Not everyone can be a professional athlete, but a degree in sports management can prepare graduates for administrative work in the sports industry; actively managing, assisting, or representing athletes at all levels.

Sports management is a highly specialized form of business management. Sports managers must have a working knowledge of the way sports organizations operate, and often advanced knowledge of one or two sports in particular. Sports managers can find employment in administration, public relations, marketing, or any number of other business occupations as they pertain to sports.

Likewise, most people are not gifted with the looks or talent to make it in the entertainment industry, but the stars that grace the silver screen and our televisions represent a small fraction of the industry. Producers, publicists, market analysts, agents, and financial experts are responsible for the huge paychecks and national exposure that make our stars rich and famous. Movie studios, TV networks, and record labels are built by the sweat of the businessmen and women that manage their daily operations.

Sports and Entertainment Management Career Opportunities

Related Careers: Sports and Entertainment Managers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, career opportunities within the entire business management field are expected to be favorable.

The Occupational Information Network (O*NET), a resource of the Department of Labor's Employment & Training Administration, reports that there were 23,000 agents and business managers of artists, performers, and athletes in 2008. Occupations in the field are expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations – over 20%.

The Occupational Information Network predicts there will be a total of 10,100 openings from 2008 to 2018; that figure includes jobs added by occupational growth and existing positions vacated by retirement, career change, early termination, etc.

Sports and Entertainment Management Earnings

Earnings for sports and entertainment managers vary widely by employee experience and education, and employer industry and location.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, sports and entertainment managers made median annual wages of $62,940 in 2008. The middle 50% of the field made between $38,520 and $100,280, while the bottom 10% made less than $27,810 and the top 10% made more than $166,400 annually.

Sports and entertainment managers made median wages of $62,940 in 2008.Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

According to, average annual wages for sports and entertainment management personnel were:

  • $26k to $28k for production assistants
  • $42k to $61k for special events managers
  • $56k to $69k for media program directors
  • $65k to $78k for media operations managers
  • $74k to 131k for athletic directors at major colleges

This is by no means a complete list of career opportunities; it is merely a cross-section of some careers unique to the sports and entertainment management industry.

Sports and Entertainment Management Education Benefits

Sports and entertainment is, first and foremost, a business. This can be easy to forget when we are being constantly bombarded by only the commercialized, final products that these industries produce. The Super Bowl happens once a year, but it is in production for the entire year. Venues, performers, vendors, and advertisers all work 365 days a year to produce that single event. The same applies to concert tours, movies, TV programs, sports drafts, and worldwide competitions like the Olympics. It takes sports and entertainment service managers months, if not years to put these memorable events together.

For this reason, degrees in business and business administration are invaluable to the men and women who choose sports and entertainment management as a career. Without prior experience, a degree will most often be necessary to even get a candidate's foot in the door. Bachelor's degrees are the norm in the industry and the skills and knowledge garnered are invaluable to the successful businessman. Due to the rapid expansion of the industry, specialized degree programs focused on sports and entertainment are becoming more widely available, tailoring their curriculums to the specific skill sets most important to these businessmen and women. Advanced degrees are also emerging, especially in schools with strong sports traditions like the Universities of Texas and Florida; but strong work experience still proves more valuable than graduate degrees in this field.

According to the Occupational Information Network, 59% of sports and entertainment managers and agents have a bachelor's degree or higher. 23% have some college education, including sports and entertainment management associate's degrees; the remaining 18% have no formal postsecondary education.

59% of sports and entertainment managers and agents have a bachelor's degree or higher.Source: Occupational Information Network

Sports and Entertainment Management Programs Online

Degrees Possible: Certificate, Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral Degrees

Degrees in sports entertainment, ranging from associate's to master's degrees, are available to the online learner. As with any online learning institution, it is important to do thorough research about the institution in which you are considering enrollment. Check to see if the school is accredited, if it offers job placement assistance, and what graduates are saying about it before enrolling in a sports or entertainment management program of any degree level.

That being said, online learning is an excellent option for those trying to break into a career in sports or entertainment management. Internships in the industry are plentiful and experience is just as, if not more, valued as academic credentials. The opportunity to simultaneously gain work experience through a full-time job or internship and earn a degree is a huge benefit to online learners.

Sports and Entertainment Management Skills and Abilities

Sports managers must possess a number of unique abilities aside from general management knowledge. Good communication skills are important in a field heavy with social interaction and networking. Being able to convey ideas quickly, concisely, and persuasively are among the most valuable assets a candidate can possess.

These careers also require vision, ambition, and initiative. The sports and entertainment industries are fast-paced and often cutthroat, so success depends on a candidate's ability to remain motivated and prepared to hit the ground running with every opportunity. Good on-the-fly decision making skills are also important because of the fast-paced environment: there may not be time to collaborate on every issue, so businessmen and women in this field must be able to trust their instincts.

Sports and Entertainment Management Qualification and Advancement

A bachelor's degree in sports and entertainment management or a related business field is generally required for entry-level positions as Sports and Entertainment Managers and Agents.

Because these positions are attractive to many candidates, many managers and agents must earn master's degrees to qualify for elite positions.