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.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for coaches and scouts was $31,000 as of 2015.
The requirements to become a football coach vary, but a bachelor's degree in sport coaching education, physical education, or exercise and sports science is often required. If a coach is working at the elementary to high school levels, a teaching license may also be required. Experience in coaching is a requirement for this career, and skills that a person needs include:
- Understanding of the game
- Being a good leader
- Being very detail-oriented
- Being an excellent communicator
- Having physical stamina
Steps to Becoming a Football Coach
Here are four steps to take to become a football coach.
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.
You should aim to participate in organized football. Playing the game at the high school level may be an option; but if it is not, 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 a bachelor's degree level will teach you about physical conditioning, sports psychology, injury prevention, nutrition and athletic training. You may also benefit from other courses in leadership, coaching and physical education.
Coaching at the middle and high school level may require you to become a teacher, which requires a bachelor's degree and teacher certification. To prepare for teacher certification, you typically need to major in a specific subject area, such as math, physical education, English or history. You will also need to complete coursework focused on education and complete a student teaching experience.
You should also gain football experience at the postsecondary level. While a bachelor's degree is required to work as a coach, it's also important to gain football experience. Many individuals who want to become football coaches are former collegiate players who want to stay in the game. If this doesn't apply to you, then you can work as a voluntary team manager and assist with practices to gain experience.
Step 3: Obtain 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. If you want to work as a coach at a public middle school or high school, you will need to be a teacher and 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.