Coaches and Scouts

Summary

coaches and scouts image
Coaches and scouts instruct amateur and professional athletes, teaching them the fundamental skills of sports.
Quick Facts: Coaches and Scouts
2012 Median Pay $28,360 per year
Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2012 243,900
Job Outlook, 2012-22 15% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 36,200

What Coaches and Scouts Do

Coaches teach amateur or professional athletes the skills they need to succeed at their sport. Scouts look for new players and evaluate their skills and likelihood for success at the college, amateur, or professional level. Many coaches are also involved in scouting.

Work Environment

Coaches and scouts often work irregular hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. Full-time coaches usually work more than 40 hours a week for several months during the sports season. Coaches travel frequently to sporting events. Scouts may be required to travel more extensively when searching for talented athletes.

How to Become a Coach or Scout

Coaches and scouts typically need a bachelor’s degree. They must also have extensive knowledge of the game. Coaches typically gain this knowledge through their own experiences playing the sport at some level. However, although previous playing experience may be beneficial, it is typically not required for most scouting jobs.

Pay

The median annual wage for coaches and scouts was $28,360 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of coaches and scouts is projected to grow 15 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Increasing participation in high school and college sports will boost demand for coaches and scouts.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of coaches and scouts with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about coaches and scouts by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Coaches and Scouts Do About this section

Coaches and scouts
Coaches and scouts analyze the strengths and weaknesses of individual athletes and opposing teams.

Coaches teach amateur and professional athletes the skills they need to succeed at their sport. Scouts look for new players, evaluating their skills and likelihood for success at the college, amateur, or professional level. Many coaches are also involved in scouting.

Duties

Coaches typically do the following:

  • Plan, organize, and conduct practice sessions
  • Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of individual athletes and opposing teams
  • Plan strategies and choose team members for each game
  • Provide direction, encouragement, and motivation to prepare athletes for games
  • Call plays and make decisions about strategy and player substitutions during games
  • Plan and direct physical conditioning programs that enable athletes to achieve maximum performance
  • Instruct athletes on proper techniques, game strategies, sportsmanship, and the rules of the sport
  • Keep records of athletes’ and opponents’ performance
  • Identify and recruit potential athletes
  • Arrange for and offer incentives to prospective players

Scouts typically do the following:

  • Read newspapers and other news sources to find athletes to consider
  • Attend games, view videotapes of the athletes’ performances, and study statistics about the athletes to determine talent and potential
  • Talk to the athlete and the coaches to see if the athlete has what it takes to succeed
  • Report to the coach, manager, or owner of the team for which he or she is scouting
  • Arrange for and offer incentives to prospective players

Coaches teach professional and amateur athletes the fundamental skills of individual and team sports. They hold training and practice sessions to improve the athletes' form, technique, skills, and stamina. Along with refining athletes’ individual skills, coaches are also responsible for instilling in their players the importance of good sportsmanship, a competitive spirit, and teamwork.

Many coaches evaluate their opponents to determine game strategies and to establish specific plays to practice. During competition, coaches call specific plays intended to surprise or overpower the opponent, and they may substitute players for optimum team chemistry and success.

Many high school coaches are primarily academic teachers who supplement their income by coaching part time.

Sports instructors differ from coaches in their approaches to athletes because of the focus of their work. For example, coaches manage the team during a game to optimize its chance for victory, but sports instructors are often not permitted to instruct their athletes during competition.

Like coaches, though, sports instructors hold practice sessions, assign specific drills, and correct athletes' techniques. They spend more of their time working one-on-one with athletes, designing customized training programs for each individual.

Sports instructors typically specialize in teaching athletes the skills of an individual sport, such as tennis, golf, or karate. Some sports instructors, such as pitching instructors in baseball, may teach individual athletes involved in team sports.

Scouts evaluate the skills of both amateur and professional athletes. Scouts seek out top athletic candidates for colleges or professional teams and evaluate their likelihood of success at a higher competitive level.

Work Environment About this section

Coaches and scouts
Coaches provide direction, encouragement, and motivation to athletes.

Coaches and scouts held about 243,900 jobs in 2012. About 11 percent were self-employed.

The industries that employed the most coaches and scouts in 2012 were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private25%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private19
Other schools and instruction; state, local, and private17
Amusement, gambling, and recreation industries15
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations5

Some scouts may work for organizations that work directly with high school athletes. These scouts collect information on the athlete and help promote him or her to potential colleges.

