How to Become a Football Coach: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn what you need to do to become a football coach. Research the education, career requirements and experience required for starting a career in coaching.

Should I Become a Football Coach?

A football coach leads a team of football players by organizing practices, designing plays and determining a depth chart. While organized football leagues are available at the junior high and high school level, most full-time football coaches find opportunities at the postsecondary and professional levels. Junior high and high schools often hire football coaches who also work as teachers in the school system.

Because football is a team game and extremely physical, football coaches may need to motivate players and inspire team play. They also may need to travel for away games and other sporting events. Coaches usually must work evenings and weekends, when a lot of football games are scheduled.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma or equivalent, bachelor's degree (requirements vary)
Degree Fields Sport coaching education, physical education, exercise and sports science
Licensure or Certification Elementary through high school coaches may require a teaching license
Experience Athletic and assistant coaching experience (required)
Key Skills Understanding of the game, good leader, very detail-oriented, excellent communicators, and physical stamina
Salary $30,640 is the median annual wage for coaches and scouts, though primary and secondary school coaches generally earn more (2014)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Learn About the Game

While not all coaches have the size or skills to play football at the junior high or high school level, it's important for prospective coaches to have a love of the game and follow football at the high school, college or professional level. Learning the basic rules, strategies and technicalities of the game is essential to functioning as an effective coach.

Success Tip

  • Participate in organized football. Playing the game at the high school level is an option for some individuals; however, if an individual is unable to play on a team, opportunities are also available to work as a team manager. This is a chance to be around the game and learn about practices, team camaraderie and pre-game and post-game rituals.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Curriculum in a coaching-related program at the bachelor's degree level will teach students about physical conditioning, sports psychology, injury prevention, nutrition and athletic training. Prospective coaches may benefit from other courses such as leadership, coaching and physical education.

Coaching at the middle and high school level may require prospective coaches to become teachers, which requires a bachelor's degree and teacher certification. To prepare for teacher certification, students typically need to major in a specific subject area, such as math, physical education, English or history. They will also need to complete coursework focused on education and complete a student teaching experience.

Success Tips

  • Gain football experience at the postsecondary level. While a bachelor's degree is a requirement to work as a coach, it's also important for prospective coaches to gain football experience. Many individuals who want to become football coaches are former collegiate players who want to stay in the game. Those who want to become coaches and are not collegiate players, can work as voluntary team managers and assist with practices.

Step 3: Obrain Teaching License

Teaching licensure, also known as teaching certification, is required by all 50 states for individuals who want to teach public school at the K-12 level. An aspiring football coach who wants to work as a teacher at a public middle or high school will need to pass a licensing exam and complete the appropriate teaching experiences and coursework in order to be licensed.

Step 4: Gain Coaching Experience

Football coaches often begin their careers as assistants. While each team has an offensive and defensive coordinator, new coaches will work as position coaches. At the college and professional level, each position has a coach who works with them in practice and in meetings. For example, quarterbacks, linebackers, wide receivers, defensive lineman and running backs all have their own position coach. In order to advance into large collegiate or professional football coaching positions, coaching experience, a winning record and awards are commonly required.

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