The sports industry offers employment opportunities for a host of professions. In terms of salaries, most of the focus revolves around the athletes and the sometimes astronomical amounts of money they earn annually. Everyone knows, or can easily find out, what LeBron James earns. Most times a professional coach or athlete is hired, their contracts are disclosed to the public. But what about the other professionals in sport-related careers? The annual salaries or contract numbers of public relations managers or physical therapist are not usually disclosed and never make the headlines.
So for those interested in pursuing a career in sports, and those who are not athletes, which professions are the most lucrative? This article lists the ten highest paying jobs in the sports industry. The professions are ranked according to their median annual salary. The median salaries of the listed professions were obtained from CareerCast which is a California based career website that ranks the best and worst jobs according to a variety of measures. While many dream of a career in sports, being an athlete is only an option for a few. For those who still want to pursue a career in sports, these ten professions offer the greatest financial reward in the sports industry.
10. Coach – Median salary: $28,000
Number ten on this list is the profession of coach or team manager. When most people think of the salary of coaches, they may think of Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots or Doc Rivers of the Los Angeles Clippers, both of whom make in excess of $7 million a year. While coaches at the pinnacle of their professions get paid handsomely, coaches at lower levels do not. High school coaches earn a tiny fraction of what professional coaches earn. In addition, coaches at the high school level may not even be employed full time. Some may even be coaching on a voluntary basis.
9. Photojournalist – Median salary: $29,000
Next on the list are photojournalists. According to CareerCast, the median salary for photojournalists is $29,000 a year. Many sports organizations hire their own staff photographers. The role of a photojournalist includes the collecting, editing, and presenting of news material for publication or broadcast. Photojournalism is now usually understood to refer only to still images, but in some cases the term also refers to video used in broadcast journalism. The decline of newspapers and other print media have also resulted in a decline in photojournalism and the salary of those in the profession.
8. Broadcaster – Median salary: $36,000
Surprisingly the position of a sports broadcaster is only number eight on this list with a median salary of $36,000. There is a huge income disparity between prominent national broadcasters and those who cover local sporting events. Broadcasters on SportsCenter or other nationally televised shows may in some cases earn salaries that are comparable to the athletes they cover. Indeed, many retired athletes enter the profession and earn large salaries. However, the vast majority of broadcasters report on local events and get paid a low per-game stipend.
T6. Event Coordinator – Median Salary: $45,000
Event coordinators take care of seating, security, media, and many other behind the scenes necessities of sporting events. Their work earns them a median salary of $45,000 annually. Event coordinating encompasses many tasks including budgeting, establishing dates and alternate dates, selecting and reserving the event site, acquiring permits (alcohol permits, insurance licenses, etc), and coordinating transportation and parking. An event coordinator could also be responsible for coordinating location support such as electricity and other utilities. The 2013 Super Bowl had a power outage in the second half of the game and this mishap probably was within purview of the event coordinators.
T6. Advertising Account Executive – Median Salary: $45,000
The median salary of an advertising account executive is the same as that of an event coordinator. An advertising account executive is an employee of an advertising agency who acts as the main link between one or more clients and the rest of the agency. The executive is primarily responsible for the daily running of one or more clients’ advertising campaigns. Not surprisingly sporting events offer some of the top opportunities in advertising.
5. Public Relations Manager – Median Salary: $58,000
Most athletes and sport franchises are concerned with their public image. Their concern regarding their image is to insure that their best qualities are presented to the public or sponsors. A public relations manager controls and manages the spread of information between an individual or an organization and the general public. The role of public relations professionals is changing because of the shift from traditional to online and social media. Many public relations professionals are finding it necessary to adapt and learn new skills and to examine how social media can impact a brand’s reputation
4. Agent – Median Salary: $65,000
The primary role of a sports agent is to negotiate contracts and endorsement deals for athletes and coaches. Agents also are the primary link between the players and the teams they play for. Some of the more prominent agents have great influence on the athletes they represent and are often feared by teams due to their negotiation tactics. Sports agents generally receive between 4% and 10% of the athlete’s playing contract, and 10% to 20% of the athlete’s endorsement contract, although these figures vary between sports. At the pinnacle of the profession, there are agents such as Scott Boras and Arn Tellem who represent a great many prominent athletes and earn much more than the median salary of $65,000.
3. Sport Psychologist – Median Salary: $69,000
Sports teams are increasingly hiring sports psychologists to their staffs. Sports psychologists primarily focus on mental preparation for top performance. Sport psychology is a interdisciplinary science that draws on knowledge from the fields of kinesiology and psychology. It involves the study of how psychological factors affect performance and how participation in sport and exercise affect psychological and physical factors. Sport psychology may include work with athletes and coaches regarding injury, rehabilitation, communication, team building, and career transitions. Recently, the England Football team hired the sports psychologist from Liverpool who Steven Gerrard credits with helping him throughout his rehabilitation from a groin injury and who Jordan Henderson credits with helping him cope with the pressure of playing for a big club such as Liverpool.
2. Statistician – Median Salary: $73,000
A recent trend in sports is the growing importance of analytics. Teams are moving away from the traditional ‘eye test’ and basing more and more of their decisions on statistics. This movement towards statistically based decisions is most apparent in baseball but has increasingly become commonplace in basketball and football. An illustration of how prominent analytics has become in sports is the growing influence and popularity of the MIT Sloan Conference on Sports Analytics which started in 2006. Given the prominence of statistical analysis in the decision making process it is no wonder that statisticians are amongst the highest paid professions in the sports world.
1. Physical Therapist – Median Salary: $76,000
The highest paying profession in the sports world is that of a physical therapist with a median salary of $76,000 a year. Most, if not all, professional teams employ physical therapists. Physiotherapy is primarily concerned with the remediation of impairments and disabilities and the promotion of mobility, functional ability, quality of life and movement potential through examination, evaluation, diagnosis and physical intervention. Not only do physical therapists receive employment from teams, they can also branch out and establish their own private practices.