Sports Agents


Education and Training Requirements

High School

High school courses that will be helpful include business, mathematics, English, and speech. Business courses will provide the financial knowledge an agent needs to act as financial adviser and contract negotiator.

Postsecondary Training

No educational requirements exist for sports agents, but it is increasingly difficult to enter the field without at least a bachelor's degree in business administration, marketing, or sports management. Many who eventually become agents also go on to pursue a graduate degree in law or business, two areas which increase but do not guarantee your chances at success. Contract law and economics are courses that can help an agent improve the client's chances, and his or her own chances, for successful negotiations.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Many sports agents obtain a license or professional certification or registration as demonstration of their commitment and integrity. Although these are not yet mandatory, it is one way for athletes to determine who, among agents, is legitimate and therefore a better person to hire. Agents working for clients who belong to unions, such as the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), are required to obtain certification or a union franchise. Basically, agents who obtain certification or a franchise agree to abide by the standards created by the union to protect its members. To become certified by the NFLPA, for example, agents must pay a nonrefundable application fee of $2,500, have an undergraduate AND post-graduate degree (master's or law), participate in a two-day seminar, and pass a written examination.

Agents who start their own firms may need a business license in certain states. Contact your state’s department of professional regulation for information on requirements in your state. 

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Working for an agent as an intern, volunteer, or assistant is a great experience that will look good on your resume. Contact agents in your area to learn more about the opportunities that are available. 

Contacts and exposure to athletes are the unofficial requirements for sports agents. Simply put, without knowing or having access to athletes, it is next to impossible to represent them. Insiders say that often, a successful agent's first client is his or her college roommate—later hired when the college athlete turned professional.

The sports industry generates revenue in the hundreds of billions of dollars, only a portion of which actually goes to the athlete, so everyone who comes to the bargaining table—from management to athlete to advertiser—has a lot at stake. Sports agents must be able to handle tension and stress well, arguing effectively for their client's interests whether the opponent is the head of an international shoe manufacturer or the local real estate agent trying to sell the athlete a new house.

Finally, a large part of the sports agent's job is talking, making contacts, and then using those contacts to improve a client's position. This type of interaction is the bread and butter of a sports agent's career. As one insider put it, being just this side of annoying, obnoxious, or brash helps in this business. Often, the agent with the most name recognition is the one who ends up with the job.