Sports administrators are responsible for carrying out administrative tasks across a wide range of functions within sports clubs and organisations. For instance, you could be focusing your efforts on marketing, fundraising, procurement, supply chain management or general administration tasks. Alternatively, you could be responsible for organising and scheduling sports events, managing budgets or overseeing the recruitment and training of staff.
Opportunities to work as a sports administrator are available in sports clubs (amateur and professional), sports academies and schools, sports administration and governance bodies, health facilities, sports charities and not-for-profit organisations and community centres.
No matter what area of sports administration you move into, you will essentially be responsible for making sure sports organisations, events and initiatives are run efficiently and cost-effectively. Consequently, part of your role will involve maintaining databases, managing admin systems and implementing project management processes to ensure everything runs as smooth as silk.
Salary & benefits
Entry-level salaries for sports administrators often range between £15,000 and £20,000, while employees with managerial responsibilities can earn anywhere between £25,000 and £100,000 per annum.
Understandably, the higher-end salaries are paid to directors and senior managers of large sports facilities and organisations.
Popular sports such as athletics, cricket, football, rugby and tennis attract a lot more attention and therefore a lot more funding. Consequently, working as an administrator in any of these sports is likely to be more lucrative than working for an Ultimate Frisbee organisation.
Additional evening, weekend and holiday work is common in these professions. Peak tournament or professional league seasons are extremely busy times and will certainly be a test of your patience, multitasking and ability to work under pressure.
Travelling around is also likely to be required on a frequent basis. From time to time, you might even get the chance to travel internationally.
Commonly, employers will require candidates to have a strong degree in any discipline. However, a recognised qualification in sports administration, sports science, sports development, physical education, business studies, recreation management or marketing is the common preference of most sports organisations.
Prior experience of organising sporting events, administrative work and sports activities can be helpful, especially given that there is likely to be intense competition for a limited amount of jobs.
Entry without a relevant degree or foundation degree may be a possibility, though you will need to get plenty of work experience in an administrative capacity with sporting organisations before applying for entry-level positions.
Training & progression
Structured graduate training programmes are rare and most training is provided ‘on-the-job’ under the supervision of senior administrators, though some large employers may conduct short introductory training sessions.
Self-initiated learning and gaining advanced professional qualifications from industry bodies, such as the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA), are recommended for career progression.
Long-term career options require extensive networking and proficiency in managing sporting events. As you progress in your career, the common route is to develop into supervisory and managerial positions. It’s also possible to move into other administration jobs outside of the sporting arena, such as charity fundraising, public relations and events management.
For people specifically interested in professional club management, the Club Managers Association of Europe (CMAE) offers short-term training courses, certificates and diplomas.
Membership is not just restricted to popular sports. Indeed, professionals working in other sports, recreational facilities, health and fitness centres and other social clubs are welcomed with open arms. The association also awards the Certified Club Manager (CCM) credential, which is valid for five years.
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