Athletic Director Certification and Classes

An athletic director oversees sports programs at a high school or college. Find out about the education you'll need to become an athletic director at each level, and get information on certification. Schools offering Education - Sports Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

In order to earn certification, athletic directors need to earn a bachelor's degree in sports management. Some jobs may require a graduate degree as well. Some of the classes offered in these programs cover subjects such as sport marketing, sport compliance, sports and society, and management of sports organizations.

Certification Voluntary certification through the NIAAA certification program for athletic administrators
Degrees Bachelor of Science in Sports Management
Courses Management of Sports Organizations, Sport Compliance, Sport Governance, Sport and Society, Sport Marketing, Facility and Event Management

What Kind of Certification Will I Need?

Certification requirements vary from school to school, with certification more commonly required at the university level. Even when not required, it can sometimes enhance your chances of obtaining a job, or lead to better job prospects.

The National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) provides certification information, including study guides and workshops for those about to take their exams. The certification exam through NIAAA covers such topics as:

  • General health and safety
  • Fundraising
  • Budget
  • Boosters

A fee is associated with the certification application process.

Which Degrees Should I Earn if I Want to Become a High School Athletic Director?

Athletic directors who work in high schools need a bachelor's degree. A common field is sports management, but you might also consider a degree in physical education and health, sports medicine, or another related field.

Some high school athletic directors begin as teachers. Schools looking for an athletic director who also teaches courses will require their AD to maintain his or her teaching certification. Teacher requirements vary by state, but expect to earn at least a bachelor's in an education-based program. For example, you might earn a bachelor's degree in physical education, where you would take classes in how to teach sports, among others.

Those interested in an advanced degree might wish to pursue one in educational leadership.

What Kinds of Classes Will I Take?

As part of the study in a Bachelor of Science in Sports Management program, students take general requirements including liberal arts and business courses to encourage a well-rounded education. Some programs may include internships or experiential learning opportunities to help students gain hands-on experience. Courses and classes in sports management programs include such subjects as:

  • Sports marketing
  • Brand management
  • Sports, ethics and society
  • Sport facilities management
  • Sales within the sports industry
  • An introduction into concepts in sports management

Which Degrees Should I Earn If I Want to Work at the University Level?

Many athletic directors at the university level have experience as coaches. In order to move into the director position, they are generally expected to have a bachelor's and sometimes a graduate degree, usually in sports management or a related field. Courses at the graduate level might include everything from sports marketing to organization management. Common topics include:

  • Legal considerations surrounding athletics
  • Leadership skills
  • Public relations
  • Sports and media
  • Fundraising
  • Financial management
  • Sports issues

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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