Sports Instructors and Coaches


Employment Prospects


Approximately 241,390 coaches and scouts are employed in the United States. Besides working in high schools, coaches are hired by colleges and universities, professional sports teams, individual athletes such as tennis players, and by youth leagues, summer camps, and recreation centers.

Starting Out

People with expertise in a particular sport, who are interested in becoming an instructor, should apply directly to the appropriate facility. Sometimes a facility will provide training.

For those interested in coaching, many colleges offer positions to graduate assistant coaches. Graduate assistant coaches are recently graduated players who are interested in becoming coaches. They receive a stipend and gain valuable coaching experience.

Advancement Prospects

Advancement opportunities for both instructors and coaches depend on the individual's skills, willingness to learn, and work ethic. A sports instructor’s success can be measured by their students’ caliber of play and the number of students they instruct. Successful instructors may become well known enough to open their own schools or camps, write articles and books, or produce how-to videos.

Some would argue that a high percentage of wins is the only criteria for success for professional coaches. However, coaches in the scholastic ranks have other responsibilities and other factors that measure success; for example, high school and college coaches must make sure their players are getting good grades. All coaches must try to produce a team that competes in a sportsmanlike fashion regardless of whether they win or lose.

Successful coaches are often hired by larger schools. High school coaches may advance to become college coaches, and the most successful college coaches often are given the opportunity to coach professional teams. Former players sometimes land assistant or head coaching positions. Some coaches advance by becoming athletic directors. 

Tips for Entry

Look for job listings on the Web sites of professional associations as well as high school and college Web sites.

Join professional associations in the area of interest. For example, if interested in coaching baseball, join the American Baseball Coaches Association.

Volunteer to coach a youth league or work as camp counselor during the summer. This will provide experience in coaching and with athletes and young people.

Conduct information interviews with high school and college coaches and ask them for advice on breaking into coaching.