Pros and Cons of a Sports Agent Career
Sports agents generally represent and promote athletes to employers, and often handle their business negotiations. Keep reading to find out more about pros and cons associated with a sports agent career.
|Pros of Being a Sports Agent|
|High average salary of around $97,220 as of 2014 (for agents and business managers of artists, performers, and athletes)*|
|High degree of independence possible**|
|Variety in tasks is normal (mix of desk work and meeting with others)****|
|Professional organizations available to promote networking and education***|
|Cons of Being a Sports Agent|
|Highly competitive field**|
|Irregular schedule, long hours and frequent travel likely****|
|Need to handle a high degree of stress and pressure**|
|Have to anticipate problems**|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*Net OnLine, ***North American Society for Sport Management, ****I Have a Plan Iowa.
Job Description and Duties
As a sports agent, you'll generally represent and promote athletes to employers. You could handle contract negotiations and other business-related tasks for your clients, such as preparing accounting and other financial statements, and you might schedule public performances or promotional events for them. You'll likely negotiate with managers and other individuals regarding your clients' contracts. Agents typically meet with their clients to develop strategies for career growth and explain what they can do for their clients and why. You might scout clients or schedule auditions or interviews to assess potential clients.
Not only will you need to sell your client to potential employers, you'll have to sell yourself to the client to convince him or her that you're the best person to handle his or her representation. You might negotiate endorsement deals, arrange travel plans and generally coordinate your client's schedule. Communication is key to success, so you'll need to keep in contact with your client and many other parties to make sure that all plans run as scheduled. To be successful and maintain a strong client base, you'll need to keep informed of news and trends in the sports world. You should have a strong knowledge of sales, marketing, media, economics and customer service. To keep up a name for yourself in the industry, you should be good at networking and maintaining interpersonal relations.
Job Prospects and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for agents and business managers was expected to be about as fast as average for all jobs, at 10% (creating 1,800 new jobs) from 2012-2022. This group earned an average of about $97,220 per year as of May 2014, according to the BLS. New York and California were the states with the highest concentration of jobs in the profession. California paid the most of any state, with an annual average salary of around $126,330, as reported by the BLS.
Many sports agents are self-employed and promote themselves to gain more clients. It's also possible that you could find a job at a law firm or a sports management agency; however, these positions are limited and can therefore be highly competitive.
What Are the Requirements?
To become a sports agent, a bachelor's degree is typically necessary, according to the BLS. Paths of study could include business with an emphasis in accounting or finance as well as kinesiology. Examples of specific courses that could provide you with a good background in the profession include global marketing, advanced accounting, advanced federal taxation, sports psychology and kinesiology philosophy. While the science of physical movement may not immediately seem to mix with business classes, it's worth noting that you'll need to be able to determine your clients' market values. This can be done through a complete understanding of the games that they play and how they match up to similar athletes.
In addition to business and kinesiology, many sports agents have a background in law or legal studies. Those who aren't already lawyers may need to hire lawyers to oversee larger financial work, so attending law school and gaining licensure as a lawyer can increase the services that you're able to offer to your clients. You're responsible for providing professional advice to your clients that will result in financial gain, so it's important to have a thorough understanding of these aspects of the job. Some sports agents have previous experience as accountants or tax lawyers.
In many states, you need to register to become a practicing athlete agent who works with students. Registration typically involves applying and paying a fee to a government commission, and you may need to re-register after a certain number of years.
Top Skills for a Sports Agent
Working as a sports agent can be competitive and stressful, so it's important to have a strong base of skills that can help you be successful. You should be persuasive and confident in negotiations, though you also need to listen actively to the concerns and needs of those with whom you're negotiating. You'll usually work independently and make large career decisions for your clients, so you should be able to anticipate and prevent any problems and be able to resolve complaints and conflicts.
Since sports agents need to maintain clear channels of communication with individuals in many arenas, social skills are a must. You need to be expressive, clear and reliable. Knowing how to handle stress well, showing initiative and being persistent in securing clients are also important traits. In addition, much of working as an agent has to do with who you know, so you should be outgoing and comfortable with networking.
How to Maximize Your Skills
While a bachelor's degree is usually required for entry into this profession, you could enhance your job prospects by earning an advanced degree or taking relevant continuing education classes. Master's degree and graduate certificate programs in topics such as sports management and sports administration are available.
You may decide that you want to pursue a law degree in order to improve your professional knowledge and increase the breadth of services that you can offer your clients. Some law schools offer a sports law certificate in conjunction with a law degree, or you could focus on sports and entertainment law. You'll first need to apply and be accepted to a law school program, and upon graduation, you'll need to pass a series of exams in order to be licensed as a lawyer (though requirements vary by state).
Other Fields to Consider
Maybe after reading about what it's like to be a sports agent, you're not sure if it's the right job for you. If you'd like to work in the field with athletes, consider becoming a coach or scout. As a coach, you would teach athletes how to succeed at their sport, and you could also double as a scout, where you would evaluate athletes and look for new team players. To become a coach or scout, you should have experience in the sport where you want to work, and a bachelor's degree might be required. Employment for these professions was expected to grow 29% from 2010-2020, which was much faster than average, according to the BLS. Coaches and scouts made an average of $36,000 per year as of May 2011.
If you're interested in financial management, you could pursue a career as an accountant. You would help prepare financial records for individuals or businesses and make recommendations regarding best financial practices. You'll likely need to be licensed as a Certified Public Accountant, and while a bachelor's degree is needed for entry into the field, some positions might require a master's degree. Job growth was predicted to grow 16% from 2010-2020, based on BLS figures; this was about average compared to all professions. In May 2011, accountants and auditors made a higher-than-average mean annual wage of around $70,000.