Best Jobs for Former Athletes

Updated on April 7, 2024

Transitioning from a professional athletic career into the workforce can be a challenging but rewarding journey for many former athletes. The discipline, teamwork, leadership, and competitive spirit honed on the field or court can translate into valuable skills in various careers. Here are the top jobs that are well-suited for former athletes, leveraging their unique skill sets and experiences.

Sports Broadcasting

  • Average Salary: Varies based on experience and the size of the audience.
  • Job Description: Former athletes in sports broadcasting use their in-depth knowledge of the game to provide commentary, analyze plays, and share insights during sports events.
  • Responsibilities: Commentating on live games, conducting pre and post-game analyses, interviewing athletes and coaches.
  • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in broadcasting, journalism, or communications is often preferred, though not always required for those with significant professional sports experience.

Coaching

  • Average Salary: Varies widely depending on the level (high school, college, professional) and location.
  • Job Description: Coaches help athletes improve their performance, develop strategies, and foster team unity.
  • Responsibilities: Developing training programs, analyzing performance, mentoring athletes.
  • Required Education: While a specific degree may not always be required, many coaches pursue degrees in sports science, physical education, or a related field.

Sports Psychology

  • Average Salary: Varies based on practice setting and geographic location.
  • Job Description: Sports psychologists work with athletes to improve their mental well-being and performance, addressing issues like anxiety and motivation.
  • Responsibilities: Conducting therapy sessions, developing mental training programs, working alongside coaches and trainers.
  • Required Education: A doctoral degree in psychology with a focus on sports psychology, along with licensure.

Physical Therapy

  • Average Salary: Varies based on location and specialization.
  • Job Description: Physical therapists help patients recover from injuries, often working with athletes to regain strength and mobility.
  • Responsibilities: Assessing injuries, developing treatment plans, guiding patients through exercises.
  • Required Education: Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree and state licensure.

Sports Photography

  • Average Salary: Varies based on assignments and experience.
  • Job Description: Sports photographers capture the action and emotion of sporting events through their lenses.
  • Responsibilities: Taking high-quality photos during events, editing images, working with media outlets or teams.
  • Required Education: Formal education is not always required, but many have degrees in photography or related fields.

Executive Recruiter/Talent Acquisition

  • Average Salary: Varies widely based on industry and commission structures.
  • Job Description: Executive recruiters identify and recruit top talent for organizations, using their competitive nature to excel.
  • Responsibilities: Networking, interviewing candidates, negotiating job offers.
  • Required Education: A bachelor’s degree in business, human resources, or a related field is common.

Actor/Actress

  • Average Salary: Highly variable, from per-project pay to substantial salaries for leading roles.
  • Job Description: Transitioning into acting allows former athletes to leverage their performance skills and public personas in entertainment.
  • Responsibilities: Performing in films, TV shows, theater productions, and commercials.
  • Required Education: Formal education varies; many actors attend acting schools or take workshops.

Team Executive

  • Average Salary: Varies significantly based on the level of the organization and specific role.
  • Job Description: Former athletes can leverage their sports knowledge and leadership skills in executive roles within sports organizations.
  • Responsibilities: Overseeing operations, strategic planning, and team management.
  • Required Education: Degrees in sports management, business administration, or related fields are common.

Business Owner

  • Average Salary: Earnings can vary widely depending on the nature and success of the business.
  • Job Description: Athletes who venture into entrepreneurship use their drive and leadership skills to build and manage their own businesses.
  • Responsibilities: Business planning, financial management, marketing, and sales.
  • Required Education: No specific requirement, but many entrepreneurs pursue business-related degrees.

Sports Commentator

  • Average Salary: Depends on the level of competition covered and the broadcaster’s profile.
  • Job Description: Sports commentators provide live commentary during sports events, offering insights and keeping the audience engaged.
  • Responsibilities: Analyzing gameplay, providing play-by-play commentary, engaging with co-commentators.
  • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, or related field is common but not always necessary for former professional athletes.

Final Thoughts

For former athletes, the end of a sports career is not the end of the road but the beginning of a new journey. The skills developed in sports are highly transferable and can lead to successful careers in various fields, from sports broadcasting and coaching to entrepreneurship and beyond. Embracing these opportunities allows former athletes to continue to make an impact, leveraging their competitive spirit, leadership abilities, and diverse perspectives to new industries. The journey from athlete to professional in a new field can be fulfilling, leveraging the unique attributes that sports foster in individuals. As they navigate their post-athletic careers, former athletes have the potential to inspire, lead, and excel, demonstrating that the skills developed in competitive sports have wide-reaching applications beyond the playing field.

Sources

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I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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