Athletic Director Careers: Salary Information & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of an athletic director career? Get real job duties, career outlook and salary info to see if becoming an athletic director is right for you.
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Pros and Cons in a Career as an Athletic Director

Athletic directors have a lot of responsibility to serve as a coach, mentor, manager and administrator. Examine the pros and cons of this career below.

Pros of Becoming an Athletic Director
Multiple employer options (high schools, colleges, non-profit organizations)***
Bonuses possible (90th percentile earned $5,709 annual bonus amount as of July 2015)*
90th percentile earned $97,052 in July 2015*
Allows you to use skills in sports and management***

Cons of Becoming an Athletic Director
May have an erratic work schedule (Night and weekend work is common)***
Jobs are usually held by white males (89% of athletic directors are white, 90% are males)**
May have heavy workloads at the beginning of sports seasons***
Required to be skilled in a variety of areas, such as finances, management, coaching***

Sources: *PayScale.com, **University of Tennessee, ***I Have a Plan Iowa.

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

As an athletic director, you'll be in charge of planning and directing sports activities. You'll manage all sports activities for your employer and the related events, publicity and finances. It's also part of your job to manage the coaches and others involved in running each sports activity. As the leader of the sports program, you must ensure that all proper funding is in place, equipment is safe and available, coaches are properly trained and sports events are being properly advertised. You may also have to work with other department heads to organize and coordinate activities.

Job Growth and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected postsecondary education administrators, a category which can include athletic directors, to experience growth of 15% from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). This increase is due to the expected increase in enrollments in postsecondary school between 2012-2022. However, the demand for athletic directors may not be as high as 15% because this category includes all administrators, include admissions officers and academic deans.

PayScale.com reported in July 2015 that athletic directors in the 10th-90th percentile range earned a base salary of $31,040-$97,052. The total pay with bonuses was reported as $30,564-$97,119.

Career Skills and Requirements

To work as an athletic director, you will likely need to have at least a bachelor's degree. Some employers may prefer that you hold a master's degree. You may earn your degree in areas such as athletic administration or management. Some employers may want you to have teaching or coaching experience. It's usually required that you understand sports and have knowledge of the regulations for the sports you will manage. Skills that can benefit you in this field include:

  • Leadership
  • Management
  • Organization
  • Interpersonal communication

Job Postings from Real Employers

In job ads posted in March 2012, employers wanted to find athletic directors who were willing to take on many job duties, ranging from managing coaches to developing new sports programs. Employers wanted to find someone who had a background in athletics and could start working with minimal direction. Specific ads said:

  • A public school in Connecticut was looking for someone with proper state certification, a coaching permit and at least five years of experience coaching or directing in high school sports.
  • A Catholic high school in Maryland was looking for a director with experience in coaching and sports management in a high school setting.
  • In Pennsylvania, a high school was seeking an athletic director with coaching experience and interest in working with a new sports program.
  • A Massachusetts school was looking for someone with fundraising experience and a master's degree.
  • A Vermont school district wanted a candidate with a proven background of working with students and parents and the ability to work with other school staff.

How Can I Stand Out?

Since many employers expect athletic directors to have previous experience working with players and coaching sports, you may be able to get an edge over the competition by accumulating experience through volunteer coaching positions. The position of athletic director involves more than just being conscious of sports, so you may also get ahead if you diversify your skills and gain experience in areas such as management.

You may also consider voluntary certification through an organization, such as the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA). The NIAAA offers the Registered Athletic Administrator, Certified Athletic Administrator and Certified Master Athletic Administrator designations.

Other Fields to Consider

With a meager job growth prediction, you may want to consider looking at other careers. If you want something that is similar to an athletic director position, but with less responsibility and more job growth potential, then you may consider becoming a sports coach, fitness instructor or instructional coordinator.

Coach

As a coach, you are responsible for only the sport that you coach. You may have many of the same responsibilities as an athletic director, but on a smaller scale. Coaching positions may be found at all levels, even elementary school. There are also no specific education requirements to become a coach. The BLS projected the 2010-2020 job growth would be about 29% for athletes, coaches, umpires and others in this field.

Fitness Worker

As a fitness worker, you may direct fitness activities for individuals or groups. The education you need largely depends on where you work, but typically it is minimal for entry-level positions. The BLS projected a 24% job growth for this field from 2010-2020.

Instructional Coordinator

An instructional coordinator helps to develop educational and training programs through creating curriculum, textbooks and other materials. In this position, you are still functioning as a leader within an educational setting. Typically, instructional coordinators focus on one subject area. Training is needed in your chosen area, and licensing is required if you will work in a public school. The BLS projected a 20% job growth from 2010-2020.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Professional Studies in Sports Industry Management
      • Master of Professional Studies in Sports Industry Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Purdue University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Healthcare Admin
      • Master of Healthcare Admin
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Nutrition Science
      • Bachelor: Health and Wellness
      • Bachelor: Health Science
      • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin
    Associate's
      • AASBA in Health Club Operations
  • Campus and Online Programs
    3. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Sportscasting (Campus)
      • BS - Sportscasting
      • B.S. - Sports Marketing and Media
  • Online Programs Available
    4. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Sports Analytics Management
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    Master's
      • M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Sports Business
      • MBA: Health Systems Management
      • MS in Health Care Administration
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care
      • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science
      • BS in Health Care Administration
      • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science with an Emphasis in Trauma
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Ed.D. - Sports Management
      • PhD in Education - Sports Management
    Master's
      • M.Ed. - Athletic Coaching
      • MEd - Sports Management
      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration
    Certificate
      • Education Specialist - Sports Management
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Abilene Christian University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Healthcare Administration
      • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Saint Joseph's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Health Administration - Organizational Development and Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • HS Diploma

Featured Schools

Georgetown University

  • Master of Professional Studies in Sports Industry Management

What is your highest level of education completed?

Purdue University Global

  • Master of Healthcare Admin
  • Bachelor: Nutrition Science
  • AASBA in Health Club Operations

Which subject are you interested in?

Full Sail University

  • BS - Sportscasting (Campus)
  • BS - Sportscasting
  • B.S. - Sports Marketing and Media

What is your highest level of education?

American University

  • Master of Science in Sports Analytics Management

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
  • M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Sports Business
  • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • Ed.D. - Sports Management
  • M.Ed. - Athletic Coaching
  • Education Specialist - Sports Management

What is your highest level of education?

Abilene Christian University

  • MBA - Healthcare Administration
  • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Administration

What is your highest level of education completed?