Managing a sporting event is a huge, complicated undertaking, and the training you can get in sports management degree programs can prepare you to manage everything from college soccer games to the Superbowl.
The key to being a good sports event manager isn’t knowing the game incredibly well, or being an ace bookkeeper, it is being able to keep all the little pieces in your head at once, and knowing how to delegate tasks and motivate your workers to keep with a tight schedule while planning an event with tons of moving parts that could malfunction at any moment. Below are the top skills you’ll need as a sports event manager.
If sports event management is the job of your dreams, a business degree in sports management or athletic administration is the best educational path for you. There are several types of degree that will prepare you for this career, although you’ll still have to get years of experience before you’re put in charge of a major professional event. Below is a list of widely available classes you should definitely take during your sports management program if you plan to pursue an event management career.
Event management skills can be put to use in a broad variety of fields. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics does not gather salary data pertaining only to sports event managers, but they do collect this data for a broad category of meeting and convention planners. According to The BLS:
Below is a chart of mean wages for meeting, convention, and event planners from The Bureau of Labor Statistics:
While there is no legal requirement for sports event managers to have a license or certificate to practice their trade, there are credentials that can make applicants more appealing to employers.
The Convention Industry Council offers a credential called the Certified Meeting Professional, which is considered the industry standard certification for convention planners. While not directly related to the sporting industry, a CMP shows a level of competence in the skills it takes to plan large events that will serve any sports event manager well in his or her career.
Though certifications and credentials may look good on a resume, workers who are willing to grow their responsibility, take on greater challenges, and throw themselves into their work as sports event managers are the ones who will really shine in the occupation. No certification is more valuable than a strong willingness to work hard and make big decisions and sacrifices for the benefit of your career.
Other than getting your degree and pursuing ever more challenging positions in the professional realm, there are a few ways you can open up new opportunities for yourself and make new connections in the sports event management industry
Going to conventions is a great way to network and get your name in the right peoples’ ears. There is an annual event called the International Sports Event Management Conference where you can meet professionals in the field and make connections that could lead directly to a better job in the future. Panels of speakers speak on the latest innovations and best practices in the industry, but the new knowledge you gain is just an added bonus to the social and professional connections you can make.
Ask your professors or even fellow students about sports management related seminars and online social networks, because networking is one of the best ways to find your way in this industry. A combination of professionalism and great interpersonal skills will be your greatest asset as you seek to rise in the ranks of sports event managers.
Sports event management is an extremely demanding and competitive field. Even if you have great skills and experience, expect keen competition for top tier jobs. You will likely have to work more than 40 hours per week, though there may be an off-season where you have much less work to do for a period of weeks or months.
A degree in athletic administration does not guarantee you a job at all, and definitely doesn’t guarantee you a job in event planning or management. You’ll have to work incredibly hard throughout college, and for years afterward, before you get to a position with enough power that you can delegate tasks and give yourself a little more breathing room. This career path is not for the faint of heart, and should only be considered by those who are seriously passionate about the intersection of business, sports, and event planning.
If you’re still dedicated to pursuing a career in sports event management, check out the schools listed below, which offer some of the top accredited degrees in sports management and athletic administration.
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