Sports Director: Job Description, Salary, Skills in 2024

Sports Director: Job Description, Salary, Skills in 2024

A lot goes behind sports teams, whether they're a high school, college, or professional league. 

Organizations, schools, and recreational facilities require strict supervision of their athletic departments to avoid mistakes, stay on budget, and keep players and staff happy.

From managing the budget and schedule for facility use to hiring coaches and staff, high schools, colleges, and professional teams rely on a sports director to keep the program running like a well-oiled machine.

Whether you're a sports fan just starting your job search or a coach, teacher, or administrator looking to advance your career, becoming a sports manager can be a fun way to further your education, increase your salary, and do something you love.

Sports directors must be meticulous in the execution of their duties, so before you decide that this is the career for you, you should know what it takes to become a sports director. This includes their responsibilities and the skills required to excel in this position.

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What are sports directors and what do they do?

Sports directors wear many hats and are expected to carry out various tasks throughout their day.

A sports director supervises the athletic program of a high school, college, professional team, or recreational facility.

Sports directors are in charge of every aspect of a sports program's inner workings.

This includes hiring and working with coaches, creating a sports schedule template for the staff and leagues, and maintaining the facility and equipment to ensure that it's sanitary and safe for athletes, staff, and the public to use.

An athletic director also has other responsibilities, including the following:

  • Working alongside the coach or sports team manager to schedule practices, games, fundraisers, and other sporting events.

  • Establishing travel arrangements for coaches and teams.

  • Producing and keeping records of team statistics.

  • Working with teachers to determine the eligibility of students to participate in sports.

  • Overseeing the expenses of the athletic department, such as salaries for staff, equipment, events, travel, and facility maintenance, and staying within the predetermined budget.

Additionally, sports directors may need to interact with the parents of high school or college athletes or with the media in the case of college or professional athletes.

Read our related article: Sports general manager. Here’s what you need to know about sports general managers, including responsibilities and how you can get started!

What is the projected job growth for sports director jobs?

‍Research done by Zippia revealed that sports directors are in demand, and the job is an industry expected to grow 7% from 2018 to 2028.

This is good news for anyone looking into getting into the field, though current job availability may change with the economy.

What skills do sports directors need?

‍Aside from having a passion for sports, friendly competition, and people, sports directors need to have various skills at their disposal to be successful in their careers.

1. Communication skills

‍As a sports director, you’ll work with people from different walks of life throughout your day. A sports director needs excellent communication skills and must be quick on their toes when interacting with students, teachers, coaches, parents, and even the media.

If you’re looking into a career as a sports director, communication skills are one of the most important skills you should develop. 

Sports directors should know how to communicate effectively with staff, students, and athletes to maintain a functioning athletic department.

2. Management skills

‍A sports director will need to be able to manage the entire athletic staff and address their needs, direct schedule-making and oversee adjustments and be in charge of the facility itself.

Learning to work under pressure while still keeping everything organized is one of the greatest challenges for sports directors—and one of their most important responsibilities.

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3. Business skills

‍Sports directors should be familiar with the business side of sports and know how to allocate money appropriately, stay within budget, and even help to market their facility or teams via fundraisers and other events.

4. Multitasking skills

‍Sports directors are expected to juggle multiple tasks and should be able to do so effectively. The ability to multitask is necessary for this field.

Knowing how to create a schedule for daily tasks—and sticking to it—should be mastered before pursuing a career as a sports director.

How do you become a sports director?

‍Becoming a sports director requires higher education. If you’re wanting to step foot on this career path then you’ll have to earn a bachelor's degree in physical education, sports management, or education administration.

While a bachelor’s degree can get you in the door, a master's degree in one of these fields is often preferred by employers of sports directors.

5 prior years as a coach, administrator, or teacher is required and would help you succeed as a sports director and allow you to gain experience and develop the skills needed to perform the job effectively.

How much is a sports director's salary?

A sports director's salary depends on the location and demand of the position.

In the United States, the average salary of a sports director is $61,211 a year, according to Zippia statistics. That equates to over $29 an hour.

Sports directors with salaries on the lower end of the spectrum earn as little as $31,000. Sports directors in the top 90th percentile may earn as much as $111,000 or more annually.

The salary for a sports director is largely dependent upon location and can even go as low as $24,500 a year and as high as $156,000, though positions at these rates are outliers in the career.

Read our related article: Sports event coordinator salary. See how much sports coordinators make, their responsibilities, and more in this guide!

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What states have the most sports director jobs?

‍While all states will have positions for sports directors, some states have a greater demand or pay a higher salary.

Below are the top 5 best states for sports directors:

1. Wisconsin

‍According to ZipRecruiter, Wisconsin is the most promising state for aspiring athletic directors. The average salary for athletic directors in Wisconsin is $83,689.

In the lowest 10 percent, an athletic director earns $54,000 annually. Athletic directors that are in the highest 10 percent earn $129,000 a year.

2. Massachusetts

‍Sports directors on the low end of the salary spectrum earn around $52,000, while sports directors on the high end earn upwards of $136,000. In Massachusetts, the average salary for athletic directors is $85,055.

3. California

‍In California, athletic directors in the lowest 10 percent earn $58,000. Those in the highest 10 percent make $156,000 a year.

On average, athletic directors in California can expect to make $95,435 annually.

4. Pennsylvania

‍The average salary for an athletic director in Pennsylvania is $78,384. Athletic directors with salaries in the lowest 10 percent make $48,000 a year. Athletic directors in the highest 10 percent earn up to $125,000 annually.

5. Nevada

‍In Nevada, athletic directors in the lowest 10 percent earn a salary of $51,000. Athletic directors that are in the highest 10 percent make $135,000 a year.

On average, athletic directors earn $83,444 annually.

It’s true that salaries for sports directors are higher in states like California, but the cost of living is also higher compared to other places around the country.

Before you move across state lines to start your career as an athletic director, consider the cost of living to see how far your money will stretch.

Final thoughts

‍A career as a sports director is great for those with a passion for sports and everyone involved. Sports directors can have a fulfilling and rewarding career if they put the work in. That said, this career takes dedication, higher education, and experience to succeed.

Hannah DeMoss has been a professional freelance content writer for nearly a decade. During that time, she has authored hundreds of ghostwritten and published books and articles for clients worldwide. The wife of a professional lacrosse player, Hannah’s free time is often spent as a bleacher-bound cheerleader at practices and games.

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