Nearly every college and university in the United States employs athletic directors. Opportunities exist at private and public institutions, community colleges, and universities both large and small. At a smaller college, a coach, not a traditional administrator, may serve as the athletic director. High schools with large sports programs may also employ athletic directors.
Professional publications such as the Chronicle of Higher Education (https://www.chronicle.com) have job listings for athletic directors. The human resources departments in most colleges and universities maintain listings of job openings at the institution and often advertise the positions nationally. The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources also has job listings at its Web site, https://www.cupahr.org.
Landing a job as an athletic director can be difficult; dozens of applicants may apply for a single position. For this reason, it is very important that you gain experience in the field and develop good networking skills. Work as a coach, assistant athletic director, or physical education instructor, or in another related position to get experience. Take advantage of any networking opportunities, such as league meetings, trade shows, and association membership, to get to know others working in the field. Some of the best job leads in the industry come by word of mouth. The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics also offers internships for aspiring athletic administrators.
Athletic directors advance by taking positions at larger schools or at institutions that have better-known athletic programs. For example, an athletic director at a small Division II school might take a job at a larger, Division I institution. Or a director who is already at the top college level may take a position at a school that has a better-known athletic program. Some athletic directors become administrators in professional sports, commissioners of athletic conferences, or recreation administrators for cities or towns. Others choose to leave the profession entirely, working as deans or academic advisers at their universities.
Tips for Entry
Visit the following Web sites for job listings: https://jobcenter.nacda.com and https://www.womenleadersincollegesports.org.
Join the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and Women Leaders in College Sports to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities. Attend conventions held by these organizations.
Participate in internships or part-time jobs that are arranged by your college’s career services office. The NACDA Internship Program has provided opportunities for about 190 college students and graduates since 1984. Visit https://www.nacda.com for more information.
Participate in mentoring programs offered by NACDA (https://www.nacda.com) and Women Leaders in College Sports (https://www.womenleadersincollegesports.org).