Professional Basketball Coach Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for professional basketball coaches. Get the facts about education and training requirements, necessary experience, and salary information to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Athletic Coaching degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Professional Basketball Coach?

Professional basketball coaches teach professional basketball players the skills they need to succeed on the court. Most professional basketball coaches have demonstrated a winning record as an assistant or head coach at the college or professional level. Professional basketball coaches run practices, recruit players and call plays during games. These coaches often analyze the strengths and weaknesses of their team as well as those of their opponents. Professional basketball coaches evaluate and keep track of individual performance and create plays that take advantage of their players' strengths. They often oversee a team of assistant coaches. The following chart gives you an overview about entering this field.

Degree Required No minimum requirement, though a bachelor's degree is helpful
Education Field of Study Physical education, exercise science, kinesiology
Experience Required Prior experience as an assistant or head coach, winning track record, helpful to have played professionally
Mean Salary (2014-2015) $3.05 million for NBA coaches*

Source: *CBS Sports

What Education Do I Need to Become a Professional Basketball Coach?

Although there is no minimum education requirement to become a professional basketball coach, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) states that many coaches start their careers at the high school or collegiate level (www.bls.gov). A bachelor's degree may be required for these positions.

Coaching-related bachelor's degree programs include physical education or exercise science. You'll complete coursework in lifetime fitness and wellness, anatomy and physiology, motor development and kinesiology. You may also learn about a sport's history, rules and strategies. Physical education programs also include a semester-long teaching assignment at a nearby elementary or secondary school.

What About Experience?

Many professional basketball coaches begin working their way up the ranks by taking jobs as assistant coaches, according to the BLS. They may also gain experience as head coaches at smaller schools or programs before moving on to bigger and better opportunities. The BLS states that to advance in the field you'll need a winning record; although, a successful playing career may also help.

What Salary Could I Earn as a College Coach?

The salary for a collegiate basketball coach varies widely according to the size and success of a school's program. For example, of the 65 teams making the men's National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament in 2014, the highest earning coach made roughly $9.6 million dollars for the 2013-2014 season. The lowest earning coach made around $171,000 in the same year, according to USA Today.

How Much Could I Earn in a Professional League?

Compensation for a professional basketball coach may vary based upon the league. Forbes.com reported in 2013 that National Basketball Association (NBA) coaches only occupied two of the top ten spots in all of sports for highest-paid coaches. According to a report from CBSSports.com, their average salary for the 2014-2015 season was around $3.05 million. Professional basketball coaches may also work for the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) or the NBA's Developmental League.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Umpires, referees, and other sports officials are related sports positions that only require a high school diploma or equivalent. These officials oversee sporting events to ensure that rules are followed and players are safe. Athletic trainers, dietitians and nutritionists are also related careers, but require a bachelor's degree. Athletic trainers also work with athletes, but treat injuries and use various techniques to prevent injuries. Dietitians and nutritionists help clients, which can include athletes, obtain a healthier lifestyle through proper nutrition. They may teach clients how to use food to manage illness or to reach a particular health or fitness goal.

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