At the college level, scouts typically work for scouting organizations or as self-employed scouts to help colleges recruit the best high school athletes.

Scouts at the professional level are typically employed by the team or organization directly.

Those people who coach and scout for outdoor sports may be exposed to all weather conditions of the season. In addition, they must travel often to attend sporting events. This is particularly true for those in professional sports.

Work Schedules

Coaches and scouts often work irregular hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. They usually work more than 40 hours a week for several months during the sport’s season, if not most of the year. Some high school coaches work part time, and they may coach more than one sport.

How to Become a Coach or Scout About this section

Coaches and scouts
Coaches and scouts must have overall knowledge of the game or sport.

Coaches and scouts typically need a bachelor’s degree. They must also have extensive knowledge of the sport. Coaches typically gain this knowledge through their own experiences playing the sport at some level. Although previous playing experience may be beneficial, it is not required for most scouting jobs.

Education

High schools typically hire teachers at the school for most coaching jobs. If no suitable teacher is found, schools hire a qualified candidate from outside the school. For more information on education requirements for teachers, see the profile on high school teachers.

College and professional coaches must usually have a bachelor’s degree. This degree can typically be in any subject. However, some coaches may decide to study exercise and sports science, physiology, kinesiology, nutrition and fitness, physical education, and sports medicine.

Scouts must also typically have a bachelor’s degree. Some scouts decide to get a degree in business, marketing, sales, or sports management.

Other Experience

College and professional coaching jobs also typically require experience playing the sport at some level.

However, scouting jobs typically do not require experience playing a sport at the college or professional level. Employers look for applicants with a passion for sports and an ability to spot young players who have exceptional athletic ability and skills.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most state high school athletic associations require coaches to be certified. Certification often requires coaches to be a minimum age (at least 18 years old) and be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first-aid. Some states also require coaches to attend classes related to sports safety and coaching fundamentals prior to becoming certified.

Although most public high school coaches need to meet these state requirements in order to become a coach, certification may not be required for coaching and sports instructor jobs in private schools.

Certification requirements for college coaching positions also vary.

Additional certification may be highly desirable or even required in order to become an instructor in scuba diving, tennis, golf, karate, or other individual sports. There are many certifying organizations specific to the various sports, and their requirements vary.

Part-time workers and those in smaller facilities or youth leagues are less likely to need formal education or training and may not need certification.

Advancement

Many coaches begin their careers as assistant coaches to gain the knowledge and experience needed to become a head coach. Large schools and colleges that compete at the highest levels require a head coach with substantial experience at another school or as an assistant coach.

To reach the ranks of professional coaches, a candidate usually needs years of coaching experience and a winning record in the lower ranks or experience as an athlete in that sport.

Scouts may begin working as talent spotters in a particular area or region. They typically advance to become supervising scouts responsible for a whole territory or region.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Because coaches instruct, organize, and motivate athletes, they must have excellent communication skills. They must effectively communicate proper techniques, strategies, and rules of the sport so every player on the team understands.

Decision-making skills. Coaches must choose the appropriate players to use at a given position at a given time during a game and find a strategy that yields the best chance for winning. Coaches and scouts also must be very selective when recruiting players from lower levels of athletics.

Dedication. Coaches must attend daily practices and assist their team and individual athletes in improving their skills and physical conditioning. Coaches must be dedicated to their sport, as it often takes years to become successful.

Interpersonal skills. Being able to relate to athletes helps coaches and scouts foster positive relationships with their current players and recruit potential players.

Leadership skills. Coaches must demonstrate good leadership skills to get the most out of athletes. They also must be able to motivate, develop, and direct young athletes.

Resourcefulness. Coaches must utilize the talent on a team to achieve the best chances for winning. For example, a coach may change players during the game to meet the defensive needs of the team.

Pay About this section

Coaches and Scouts

Median annual wages, May 2012

Total, all occupations

$34,750

Athletes, coaches, umpires, and related workers

$28,580

Coaches and scouts

$28,360

 

The median annual wage for coaches and scouts was $28,360 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount, and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,210, and the top 10 percent earned more than $65,910.

