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Athletic Director: Job Description and Career Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an athletic director. Get a quick view of the degree requirements as well as details about the career outlook and job description to find out if this is the career for you.

Athletic directors need to have a bachelor's or master's degree in physical education, education administration or sports management to enter this field. Salaries and job prospects vary depending on whether the athletic director works in the postsecondary school system or with children in elementary, middle or high school. Teaching certification may also be required.

Essential Information

Athletic directors manage sport programs and departments for colleges, universities and secondary schools. Athletic directors must have at least a bachelor's degree, but often a master's degree is required. Experience as a coach or teacher or experience in sports management may also be required.

Required Education A bachelor's or master's degree in physical education, education administration or sports management
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% for elementary, middle and secondary school principals; 9% for postsecondary education administrators
Median Annual Salary (May 2015)* $90,410 for education administrators in elementary and secondary schools; $88,580 for postsecondary education administrators

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Athletic Director Job Description

Athletic directors direct athletic activities, supervise the coordination of athletic events and manage athletic department budgets at secondary and postsecondary schools. Outside of these requirements, athletic directors may also participate in revenue development planning and fundraising. Additionally, these professionals serve as liaisons with sports conference or division administrators, such as those from the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Athletic directors may also be in charge of hiring and firing coaches. To do so, these professionals assess current and prospective coaches based on team goals, achievements and other parameters.

Career Information for an Athletic Director

Most schools require athletic directors to have master's degrees in a field like physical education, education administration or sports management. As such, specific coursework and concentrations vary by major. For example, while students in physical education degree programs may take courses on education theory, instructional supervision and kinesiology, those in sports management may focus more on financial, marketing and facility management courses.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies athletic directors under the broader categories of elementary and secondary and postsecondary (college) education administrators. The BLS reported that jobs for postsecondary education administrators were expected to increase by 9% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). Employment of elementary, middle and secondary school principals was expected to increase 6% during the same time frame, according to the BLS.

Salary Information

The BLS noted that the median annual salary for postsecondary education administrators, including college athletic directors, was $88,580 in 2015. In the same year, elementary and secondary education administrators, including high school athletic directors, earned a median salary of $90,410 annually, per BLS reports.

The job prospects for athletic directors are currently strongest in postsecondary institutions. Applicants will need to have a bachelor's or master's degree, as well as coaching experience. To increase job prospects applicants can participate in volunteer coaching and complete national coaching credentials.

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