Athletic Directors


Education and Training Requirements

High School

A well-rounded education is important for anyone interested in becoming an athletic director. In high school, take accounting, mathematics, business, social studies, and other college preparatory classes. Since communication skills are of utmost importance to athletic directors, be sure to take English and speech courses as well.

Postsecondary Training

A bachelor's degree in sports administration, physical education, or a related field is the minimum educational requirement to become an athletic director. You will need a graduate degree to be hired by the best programs.

Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, has the oldest program in the country in sports administration. Administered by the Center for Sports Administration, the program requires 36 credit hours (six of which are completed during an internship) and leads to a master of sports administration degree. The curriculum focuses on business administration, journalism, communications, management, marketing, sports administration, sports governance/law, and facility management. Internship opportunities are provided by more than 400 different organizations worldwide. The university also offers a dual master's degree in Business Administration/Sports Administration.

Other Education or Training

Both the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and Women Leaders in College Sports offer continuing education opportunities at their annual conventions. Additionally, the latter organization offers several institutes that help participants develop their leadership and management skills. Contact these organizations for more information. 

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification and Licensing

There are no certification or licensing requirements for athletic directors.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Students should obtain as much experience in the field as possible by participating in summer internships and part-time jobs. New graduates can get experience by working as coaches, assistant athletic directors, physical education instructors, or in other related positions.

To be successful in this career, you need to have a love and knowledge of sports. Since athletic directors must juggle many different tasks at once, you need to be organized and able to delegate tasks. Developing strong people skills will help you work effectively with people from all types of backgrounds. You must be dedicated to academic excellence and have a high degree of integrity, as well as have strong management and leadership skills. Athletic directors are under constant pressure to create winning, financially sound programs. For this reason, you must be emotionally steady, a good judge of coaching ability, and expert at business and financial management.