Strategies For Breaking Into The Sports Industry

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Now that Memorial Day has passed, many recent graduates will set their sights on securing their first job in the sports industry. Whether you are pursuing a job in college coaching or sports administration, the first step is to have a vision for what you want to do for your career.

It really doesn’t matter if you know exactly what you want to do, but you should have a general idea. For example, if you want to coach, which sport do you want to coach? This will determine your initial career path. The same holds true for administration. If you want to work in athletic administration, what area best fits your strengths and interests? Your strategies and career path will be different if you want to pursue a position in compliance versus a career in marketing.

But what happens if you don’t know exactly what you want to do? You just know that you want to work in sports. In this case, you need to gain insight into both yourself and into the sports industry. You will want to get to know your strengths, interests, skills and abilities. You will also want to discover more about the various types of positions that exist in the sports world. Once you have a better feel for the industry, you can determine which area best fits your strengths and interests. To gain this insight, and to break into the sports industry, you should consider the following suggestions:

Conduct an Informational Interview – Gain Insight into the industry by interviewing somebody who already works in the sports industry. I got my start in college sports by interviewing the athletic director at the University of Washington.   His great advice allowed me to develop a plan for my career. This plan included going back to school to study for my master’s degree in sports administration and I also gained experience as a student worker in the ticket office.

Get Your Master’s Degree – Most full-time coaches and sports managers will eventually need their master’s degree in order to advance in the industry. If you don’t currently have your master’s degree, consider going back to college and pursue a degree in sports management. To see a list of schools that offer sports management degree programs, go to the “Sports Management Programs” page on the website

Gain Experience – Whether you’re just starting out in the industry, or you’re looking to advance in the sports field, you need to gain experience and make yourself a valuable commodity. You can gain experience through volunteering within an athletic department, securing an internship, working in an entry-level job, or by becoming active in your professional association (NACDA, NABC, CoSIDA, etc.). If you are interested in coaching, look to begin by working summer camps and being a volunteer assistant (or a graduate assistant). If you are interested in administration, find out if the local college athletic department needs help selling tickets at their sporting events.

Network into a Job – Networking within the industry is ultimately the key to getting a job. Utilize the above suggestions to get to know people within the industry. Stay in touch with the people you meet and build friendships.

Position Yourself – As you gain experience, you will want to work toward positioning yourself as an expert within the industry. To properly position yourself as an expert, you will want to work hard in your current position and do quality work. You will also want to build a strong network within the industry and be active within your professional association. In time, these qualities will brand you in a very positive light within the industry. As an expert, you will have opportunities to advance both within your current organization and within other organizations in the sports industry.

Remember, ultimately the job will go to the candidate who is prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process. In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS!  If you need to learn the fundamental skills of the job search process, check out the book “Getting Hired in College Sports”. It is used by many sports management programs to help provide their students with the job search skills that are necessary for them to compete in the highly competitive sports industry.

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University. He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach. He is also an author of 9 books. Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at or his new book Execute for Success at


Helping You Prepare For Every Aspect Of Your Up Coming Job Search

2nd edition Image

In Getting Hired In College Sports you will discover:

  • The types of jobs that exist in college sports
  • How to plan and navigate your career
  • How to create an effective job search campaign 
  • The proper way to create an effective resume, cover letter, and sales pitch
  • How to properly brand yourself
  • Techniques and strategies to prepare for your interview
  • How to properly prepare yourself for the five types of interview questions 
  • How to properly follow-up after the interview in order to influence the decision of the hiring manager

Only $23.95 Click Here To Purchase 


This is a must have for those looking to get into College Athletics. Great job Howard.

-Michael Volpone
Sports Writer at





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