Master of Arts in Athletic Leadership Careers

Make Your Online Master of Arts in Athletic Leadership Degree Work for You

When you earn your MA in Athletic Leadership degree, you do more than gain a competitive advantage. You can become a more well-rounded leader, with a deeper understanding of how every piece of an athletic organization fits together to develop your team.

Whether you’re looking to work on the sidelines or in the front office, graduating from the MA in Athletic Leadership program can qualify for a variety of career advancement opportunities.

MA in Athletic Leadership Graduates Are in Demand

Effective leaders are hard to find. Employers are always in search of those who have a knack for getting the most out of every team member — whether it’s their players or their staff.

The sports industry is also continuing to get bigger. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of postsecondary education administrators, which includes athletic administrators, is expected to grow 10% from 2016 to 2026, while employment of coaches and scouts is projected to grow 13% during this same timeframe. The BLS cites increased participation in high school and college sports as a possible factor.

Employers for MA in Athletic Leadership graduates may include:

  • Professional sports teams
  • Colleges and universities
  • High schools
  • Primary and secondary schools
  • Leagues and governing bodies
  • Sporting event facilities
  • Sports marketing firms
  • Sports commissions

Diverse Careers for Athletic Leadership Professionals

A successful athletics leader needs to be proficient in a wide array of areas, whether it’s developing your players to achieve optimal performance, staying on top of important industry changes or identifying health concerns of your athletes. Because of this range, the MA in Athletic Leadership program covers topics that are applicable across different occupations that fall within the sports universe.


Coaches teach amateur or professional athletes the skills they need to succeed at their sport. They are involved in the direction, instruction and training of the team and the individual athletes. Scouts look for new players and evaluate their skills and likelihood for success at the college, amateur or professional level.

Fast Facts:

  • The median wage for coaches and scouts is $33,780. Salaries for coaches of professional teams and upper-level college teams tend to be much higher. The average salary for an NCAA Division I head football coach was more than $2 million in 2018, while the highest-paid professional coaches can earn more than $10 million.
  • Employment of coaches and scouts is projected to grow 13% from 2016 to 2026, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

According to Burning Glass APIs, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, USA Today and The Street

Typical job titles:

  • Coach
  • Head coach
  • Assistant coach
  • Manager
  • Scout

Specialized skills required:

  • Player and team development
  • Budgeting and scheduling
  • Health and safety
  • Teaching
  • Strength and conditioning

Athletic Director

Athletic directors are responsible for overseeing all aspects of school or institution’s athletic programs. This can include hiring coaches and staff, managing facilities, promoting athletic competitions and ordering equipment.

Fast Facts:

  • Athletic directors can lead programs at colleges and universities, high schools and middle schools.
  • The average salary for athletic directors is $60,142. At the college/university level, the average increases to $75,972.
  • The demand for the profession is expanding, with employment of postsecondary education administrators, which includes athletic administrators, expected to grow 10% from 2016 to 2026.

According to self-reported data compiled by and. the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Typical job titles:

  • Athletic director
  • Director of athletics
  • Associate athletic director

Specialized skills required:

  • Budgeting
  • Strategic planning
  • Scheduling
  • Staff management
  • Teaching

Explore Your Options with an Online MA in Athletic Leadership Degree

If you want to grow professionally as a coach, athletic director, or elsewhere in the athletics industry, a master’s degree in athletic leadership can be a valuable asset. By earning your degree with Rider, you can graduate prepared to meet the challenges of the fast-moving and rapidly changing sports world.

Learn more about Rider’s online Master of Arts in Athletic Leadership degree.