Coaches and scouts salary & career outlook

Very few professionals can impact the life of a child in the way that coaches and scouts often do. After all, coaches often spend weeks and months helping children and young adults hone their skills. These professionals have the opportunity to completely transform the abilities of the amateur athletes they coach, and often leave an impression that lasts a lifetime.

What coaches and scouts do

Coaches work with a student, or a team of students, to help them improve or learn new skills for a particular sport. Scouts look for new players and assess them for recruitment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, coaches often scout for new talent in addition to completing their coaching responsibilities (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012). Job responsibilities may vary, but coaches typically perform these job responsibilities:

  • Conducting practice sessions
  • Analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of individual players and planning strategically to utilize them
  • Providing athletes with encouragement and motivation
  • Teaching athletes proper techniques, with an emphasis on sportsmanship and strategy

Scouts typically perform the following tasks:

  • Studying news sources in order to search for prospective candidates
  • Attending games, and analyzing plays and performances
  • Arranging incentives for players who agree to join certain teams
  • Providing detailed reporting to the coach or team manager they are scouting for

According to the BLS, coaches and scouts need adequate communication and decision-making skills in order to effectively communicate with amateur athletes, parents, and each other. Students usually attend coach and scout schools in order to learn coaching fundamentals and complete basic education requirements.

How to become a coach or scout

Although postsecondary education isn't necessarily a requirement to become a coach or scout, head coaches and sports instructors are generally required to have at least a bachelor's degree. According to the BLS, this requirement may be due to the fact that many schools are required to hire teachers for coaching positions (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012). Coaches at the college level are also required to have a bachelor's degree.

Although there aren't any concrete education requirements for individuals who want to become scouts, it is generally helpful to have some experience playing a sport at a college or professional level. This kind of hands-on experience is crucial for individuals scouting for talent and ability.

Some schools and local governments do require coaches to become certified in order to gain employment. Although specific requirements can vary by state or school district, certification usually requires meeting a minimum age requirement, becoming certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and participating in a school-approved clinic or camp. Individuals interested in completing their coach and scout education online should research additional certification requirements at the National Federation of State High School Associations (nfhs.org).

Coach and scout salary trends

According to the BLS, the national median income for coaches and scouts was $28,360 in 2012, with the highest 10 percent of earners making $65,910 and the lowest 10 percent earning $17,210 (BLS.gov/oes, 2013). These three industries reported the highest mean wage nationally for coaches and scouts in 2012:

  • Business, Professional, Labor, Political and Similar Organizations: $62,610
  • Spectator Sports: $59,270
  • Federal Executive Branch: $58,110

In addition to being affected by the industry they choose, coach and scout earnings can also be affected by where they work. The BLS reports that the following locations paid the highest mean wage in 2012:

  • District of Columbia: $52,480
  • Arkansas: $48,900
  • Maryland: $48,850
  • West Virginia: $48,620

Career outlook for coaches and scouts

Due to a projected population increase and continued participation in sports, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment for coaches and scouts will increase 29 percent from 2010 until 2020 (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012). The exceptional growth projected for this career could be caused by the overall popularity of team sports in our culture.

As with earnings, employment opportunities for coaches and scouts can vary due to location. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's CareerOneStop (careerinfonet.org, 2012), the following states report the highest projected employment growth for coaches and scouts between 2010 and 2020:

  • New Mexico: 46.4 percent
  • Utah: 44.5 percent
  • Virginia: 37.6 percent

According to the BLS, individuals who are state-certified to teach students should have an advantage in gaining employment as a coach at the high school level (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012).