How to Become a Sports Manager: Career Advice & Information

Overview & Salaries


The term ‘sports management’ can refer to a number of jobs, but this page is about the agents who represent professional or college athletes. They negotiate athletes’ contracts with sports teams, trying to obtain the best possible deal, and also negotiate endorsement deals with companies looking for an athlete to promote their product. They also give advice to athletes about financial, personal or reputational issues that may affect them on or off the field.


Annual salaries for sports managers will vary depending on your experience, education level, and expertise. In 2013, the average annual salary for managers of artists, performers and athletes (a category including sports managers) working in the U.S. was $96,410 per year.

For more information on what parts of the country have the most opportunity for sports managers, click through to our Best Places to Work tab for information on the number of people employed and the average salary in each state.

Discover the Best Cities and States to Work in Sports Management

California leads the nation in employment for agents representing artists, performers, and athletes, with 4,040 agents and managers making an average yearly salary of $127,930. New York State is second in employment, with 2,270 agents and managers working in the state with an average salary of $101,680.

Employment and Salary Information for Sports Managers

Use our interactive map below to find out which areas of the United States are currently experiencing the greatest amount of growth and job availability for graduates looking for a career in sports management. The associated information has been gathered from Bureau of Labor statistics, representing data collected in 2012.

Why Become A Sports Manager?

Many of these perks are self-explanatory. But here they are:

  • Good pay. An average of $96,410 per year.
  • Real upside. A small number of sports managers who represent superstar players can make much, much more than the average.
  • Get paid to know sports. There aren’t many jobs like that.
  • Hang out with sports stars. They’re your clients, after all.
  • Drive hard bargains. Most jobs require negotiation skills in some form or other. But in sports management, you depend on your bargaining abilities to get the job done.

Sports Management: What You Need To Know

A sports manager has to know sports backwards. For example, an agent representing basketball players  has to know which teams are seeking which kinds of players, what teams’ strategies are, which coaches are well-placed to develop their players, and what teams can afford to spend. Sports managers also need the negotiation and communication skills to close deals.

A working knowledge of these skill sets will help to set you apart from other candidates:

  • Knowledge of Sports and Markets
  • Client Management
  • Negotiation
  • Leadership
  • Communication

Feel like you’ve got a lot to learn? Get more information about sports management careers, degrees, and applicable courses from one of the schools below.

Degree Options for Sports Management Careers

On-the-job training / Other experience

There are a number of ways to advance into sports management roles. Some agencies seek out former athletes in the sport to represent other athletes in that sport. Others may look for people with advanced knowledge of a specific sport. Still others will find talented people who take entry-level positions or internships within agencies and show outstanding negotiation and communications skills.

Bachelor’s / Master’s degree

Many sports teams and agencies require a bachelor’s degree in sports management. Some may even require, or be impressed by, a master’s degree in sports management, business administration, law, or marketing.