How to Become an Athletic Director


If you want to become an Athletic Director, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. Does the following describe you?


Those who become athletic directors have a passion for athletics and an aptitude for business administration. They understand the importance that athletic programs have in the lives of the athletes and coaches involved, as well as the impact they have on the overall economy of the institution that administers them.


They must have the emotional fortitude to withstand the ups and downs of this demanding career, as well as the patience to see initiatives through from inception to full implementation and administration.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as an athletic director. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education You Might Need

Although educational requirements may vary by employer, you typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in an area such as business administration, management, athletic administration, or a related field in order to be hired on as an Athletic Director.


Some employers might require that you have a master’s degree in one of these areas, or you may be required that you have experience in athletics or coaching in order to be hired as an athletic director.





Athletic Director Job Description

Athletic directors are the primary administrators of an organization’s (usually an educational institution) athletic program. As the primary administrator of an athletic program, the athletic director is responsible for the overall economic and competitive success of the program.


They must oversee the administration of every element of the sports and athletic programs of the organization, which includes all facilities used by their sports teams, coaching staff, support staff, scheduling of games and tournaments, and budget.



General Job Duties

• Create, implements and evaluate athletic programs for the institution

• Administering current athletic programs

• Evaluate coaches and support staff

• May mediate disputes among coaches, or between coaches and athletes

• Set tournament schedules

• Evaluate facility conditions and the facility requirements for the institution’s various athletic programs

• Communicate with school officials regarding athletic events and student athletes

• Oversee budget and prepare funding requests



Paths for Entering This Profession

There isn’t one pre-determined path that you must take to become an athletic director. In fact, there are typically four main paths you can take if you want to pursue this career, including:


Athletic Path: Having experience as an athlete at progressively higher levels of competition provides potential athletic directors with experience in the day-to-day operations of how such programs are run, as athletes are given the up close and personal view of how the athletic department conducts business.


Coaching Path: Coaches make excellent candidates for athletic directors because they are given an inside look at the operations of these programs, and may be given chances for promotion into the position of director.


Business Leader Path: Having skills and experience in business is a great way to become an athletic director without necessarily having personal experience in athletics or coaching. Being able to manage people; help companies grow through marketing; and using communication strategies and skill to get people on the same page and get great ideas to the forefront are all skills that a business leader can apply to the position of Athletic Director.


Entry-level Administration Path: Gaining an entry-level job with an organization that administers athletic programs is a great way to eventually get a job as that program’s director. Working your way up through such an organization is a very effective route to take, as it allows you to learn aspects of the organization at every level, and you are frequently in a position to be promoted to a role at a higher level of responsibility if you show dedication and competency in your work.




Who Employs Athletic Directors?

Although athletic directors are primarily employed by educational institutions to manage their competitive sports programs; they can also be hired by other organizations for this purpose as well. Organizations that employ athletic directors include:


• Colleges and universities

• Public and private high schools

• Provincial/state sports and recreation associations

• Municipal, provincial/state and federal government departments

• Not-for-profit organizations such, as the Boys and Girls Clubs


Typical Salary Level

The salary level of athletic directors can vary depending on factors such as their level of experience, their level of education, how many athletic programs and sports teams the organization has, the economy of the institution they work for, and many others. 


Salary in Canada (Alberta figures only): According to the 2016 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Recreation and Sports Administrator occupational group, earn an average wage of between $68,890 per year.


Please Note: Unfortunately, at the time of writing (June 9, 2019), no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories, or the United States, for this specifc profession. 



Current Job Postings

Our job board below has athletic director postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.




Similar Careers in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Athletic Director, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Administrative Director

Camp Director

Recreation and Sports Director

Sports Coach

University President




Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of this profession.


Occupations in Alberta:Recreation and Sport Administrator.” (March 19, 2016). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved October 24, 2019.

Blog:An Athletic Director’s Responsibilities and Career Outlook.” (n.d.). Ohio University website. Retrieved October 24, 2019.

Articles:Athletic Director.” (n.d.). Carney Sandoe & Associates website. Retrieved October 24, 2019.



Relevant Scholarships

Scholarships listed for majors that are relevant for becoming an athletic director can be found on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant Fields of Study

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for entering this profession. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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Athletic Director