How to Become a Sports Coach


How to Become a Sports Coach: Career Path Guide

If you want to become a sports coach, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as a sports coach:


Those who become sports coaches are knowledgeable and passionate about sports, and enjoy teaching them to others. They find instructing others to be highly rewarding, and they get a great amount of satisfaction from watching others succeed.


Sports coaches must be trustworthy, have high moral standards and be able to instill confidence in others. Those who become sports coaches must be comfortable giving directives to others, and must have enough organizational and creative ability to plan and conduct practices, as well as develop strategies for their team.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as a sports coach. 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 Needed to Become a Sports Coach

For middle and high school-based coaching jobs in Canada and the United States, schools usually prefer, and may be required, to hire teachers to take on these part-time jobs. In this case, coaches would have to meet the educational requirements of a high school teacher.


Coaches at the college and university level may be required to have a bachelor’s degree, although in some cases coaches may only be required to have coaching certification and experience playing the sport they are coaching.


Most sport organizations in Canada and the United States have a formal screening process for coaches. Typically, the preferred qualification is coaching certification combined with a bachelor's degree in physical education, exercise science or Kinesiology. For more information on certification, please refer to the provincial or state sporting organization that regulates the sport you are interested in coaching. 




Sports Coach Job Description

The primary responsibility of a sports coach is to get the best possible performance out of their individual athletes and teams. This involves creating gameplay strategies, personnel strategies, as well as motivating and leading the athlete(s).


At lower levels of sport, a coach may also be responsible for performing team management duties, such as recruiting athletes and managing the team roster. 


In higher levels of sport however, many teams will have a dedicated manager, or general manager, who looks after such functions. 



Sports Coach Job Duties

Although the duties of a sports coach can vary (typically depending on factors such as the level, and type, of sport they coach), they are usually responsible for the following:


• Scouting prospective athletes and opposing teams

• Ensuring that athletes are safe at all times

• Monitoring the progression of injured athletes

• Arranging training camps and try-outs

• Conducting player and parent meetings

• Planning and directing fitness programs for players

• Analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of individual athletes and opposing teams

• Preparing strategies for specific games

• Overseeing fundraising efforts

• Planning and conducting practices

• Selecting team from group of prospective players

• Arranging for supply and equipment acquisition



Who Hires Coaches? Where Do They Work?

Coaches are hired on a volunteer, part-time, full-time or contractual basis for sports teams and organizations that require in-game strategy creation, as well as recruiting, training, instructing and mentoring of athletes. Organizations that hire sports coaches include:


• Professional sports teams

• Provincial/state and national amateur sports teams

• Local amateur sports teams

• Colleges and universities

• School boards

• Community-based sports organizations and teams

• Public and private high schools

• Recreational facilities

• Private athletic clubs



How to Begin a Career as a Sports Coach

If you’re interested in becoming a sports coach, contact your provincial or state sport organization that administers the regulation of the sport you are interested in. They can help you identify where you should start and what your options are.


To get an entry-level coaching job, try contacting a local club or organization in your community to find out about volunteer coaching opportunities. 




Sports Coach Salary: How Much Do Coaches Earn?

The salary level of sports coaches can vary greatly depending on factors such as the level of competition they coach at, the sport they are coaching, their level of experience, their level of proven success, their level of certification, and many others.


Sports Coach Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Coaches occupational group earn an average wage of between $14.81 and $33.85 per hour.


Sports Coach Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for workers in the Coaches and Scouts occupational group is $28,340 per year. The lowest 10% of salaries in this occupational group are less than $16,380, and the top 10% are more than $63,720 per year.


Please Note: Many volunteer coaches receive an honorarium from the organization that administers the sports program they coach for.



Career Advancement for Sports Coaches

Most people who work as sports coaches work on a volunteer or part-time or seasonal basis with community or school-based sports programs, either by choice or they do so as a stepping-stone to coach at a higher level. For sports coaches that wish to coach at a higher level, there are many opportunities for advancement in this field.


With enough experience, these coaches may move into full-time, contracted positions, or part-time positions with more responsibility, as these jobs become available. For example, a university football player may join their alma mater as an assistant coach upon graduation, and may be offered the head coaching position (once available) if they are proven to be effective and dedicated in their work.


Some sports coaches may also move into sports administration positions, such as Athletic Director, or Recreation and Sport Director. Sports coaches make excellent candidates for sports and recreation program directors and athletic directors because they are given an inside look at the operations of these programs.



Personal Characteristics Needed to Become a Sports Coach

In order to become an effective sports coach, you need to have certain personality traits and characteristics, including:


• Trustworthiness

• High moral and ethical standards

• Have thorough knowledge of the sport being coached

• Able to instill confidence in athletes

• Able to foster high standards of sportsmanship

• Patience when instructing, teaching and coaching

• Enjoy working with people

• Enjoy assessing the skill level of athletes

• Able to direct the work of others



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Careers Similar to Sports Coach

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


Athletic Director

Athletic Scout

Personal Trainer

Physical Education Teacher

Strength and Conditioning Coach



References: How to Become a Sports Coach

Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a sports coach.


Occupations in Alberta:Coach.” (March 8, 2016). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 14, 2020.

Entertainment & Sports:Coaches and Scouts.” (September 4, 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics - United States Government website. Retrieved January 14, 2020.

Basics of Career Planning:What Does an Athletic Coach Do?.” Dawn Rosenberg McKay (January 16, 2019). The Balance Careers website. Retrieved January 14, 2020.

Explore Careers:Sports Coach.” (May 26, 2018) National Careers Service website. Retrieved January 14, 2020.



Scholarships for Becoming a Sports Coach

Scholarships in Canada and the United States listed for majors that apply to becoming a Sporting Coach can be found on the following pages:


Education Scholarships

Exercise Science Scholarships

Kinesiology Scholarships


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!



Becoming a Sports Coach: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a sports coach. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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