Career Development

What Does an Athletic Director Do?

Find out what an athletic director does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as an athletic director.

The role of an athletic director is one that requires a great deal of leadership, organization and communication skills. They are responsible for overseeing all aspects of their school’s athletics program, including hiring coaches, scheduling games and practices, managing budgets, etc.

Athletic directors must be able to juggle multiple tasks at once while maintaining a clear vision of the big picture. They often have many different people reporting to them—coaches, teachers, students, parents, etc.—and they need to be able to effectively communicate with each of these groups in order to get things done.

Athletic Director Job Duties

Athletic directors typically have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Coordinating team travel arrangements, including hotels, meals, and transportation
  • Evaluating the performance of coaches and other staff to ensure they are providing adequate support to student athletes
  • Overseeing the operation of all athletic programs, including hiring coaches and scheduling games and practices
  • Managing budgets for athletic departments, setting prices for tickets, and collecting revenue from sponsorships and advertisements
  • Supporting athletes with interest in participating in sports, including helping them find scholarships for college
  • Coordinating fundraising efforts for the school’s athletic department, including soliciting donations from alumni and businesses
  • Coordinating with coaches to schedule game times and locations, and preparing game notes for referees
  • Ensuring that facilities and equipment meet safety standards, and maintaining good working order
  • Coordinating with the school’s admissions department to recruit prospective student athletes

Athletic Director Salary & Outlook

Athletic directors’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the size and budget of the school or team.

  • Median Annual Salary: $62,500 ($30.05/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $122,000 ($58.65/hour)

The employment of athletic directors is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

Schools will continue to offer a variety of sports in order to attract students and families. Athletic directors also will be needed to oversee the increasing number of physical education classes offered in schools.

Related: In-Depth Athletic Director Salary Guide

Athletic Director Job Requirements

The following are some of the qualifications that are often looked for in an athletic director:

Education: Most athletic directors have at least a master’s degree in sports management, exercise science or a related field. Some athletic directors choose to earn a doctorate in sports management or a related field.

Training & Experience: Athletic directors typically receive on-the-job training in the form of an internship while earning their bachelor’s degree. During an internship, they learn about the daily operations of a school and interact with faculty and students. They also learn about the athletic department and the responsibilities of an athletic director.

Certifications & Licenses: Depending on the size of the school, an athletic director may be required to be certified in CPR and first aid. Larger schools may require other certifications, such as licensure, certification or a degree.

Athletic Director Skills

Athletic directors need the following skills in order to be successful:

Leadership: As an athletic director, you are a leader in your organization and have the responsibility of overseeing the daily operations of a sports program. Leadership skills are important for athletic directors as they are responsible for managing staff, overseeing budgets and making executive decisions.

Communication: Communication is the act of conveying information to others. As an athletic director, you communicate with many people, including athletes, coaches, faculty members, university administrators and members of the public. Effective communication is an important skill for an athletic director to have because it allows you to convey information to others in a way that they can understand.

Marketing: Marketing skills allow you to promote your school and its athletic programs to potential students and donors. As an athletic director, you may be responsible for creating advertisements, designing marketing materials and creating social media campaigns. Having strong marketing skills can help you to develop effective strategies to promote your school and its athletic programs.

Budgeting: An athletic director oversees the finances of a school’s athletic department, including the budget. Having strong budgeting skills can help an athletic director make informed decisions about how to allocate the school’s athletic department resources. For example, an athletic director might need to decide whether to hire a new coach or invest in new equipment. Having strong budgeting skills can help an athletic director make the best decision for the department.

Time management: Time management is another skill that can be useful for an athletic director to have, as they often have many responsibilities and tasks to complete each day. Having good time management skills can help an athletic director prioritize their tasks and complete them efficiently.

Athletic Director Work Environment

Athletic directors typically work 40 hours per week, but their work hours may vary depending on the season and the type of sport they oversee. For example, those who work with collegiate or professional teams may have to work long hours during the season and on game days. They also may have to travel to away games. Athletic directors who work in high schools or with amateur teams usually have more regular hours. However, they may have to work evenings and weekends to attend games and meet with parents, coaches, and other administrators. Athletic directors typically work in an office, but they also spend time on the phone and in meetings. They may have to travel to meet with coaches, athletes, and others.

Athletic Director Trends

Here are three trends influencing how athletic directors work. Athletic directors will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

More Focus on Health and Wellness

As the world becomes increasingly more health-conscious, athletic directors will need to focus on promoting wellness in their schools. This means providing students with opportunities to be active and eat healthy food, as well as offering counseling services for those who may be struggling with mental health issues.

In addition, athletic directors can also promote wellness by creating a positive school culture that encourages students to take care of themselves both physically and mentally. This can include things like having a positive attitude towards athletics, encouraging students to get enough sleep, and providing support for those who are struggling.

More Data-Driven Decision Making

Athletic directors are increasingly using data to make decisions about how to best run their programs. This trend is driven by the increasing availability of data, which allows athletic directors to track the performance of individual athletes, teams, and even entire programs.

By using data to make decisions, athletic directors can ensure that they are making the most informed choices possible. They can also use data to identify areas where improvements can be made, such as improving team communication or developing better strategies for winning games.

The Growth of Esports

The growth of esports has been one of the biggest trends in recent years, as more and more people are becoming interested in playing video games competitively. This trend is likely to continue in the future, as esports become more popular and more colleges start to offer scholarships for players.

As the popularity of esports grows, athletic directors will need to find ways to incorporate them into their schools’ athletic programs. This may include setting up clubs and leagues, or providing funding for players to attend tournaments.

How to Become an Athletic Director

Athletic directors can have a rewarding career in many different ways. They can work for a school district, a college or university, a professional sports team, or a non-profit organization that supports athletes. No matter which path they choose, athletic directors should have a strong understanding of the sport they are working with and be able to effectively manage people and resources.

Related: How to Write an Athletic Director Resume

Advancement Prospects

Athletic directors typically have several years of experience working in the sports industry before they are promoted to director-level positions. Many athletic directors start their careers as coaches or other sports professionals. Some may also have worked in sports administration or as sports reporters or broadcasters.

Athletic directors who have a master’s degree in sports administration or a related field may have an advantage when competing for jobs. In addition, many colleges and universities prefer to hire athletic directors who have experience working in intercollegiate athletics.

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