more technical aspects of the job.

This can be one of the more fulfilling careers if you enjoy helping your local community and providing a safe environment for fitness and physical education.

The salary can vary greatly depending on the size and location of the organization, with the top 10% earning $152,000.

3. Sports Agent

A sports agent helps athletes advance their careers.

Average base salary: $57,198 (excluding bonuses and profit sharing)

A career as a sports agent can be an exciting and rewarding career path.

With a passion for sports and the drive to help athletes progress their professional careers, one can find great satisfaction in this fast-paced environment.

As a sports agent, you will help professional athletes within promotion to the likes of teams, sponsors, and advertisers.

You will also provide support during contract negotiations, drafts and trades.

In some cases, a sports agent will also be responsible for managing certain facets of their social media platforms.

Here are some common duties and responsibilities of a sports agent:

  • Negotiate contracts and deals

  • Visit high school games to recruit players

  • Networking

  • Working with various brands for promotional purposes

  • Signing players and deals

  • Managing the finances or investments of their clients

  • Public relations

  • Forming trustworthy relationships with their clients

A job as a sports agent can be an extremely lucrative career.

Depending upon the sport, education, and client base, an agent can make well into the six figure range.

Sports agents can also often work from home or remotely and have access to attractive perks like free tickets to games.

If you have a great communication and sales skills, this may be a great option for you.

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4. Marketing Manager

Average base salary: $96,802

A marketing manager oversees the marketing staff and develops and implements marketing campaigns for their respective team, league, sporting events, or organization.

In doing so, their goal is to increase profits and maintain and promote a healthy image of their sports programs' brand. 

They will usually focus on the increase of viewership, membership, and attendance.

They also maintain ongoing campaigns on social media to elevate brand awareness. 

As a marketing manager you should have exceptional communication skills, analytical thinking, and a creative mindset to set yourself apart from your competition.

Here are some common duties and responsibilities of a marketing manager:

  • Market research

  • Contract negotiations

  • Developing marketing campaigns across various advertising mediums

  • Providing marketing advice

  • Collaborating with other departments

  • Projecting demand for services and products

Being an extremely competitive field, on-job experience such as internships can be helpful in working your way up to a marketing manager position. 

Many people pursue a degree in sports management and go on to work within a marketing department or gain a master's degree.

Marketing managers in Division I sports or professional leagues can expect salaries in the six figure range.

5. Event Coordinator

Event coordinators are responible for sporting events.

Average base salary: $43,399

If you thrive under pressure and enjoy creating the ideal event experience for both fans and players, then this might be the job for you. 

This career also allows for great experience and skill building for higher level positions with relatable responsibilities like an athletic director or recreation manager.

Event coordinators work with vendors and staff to set up venues and oversee correct use of supplies to complete the set up in a timely manner, all while making sure to stay within budget.

Here's a brief look at the sports coordinator job description and responsibilities:

  • Planning event specifics including seating, safety, and layout

  • Developing relationships with vendors

  • Staying within budget

  • Collecting payments

  • Overseeing the event and having plans in place for certain scenarios

  • Knowledge of specific needs for different events

  • Keeping fans in mind for a pleasant experience

Event coordinators have great team management and logistics skills.

In order for the event to run smoothly everything must fall into place.

On top of the responsibilities that come with the job, they often times will do some marketing in the weeks or days leading up to the event. 

A degree is not a requirement for this job but can be helpful.

Pay range can vary pretty significantly depending on experience, but this can be a great starting point in working your way up to a position with more seniority.

Because of the varying levels at which sports are played across the nation, certain jobs can inherently have large salary ranges.

Here are some of the highest paying sports manager salary positions:

  • Account Manager: $54,338

  • Athletic Director: $63,774

  • Sports Agent: $57,198

  • Sports Promoter: $86,620

  • Marketing Manager: $96,802

Read our related article, where we discuss the best entry level jobs in sports management. These jobs are great for getting experience in the field of sports management!

What do you do in Sports Management?

Sports management covers a range of career paths.

Sports management careers have a broad array of responsibilities and therefore allows for many opportunities in more specialized positions—even careers not necessarily associated directly with sports. 

While the sports industry is centered around entertainment, it is a business much like any other industry.

Sports management deals with organizing, planning, budgeting, and overseeing daily operations of sports teams, leagues, organizations, or events.

What jobs can I get with a Sports and Recreation Management Degree?

The possibilities for employment with this degree are wide and this degree can translate well to jobs outside of the sports industry.

Students can usually find employment in operation management roles because it is such a closely related field in the aspect of business-related curriculum. 

The jobs described above are some of the main jobs one would seek with this degree but other options include:

  • Sports camp director

  • Ticket operations

  • Equipment director

  • Resort activities manager

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What majors go well with Sports Management?

‍Besides a sports and recreation management degree, there are many other degrees that can help you enter this field.

Due to the close relation among business and physical health degrees, many people find success in this field and with additional experience.

Some of the other majors that translate well to this field are:

  • Exercise Science

  • Business Administration

  • Operations Management

  • Physical Therapy

  • Athletic Training

  • Physical Education

  • Parks and Recreation

  • Sports Communication

Is Sports Management a good career?

‍Sports management can be a rewarding and exciting career for those that have a passion for sports and interests in the business side of things.

If you have good communication, organization, and leadership skills, this career path could be exactly what you are looking for.

Working for professional sports teams has a lot of great perks, as well.

How do I get a job in Sports Management?

Getting a job in sports management can be somewhat challenging if you are starting with little experience.

That's why it is important to network well and potentially start at a lower-level position and work your way up.

For some jobs in the field, and depending on the level at which the organization operates—whether that is a recreation league, high-school, collegiate, or professional—it is not always necessary to have a degree. 

However, graduates in some types of business or sports program will usually have the upper hand.

Professional teams will usually require a bachelors or masters degree for managerial positions.

If you work hard and network within the field, you'll have a better chance of securing a job in sports management.

Internships, whether you decide to get a degree or not, can be extremely helpful in building experience.

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Is Sports Management a competitive field?

The sports industry is extremely competitive. In the U.S. alone it is a multi-billion dollar industry.

Certain leagues and organizations expect loyalty from their employees and often times you will have responsibilities that may lie outside of your job scope. 

With that being said, the industry shows large growth each year and many careers in the field can be lucrative and exciting.

It shouldn't be hard to find a job for the right person who has the motivation and appliable skills.

Jeff Tipper is an avid sports fan who has a strong passion for basketball. A graduate of the University of New Mexico with a Bachelor's Degree in Operations Management, Jeff has experience in operations and claim processing and spends his free time writing articles and blogs focused on sports and various business topics.

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