Coaches and scouts held about 290,100 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of coaches and scouts were as follows:
|Arts, entertainment, and recreation||21%|
|Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private||20|
|Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private||18|
Some scouts work for organizations that deal directly with high school athletes. These scouts collect information on the athlete and help sell his or her talents to potential colleges.
At the college level, scouts typically work for scouting organizations or are self-employed. In either case, they help colleges recruit the best high school athletes.
Scouts who work 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 hours can vary for coaches and scouts and may include evenings, weekends, and holidays. Professional or college coaches may work additional hours during the sport’s season.
Coaches and scouts typically need a bachelor’s degree. They also must 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.
College and professional coaches usually must have a bachelor’s degree, typically in any subject. However, some coaches may decide to study exercise and sports science, physiology, kinesiology, nutrition and fitness, physical education, or sports medicine.
High schools typically hire teachers or administrators 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.
Like coaches, scouts must typically have a bachelor’s degree. Some scouts decide to get a degree in business, marketing, sales, or sports management.
College and professional coaching jobs typically require experience playing the sport at some level.
Scouting jobs typically do not require experience playing a sport at the college or professional level, but doing so can be beneficial. 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 or at least complete mandatory education courses.
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. For information about specific state coaching requirements, contact the state’s high school athletic association or visit the National Association of State Boards of Education.
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 jobs in private schools.
Some schools may require coaches to have a teaching license and complete a background check.
Certification requirements for college coaching positions also vary.
Additional certification may be highly desirable or even required for someone to coach individual sports such as tennis or golf. 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.
To reach the rank of a professional coach, a candidate usually needs years of coaching experience and a winning record at a college. Some coaches may not have previous coaching experience but are nevertheless hired at the professional level because of their success as an athlete in their sport.
Some college coaches begin their careers as graduate assistants or assistant coaches in order 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 who has had substantial experience at another school or as an assistant coach.
Other college coaches may start out as high school coaches before moving up to the collegiate level.
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.
Coaches and scouts typically have an interest in the Building, and Helping Persuading interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Helping interest area indicates a focus on assisting, serving, counseling, or teaching other people. The Persuading interest area indicates a focus on influencing, motivating, and selling to other people.
If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Helping or Persuading interest which might fit with a career as a coach and scout, you can take a career test to measure your interests.
Coaches and scouts should also possess the following specific 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.
The median annual wage for coaches and scouts was $34,840 in May 2019. 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 $19,040, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $78,890.
In May 2019, the median annual wages for coaches and scouts in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private||$46,180|
|Arts, entertainment, and recreation||37,320|
|Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private||29,960|
Coaches and scouts often work irregular hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. Professional or college coaches usually work more than 40 hours a week for several months during the sport’s season, if not most of the year. Many high school coaches work part time and may have other jobs aside from coaching.
Employment of coaches and scouts is projected to grow 11 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Rising participation in high school and college sports should 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 as more students participate in sports, the demand for coaches may increase.
Participation in college sports also is 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 also will 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 the athletes’ chances of receiving a college scholarship.
However, funding for athletic programs at schools often is cut when budgets become tight. For example, some high schools within the same school district may combine their sports programs in an effort to reduce costs. Still, the popularity of team sports often enables shortfalls to be offset with help from fundraisers, booster clubs, and parents.
Strong competition is expected for higher paying jobs at the college level, and competition 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. Candidates who have a degree or are state certified to teach academic subjects, therefore, should have the best prospects for getting coaching jobs at high schools. The need to replace the number 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 because of a growing number of participants and leagues.
Competition is also likely to be strong for jobs as scouts, particularly for professional teams.
For more information about coaching and scouting for team and individual sports, visit
For more information related to individual sports, refer to the organization that represents the sport.
For a career video on coaches and scouts, visit