How Can I Become an Athletic Director?

Research what it takes to become an athletic director. Learn about education requirements, key responsibilities, job outlook and potential salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Education - Sports Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does an Athletic Director Do?

An athletic director is an administrator who oversees sports programs at either the high school or college levels. Athletic directors work primarily out of an office, completing tasks like budgeting, managing a staff, recruiting potential athletes and fund-raising; however, they spend time working directly with coaches and athletes as well. They ensure that the equipment and facilities such as weight rooms are maintained. Athletic directors manage the players' records to ensure everything is up to date. They mentor and support students with their academics and athletics. In addition, they hire and support coaches.

If this career appeals to you, read on for an outline of important information.

Education Required Bachelor's degree; master's degree preferred at collegiate level
Field of Study Sports management, physical education or related field
Key Responsibilities Oversee employees of secondary or post-secondary athletic department, recruit athletes, develop marketing and fundraising strategies, and coordinate athletic events
Job Growth (2014-2024) 9% for all post-secondary education administrators*
Median Salary (2016) $59,068**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

What Is an Athletic Director?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an athletic director is an administrator who operates the athletic program at an institution of learning ( This job exists at both the high school and college levels, and its holder reports to the principal or president of the school. As an athletic director, your job responsibilities include hiring coaches and recruiting students to play on the teams. You're also in charge of budget planning and management, and you create public relations campaigns to solicit fundraising donations from alumni and advertise sporting activities.

Education Requirements

Although some employers may only ask for candidates to have a bachelor's degree, many job listings on the website of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics required potential employees to hold a master's degree as of 2011 ( The BLS also notes that education administrators at this level most often need to hold a master's degree.

Before you are accepted into a master's degree program, you must first acquire a bachelor's degree. Some graduate programs don't specify a necessary undergraduate field of study, but you may wish to major in education, kinesiology, movement science, sports administration or a related field. Then you can pursue a master's degree in sports managements or education with a sport administration emphasis; you can complete these on campus or sometimes online in about two years. You might take courses in facility and event management, legal and ethical issues, fiscal management, leadership skills and problem solving. You can also gain experience in the sports industry by completing an internship.

What Other Skills Do I Need?

Because you are managing personnel, strong communication and leadership skills are essential. You must also be able to work well with a diverse group of people. One job duty of an athletic director is presenting at fundraising and other promotional events. You must be a strong public speaker and have the ability to put together presentation materials. Many employers also require you to have some experience as a coach.

Play By the Rules

High school and college sports programs operate under strict rules and regulations. If you violate a rule because you are not familiar with them or you are not committed to ethical standards, your teams could be declared ineligible and will be prohibited from participating in games and other events. The National Collegiate Athletic Association creates and enforces rules and regulations at the college level. At the high school level, each state has its own athletic association that deals with the eligibility of teams.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are interested in careers that are similar to an athletic director you may be interested in becoming an athletic trainer or a public relations and fundraising manager. An athletic trainer works with athletes to prevent, diagnose, and treat injuries. They must be able to give emergency treatment and follow up with injury reports. Public relations managers help to maintain the public image of the client they are working for, while fundraising managers help raise money for the organization they are working with. These career options all require a bachelor's degree.

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:

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