Bachelor’s Degree, Certifications Part of a Successful Career Path
You love sports: the competition, camaraderie, fun and more. But what do you do when the game, or your athletic career ends? Consider coaching as a way to stay in the game and share your talents.
First, the downside to a coaching career: night and weekend hours, travel, average pay and budget cuts. The upside: increasing demand for sports, exciting workdays, and the opportunity to bring out the best in a person.
“Coaching is often a very rewarding career for those who love sports,” says Brian Freeland, sports and health sciences academic program manager for American Public University System (APUS). APUS is a distance learning institution that offers more than 70 online undergraduate and graduate degree programs. It serves more than 40,000 students worldwide.
“From youth sports to professional sports, coaches make a huge impact on the lives of their athletes,” he says. “Coaching provides a platform for developing better athletes — and better people.”
Paving the Way
The first step is to make sure you’re the right fit for a coaching position. In addition to a very strong knowledge of the particular sport, you should also be able to communicate in a positive manner, enjoy working with people and demonstrate good leadership. To enter the profession, or to help you advance to the next level, consider earning a coaching-related degree.
“Coaching goes beyond diagramming plays and developing practice plans. To succeed, you’ll need knowledge in many other areas,” says Freeland. “These areas include developing an effective coaching philosophy, determining your coaching objectives, and managing positive relationships.”
APUS is one university that offers a Bachelor of Science Degree in sports and Health Sciences and a Master of Science Degree in Sports Management. Both programs have a coaching concentration. In fact, APUS is one of the few universities to offer a coaching concentration at the master’s level.
The bachelor’s program includes courses in sports psychology, sports law, anatomy and physiology, facilities management, and leadership concepts. The master’s program expands on those areas and includes such others as research principals and economics. Courses include coaching strategy concepts, leadership concepts in coaching, and coaching theory and methodology.
Those new to the coaching profession, or those who want to advance, may also want to pursue a certification. Here are a few:
- Amateur Softball Association’s ACE Coaching Certification – This organization certifies individuals to coach amateur softball.
- American Sport Education Program – Coaches and officials who successfully complete these courses are listed on a national registry.
- Babe Ruth League Coaching Education Center: This organization certifies individuals to coach youth league baseball.
- National Soccer Coach Association – This association offers coaching courses and other professional development opportunities.
Chances are good for finding a job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employment for coaches and related positions to increase by 15 percent through 2016, must faster than other occupations.
“New professional organizations continue to form, universities are adding or expanding programs, and fundraising efforts at the high school level often offset budget cuts,” says Freeland.
Job opportunities are best for coaches at the high school level. University and professional sports coaching positions are often the better paying and most coveted. There are also related opportunities for umpires, referees and sports instructors.
Freeland says there has been an increase in the number of specialized training camps for young athletes, such as off-season baseball and basketball academies. The demand for sports instructors should increase as the number of retirees increase, says BLS. It expects the large group of “baby boomer” retirees to participate more in leisure activities that require instruction, such as golf and tennis.
“The jobs are there. And you can earn a good salary. You just need to prepare to win the job, just as you would for any competition,” says Freeland. “A bachelor’s or master’s degree is a great way to start, or jump start — your career.”