Pros and Cons to Becoming a College Scout
College scouts find athletes for postsecondary sports organizations. Continue reading to learn about the pros and cons of this career.
|PROS of Becoming a College Scout|
|Excellent projected job growth (15% from 2012-2022 for all coaches and scouts)*|
|Opportunity to be your own boss (19% were self-employed in 2010)*|
|Additional career expansion is expected for women's sports*|
|College scouts are very well paid among sports scouts (about $54,000 mean wage as of 2014)*|
|CONS of Becoming a College Scout|
|Requires immense expertise in the sport for which you scout*|
|Often work more than 40 hours a week, particularly during sports season*|
|Unusual work schedule (holidays, evenings and weekends)*|
|Strong competition for higher-paying college scouting jobs*|
|Requires travel to see sports competitions or meet with clients*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Essential Career Information
As a college scout, your job will be to find the best athletes possible and persuade them to join the sports organization that you're working for. This requires you to have expertise in the rules and strategies of the sport for which you're scouting, whether its baseball, football or basketball, as well as knowing what traits a person needs to be successful in a specific role. Along with reading newspapers and watching games, many scouts identify prospective athletes by reviewing videos submitted to them by interested parties. You might then consult with coaches and perform interviews with athletes over the phone, in person or by e-mail. When talking to a potential player, you'll want to highlight what your school has to offer, and you might offer them incentives for signing with your team.
College scouts typically work long an unusual hours during sports seasons and sometimes throughout the entire year. You may work for a scouting firm or directly for a college in this profession, or you might be self-employed and contract your services out to schools or organizations. If you work for a college, you'll likely also serve as an assistant coach for the team you're scouting for.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that coaches and scouts in all capacities made an average salary of about $39,000 as of May 2014 (www.bls.gov). Additionally, the top ten percent of coaches and scouts earned $69,000 or more per year, while the bottom ten percent earned about $18,000 or less per year. Those who worked in colleges and universities were well paid compared to other industries, earning roughly $54,000 on average.
The BLS also reported that jobs for scouts and coaches were expected to grow by 15% from 2012-2022, which is a faster than average rate compared to other occupations. This rise in demand is largely due to the expansion of sports programs at small colleges. Women's sports programs will provide the best opportunities for college scouts and will be the least competitive. However, expect to face keen competition for all higher-paying college scout positions.
What Are the Requirements?
Education and Career Skills
Although there are no formal education requirements to become a college scout, many employers want college scouts who have been athletes themselves. If you're familiar with a sport and you know what to look for, you'll be more effective at scouting talent. Unless you can gain this experience as a professional athlete, you'll likely need experience playing a sport at the college level, which will require you to attend a postsecondary institution. During college, you might major in an applicable subject, like nutrition and fitness, kinesiology, physiology, physical education, sports medicine or sports science. One of these majors can help create an educational foundation for a career in scouting.
Interpersonal skills are very important for a career as a college scout, because much of the job requires conversing with contacts and clients. You have to be passionate about the school you represent to potential recruitments as well as the sport you scout for; however, you also have to make an athlete feel comfortable and respected in order to draw them in to your team. Sales and communication skills are particularly important, since you'll be convincing and negotiating with prospective athletes.
Job Postings from Real Employers
Many positions for college scouts are available through branches of national associations or large recruiting firms. While employers often call for various levels of education and experience, one common qualification is an enthusiasm for sports and an entrepreneurial spirit. Look through these job listings for college scouts in April 2012 to learn what employers were looking for:
- An athletic recruiting association headquartered in Illinois is looking for an entry-level college scout. The applicant must be a college student and able to work at least 20 hours per week as well as having proficiency in computing and Microsoft applications.
- A national recruiting agency based in Chicago is looking for a college scout with a bachelor's degree, passion for sports and, preferably, inside sales experience. Social media skills and good phone demeanor are required.
- A national scouting agency is looking for scouts across the country who are passionate about connecting high school athletes with college sports teams. Strong analytical and communication skills are essential, as is the ability to convince clients while still seeming genuine and honest. Those hired will complete training and will be employed as independent contractors.
How Can I Stand out?
Get Sales Experience
As April 2012 job postings reveal, employers tend to look for college scouts with sales skills. As such, you can outshine your competition by gaining experience in sales. You can usually find employment in retail sales settings with no formal education, which means you could work part-time during high school or college. A sales job can provide you with the persuasion skills and persistence needed to close sales. You might even earn promotion to a management position, which can give you the leadership and decision-making skills that are also beneficial for a career in college scouting.
Get Experience as a Coach
Since you'll be working closely with college and high school coaches in this career, you might benefit from gaining experience as a coach or assistant coach. In fact, some assistant coaches also take on scouting duties. You could work for a secondary or postsecondary institution or another public or private team. If you can't secure paid employment as a coach, consider volunteering. The relationships you make with other coaches and athletes may lead to future contacts after you begin your career as a scout.
Other Career Choices
If you have passion for sports but don't want a career so closely related to sales, consider a career as a sports official. Also known as referees or umpires, a sports official oversees a sporting event. The rules and regulations you enforce are dependent upon the sport that is being played, but your goal is to find any infractions made by players and assign penalties as appropriate. There are no strict requirements for this career, though you may need certification and experience in the sport you officiate. Sports officials earned an average salary of about $30,000 as of May 2011, according to the BLS. Employment growth for officials is not as fast as that of scouts; however, jobs in this field were still expected to grow at a faster-than average rate of 20% from 2010-2020.
If your passion is for playing sports rather than finding talent, consider becoming a professional athlete instead of a scout. Athletes train and practice continually to develop their skills in a specific sport. In this career, you'll develop tactics and strategies with your teammates and coaches in order to increase your chances of winning competitions. There are no strict requirements for this profession, though you'll need extensive training in your sport. As of May 2011, athletes earned roughly $80,000 on average annually, according to the BLS. The BLS also reports that positions for athletes were expected to grow by 22% from 2010-2020.