Last updated on February 13th, 2024 at 01:37 pm

Behind every great athlete or sports team is a qualified agent or manager. Professional teams rely on the expertise of contract negotiators, team accountants, and other financial planning experts to help make the right decisions and keep things running smoothly. While these unsung heroes of the sports world may not spend much (if any) time in the spotlight, they do play a vital role in keeping the game going for athletes and fans alike.

Are you interested in a career as a sports agent or sports finance professional? If so, working in sports management and financial planning may be ideal for you.

What Is Sports Management and Financial Planning?

Sports management and financial planning refers to a growing field of professionals who help sports leagues grow and thrive through innovative, strategic financial management and planning. Sports management careers can include working for professional sports leagues, sports teams, and even individual athletes.

Education Pathways for a Career in Sports Finance

If you’re interested in a career in sports management and financial planning, you should have not only a passion for professional sports, but also a genuine interest in the inner workings of these leagues and teams. It also helps to have an equally strong knack for finance.

Degrees and Certifications to Consider

In the sports industry, most teams looking to hire for sports finance positions seek those with a specific degree or certification demonstrating their expertise. Some of the best contenders for jobs in this field are those who have worked to become certified sports financial advisors (CSFAs) or certified sports agents (CSAs).

Can Self-Study Help Build a Career in Sports Finance?

Interestingly, there are no formal education requirements for those wanting to work in sports finance or management. Individual teams or leagues may set forth their own qualification requirements, but technically, nothing prevents this type of professional from being self-taught.

Still, because it is becoming increasingly common for teams only to hire professionals with a minimum of a four-year degree, self-study is most effective when combined with a formal education. Some self-study options to help you strengthen your knowledge in this field include:

  • Books
  • Research papers
  • Webinars or workshops
  • Mentorship
  • Online communities, forums, and blogs

Exploring Career Options in Sports Management and Finance

Whether you’re interested in working with professional sports leagues and teams directly, in a marketing or sponsorship role, or analytics and statistics, there are numerous potential career paths to consider.

Roles in Sports Teams and Leagues

Professional sports leagues (including the NFL and others) need sports management and financial planning professionals for the following roles:

  • Financial analyst
  • Sports team accountant
  • Revenue strategist
  • Contract negotiator
  • Risk manager

Opportunities in Sports Marketing and Sponsorships

In addition to needing experts to negotiate contracts, manage team finances, and mitigate risk, sports leagues and teams also need marketing and sponsorship experts to help them succeed. These professionals handle tasks from landing endorsement deals to formulating marketing strategies and everything in between. Some positions in this realm include:

  • Sponsorship manager
  • Marketing analyst
  • Brand manager
  • Digital marketing specialist
  • Partner coordinator

Careers in Sports Analytics and Statistics

In addition to marketing and finance in sports, leagues rely on analytics and statistics professionals for things like predicting and maximizing ticket sales. Some standard analytics and statistics roles that are integral to a thriving professional sports league include:

  • Data analyst
  • Statistical modeler
  • Sports performance analyst
  • Business intelligence analyst
  • Data visualization specialist

What Is the Job Outlook in Sports Management and Finance?

If you’re interested in a career in sports management and finance, you’ll be happy to know the job outlook for this type of work is positive. Although exact growth rates will depend on the specific area in which you plan to work, the demand for professionals in many sports management and finance positions is expected to grow in the coming years. 

For example, a 9 percent growth rate is predicted between 2022 and 2032 alone for coaches and scouts, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. For financial analysts, this field is expected to grow by 8 percent. That’s faster than the national average for all other occupations. Meanwhile, the demand for financial managers is projected to grow by a whopping 16 percent in that same time frame.

Current Trends Influencing Job Prospects

Why do job prospects for sports management and financial planning professionals look so promising? There are numerous factors at play here, but perhaps most notable is the overall growth of the sports market across the globe. Research has found that the global sports industry has an average annual growth rate of more than 5 percent, with an increase of more than $25 billion in economic value between 2022 and 2023.

How Technology Is Shaping the Future of Sports Finance

If you’re interested in sports finance, be prepared to work with some innovative technologies. While some of these may still be relatively new to the market, they have already significantly impacted the financial world and how professionals do their jobs. For instance, consider the effects artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have already had on the industry. We’ve also seen some incredible advancements with augmented reality in sports and advanced analytical tools that can help with financial forecasting and financial planning for professional athletes.

Salaries in Sports Management and Finance: What to Expect

Many factors will influence a person’s salary in a sports management and financial planning position, but there are a few to keep in mind.

Entry-Level vs. Experienced Professional Salaries

First, understand that experience plays a major role here. An entry-level position is ideal for those who have recently completed formal education or certification. However, it will pay less than a higher-level position with more required experience. For example, a beginning recreation worker in sports might make about $31,000 per year to start. However, sports advertising managers may earn around $60,000 annually for an entry-level position, and the top 10 percent earn more than $239,000 per year (according to BLS data).

How Bonuses and Benefits Add to the Compensation Package

Some sports management and financial planning professionals may also receive bonuses based on their own performance and the team’s performance. In some cases, a person’s earnings may be heavily tied to their bonuses, so this is something to consider regarding compensation and earnings.

How to Secure a Position in Sports Management and Finance

If you want to work in sports management or finance, keep in mind the following to help you get your foot in the door.

Building Relevant Skills and Networking

First, understand that this type of work ultimately concerns who you know. Yes, you need the technical qualifications to do your job well, but getting started in the field often begins with networking. Make sure you have a solid presence on sites like LinkedIn, and go out of your way to connect with professionals in your chosen specialization.

Importance of Internships and On-the-Job Experience

Many people who go on to work in more prominent sports leagues and on professional teams start as interns, so don’t underestimate the power of an excellent internship opportunity. Even if it doesn’t pay well (or is unpaid), interning for a season can help you get your foot in the door.

How to Stay Updated in the Evolving World of Sports Finance

The world of sports management is constantly changing and evolving, so make sure you’re up to speed to remain competitive. You can do this by attending conferences and other industry events as well as keeping up with your professional connections.

Is a Career in Sports Management and Financial Planning Right for You?

Ultimately, you may be well-suited for a career in sports management if you have a passion for sports and the more technical aspects of running a successful team or league.Want to prepare yourself for this exciting, dynamic field? A Bachelor of Business Administration in Sports & Recreation Management from Salem University is a great place to start. In this program, you could learn about different sports management principles, the structure of the sports industry, and the multifaceted details involved in planning and financing sports operations. Discover more about this unique degree program by contacting Salem University today!

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