In May 2012, the median annual wages for coaches and scouts in the top five industries in which they worked were as follows:

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state,
local, and private
$39,960
Amusement, gambling, and recreation industries30,320
Other schools and instruction; state, local, and private26,090
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and
similar organizations
22,780
Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and
private
22,140

Coaches and scouts often work irregular hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. They usually work more than 40 hours a week for several months during the sport’s season, if not most of the year. Some high school coaches work part time, and they may coach more than one sport.

Job Outlook About this section

Coaches and Scouts

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Coaches and scouts

15%

Athletes, coaches, umpires, and related workers

14%

Total, all occupations

11%

 

Employment of coaches and scouts is projected to grow 15 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Rising participation in high school and college sports could increase demand for coaches and scouts.

High school enrollment is projected to increase over the next decade, resulting in a rise in the number of student-athletes. As schools offer more athletic programs and more students participate in sports, the demand for coaches may increase.

Participation in college sports is also projected to increase over the next decade, particularly at smaller colleges and in women’s sports. Many small, Division-III colleges are expanding their sports programs and adding new teams as a way to help promote the school and recruit potential students.

The growing interest in college and professional sports will also increase demand for scouts. Colleges must attract the best athletes to remain competitive. Successful teams help colleges enhance their reputation, recruit future students, and raise donations from alumni. Colleges, therefore, will increasingly rely on scouts to recruit the best possible high school athletes. In addition, as college tuition increases and scholarships become more competitive, high school athletes will hire scouts directly, in an effort to increase their chances of receiving a college scholarship.

However, funding for athletic programs at schools often is cut first when budgets become tight. For example, some high schools within the same school district may combine their sports programs in an effort to cut costs. Still, the popularity of team sports often enables shortfalls to be offset with help from fundraisers, booster clubs, and parents.

Job Prospects

Strong competition is expected for higher paying jobs at the college level and will be even greater for jobs in professional sports.

Job prospects at the high school level should be good, but coaching jobs typically go to those teaching in the school. Those who have a degree or are state-certified to teach academic subjects, therefore, should have the best prospects for getting coaching and instructor jobs at high schools. The need to replace the amount of high school coaches who change occupations or leave the labor force also will provide some jobs.

Coaches in girls’ and women’s sports may have better job opportunities and face less competition for positions.

Competition is likely to be strong also for jobs as scouts, particularly for professional teams.

Employment projections data for coaches and scouts, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Coaches and scouts

27-2022 243,900 280,100 15 36,200 [XLS]

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of coaches and scouts.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2012 MEDIAN PAY Help
Athletes and sports competitors

Athletes and Sports Competitors

Athletes and sports competitors participate in organized, officiated sporting events to entertain spectators.

High school diploma or equivalent $40,060
Athletic trainers

Athletic Trainers and Exercise Physiologists

Athletic trainers specialize in preventing, diagnosing, and treating muscle and bone injuries and illnesses. Exercise physiologists develop fitness and exercise programs that help patients recover from chronic diseases and improve cardiovascular function, body composition, and flexibility.

Bachelor’s degree $42,690
Dietitians and nutritionists

Dietitians and Nutritionists

Dietitians and nutritionists are experts in food and nutrition. They advise people on what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve a specific health-related goal.

Bachelor’s degree $55,240
Fitness trainers and instructors

Fitness Trainers and Instructors

Fitness trainers and instructors lead, instruct, and motivate individuals or groups in exercise activities, including cardiovascular exercise (exercises for the heart and blood system), strength training, and stretching. They work with people of all ages and skill levels.

High school diploma or equivalent $31,720
High school teachers

High School Teachers

High school teachers help prepare students for life after graduation. They teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market.

Bachelor’s degree $55,050
Kindergarten and elementary school teachers

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers prepare younger students for future schooling by teaching them basic subjects such as math and reading.

Bachelor’s degree $53,090
Middle school teachers

Middle School Teachers

Middle school teachers educate students, typically in sixth through eighth grades. Middle school teachers help students build on the fundamentals they learned in elementary school and prepare them for the more difficult curriculum they will face in high school.

Bachelor’s degree $53,430
Umpires, referees, and other sports officials

Umpires, Referees, and Other Sports Officials

Umpires, referees, and other sports officials preside over competitive athletic or sporting events to help maintain standards of play. They detect infractions and decide penalties according to the rules of the game.

High school diploma or equivalent $23,290
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Coaches and Scouts,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-sports/coaches-and-scouts.htm (visited August 27, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014