With eleven years of experience as an online Sports Management/Sports Coaching Instructor it baffles me daily that students don’t understand the difficulty in obtaining a major college or professional coaching position. Many times in the course introduction students will explain their career currently and what they see themselves doing in the future. Within that explanation it is inevitable that they elude to the desire to coach at the college or professional level upon completion of their degree. Many of these students are currently not working as an educator, coach, or otherwise within the sports world and don’t understand that there are coaches that have been in the profession for many years and have had those same desires. Very few head coaches at the college or professional level jumped right from their college degree program into the position they are in. It takes many of these coaches’ years to even latch on as an assistant in a college or professional organization.
Strong competition is expected for higher paying jobs at the college level and will be even greater for jobs in professional sports. Job prospects at the high school level should be good, but coaching jobs typically go to those teaching in the school. Those who have a degree or are state certified to teach academic subjects, therefore, should have the best prospects for getting coaching and teaching jobs at high schools. The need to replace the amount of high school coaches who change occupations or leave the labor force also will provide some jobs. Coaches in girls’ and women’s sports may have better job opportunities due to a growing number of participants and leagues.
The coaching profession can be very rewarding and certainly comes with its challenges. With that being said, stepping right out of a Bachelor, Master’s, or Doctoral degree program and into a college or professional coaching position would be very difficult. Unless you were a former high profile high school, college, and professional athlete this phenomenon typically does not happen. There are professional athletes that become part of a college coaching staff with an understanding that if they don’t finish their college degree within a certain period of time they will be removed from their position. At the professional level it is a little different. A former professional athlete can step into an assistant or head coaching position, in some cases, without their college degree and do that for years.
The coaching profession is very desirable for many, however, it is just like all other professions in the work force. A person has to start at the bottom and work their way to the top and once they get to the top they have to work that much harder to stay there.
Dr. Bret Simmermacher DSM is the Chair of Sports Coaching at the USSA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
29 MARCH 2016