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Athletic Director Job Description, Career as a Athletic Director, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Training/Educational Requirements: Bachelor’s degree

Median Salary: $77,740 annually

Job Prospects: Fair

Job Description

Athletic directors can serve at any level of an educational institution, so their responsibilities usually vary widely. There is a need for an athletic director within each and every school. However, at the elementary and middle school level a member of the teaching staff may serve in this role. At institutes of higher learning such as high schools, colleges and universities, the athletic director’s role is more prestigious.

An athletic director oversees all sports functions within the given school. They oversee the events, as well as the logistics of each sports team associated with the school. Athletic directors are responsible for the hiring and mentoring of all coaches, overseeing the facilities the sports are played within, and managing the athletics department. They are the first contact if any media inquiries come in and manage the communication to the public surrounding all athletic programs. Athletic directors must develop processes and procedures surrounding the athletic programs, and work to ensure they are met within each program.

The athletic director works under the principal or dean of the school and is responsible for everything related to the athletic programs. They must have a good staff and dedicated coaches to keep the programs running smoothly. They are tied into everything, even the medical team, in the instance that an athlete gets injured. An athletic director is often a very prestigious position, particularly at the university level, with a great deal of responsibility involved with managing the athletic function and programs.

Training/Educational Requirements

Most athletic directors have a bachelor’s degree, with a concentration in physical education or other related focus. It is recommended an athletic director have some sort of educational background, even if it’s a few classes focusing on physical education, exercise, or other related focus. It is helpful to keep up with this focus through classes even after a degree is obtained.

Most athletic directors have experience playing and/or coaching sports at a prior point in their career. This is especially important at the college or university level, as a knowledge of sports or how such a program works is extremely important. Since the athletic director is involved with all sports programs, any knowledge of sports or coaching will serve them well.

How to Get Hired

It is not common for someone to get hired with no previous experience as an athletic director. Most of the time, the individual must demonstrate a background in sports and coaching. This, however, depends on the level of the educational institution where the individual works. In an elementary or middle school, the athletic director is usually a member of the teaching staff. At the high school level, this may be a part-time position depending on the school district size. In some instances there is one athletic director for the entire school district.

At the college or university level, athletic directors can be rather prestigious in nature. Therefore it is important to hire someone with a background in sports and proven coaching experience. If you are alumni for a school and have proven experience, it can certainly help you get your foot in the door. The likelihood of getting hired into an athletic director position depends on the size of the school and the notoriety of the athletics program.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

Educational jobs are expected to grow as fast as the average employment opportunities do. However, when it comes to athletic directors, the number of qualified candidates as compared to the number of open positions isn’t expected to grow as fast. This is especially true for the higher learning institutes such as colleges or universities, particularly if they have a well known athletic program. Many times with such an athletic program, the school is looking for somebody who has proven and well documented sports and coaching experience.

Individuals who have excelled at sports or have served as coaches may find career advancement into such a role is quite possible. Since athletic directors are often the highest of its kind at an educational institution, this is the farthest an individual may go in their career. Rather than climbing to the next level, they may just switch between athletic programs and schools. Most of the time athletic directors work hard to get to this level, and once they attain it, they hold onto it for a long period of time.

Since there are many requirements of this position, the hiring criteria is rather extensive. That’s why the employment outlook isn’t as positive as it is with other positions. Athletic directors must have a strong background to manage all sports functions. At an elementary or middle school level, the likelihood of job openings is significantly higher.

Working Environment

Most of the time, athletic directors work within an office at the school or university. They spend part of the time in the office, and part of the time wandering to the various sports venues within the school’s campus. They split their time between administrative and field work, so their environment changes from day to day.

There may be some travel involved since athletic directors must be present at the sporting events. This means long hours, evenings, and weekends depending on the nature of the athletics program. Since this is often the highest position an individual may strive for in this field, it is often expected they will be “on call” or at least available if any issues arise with the teams or athletics program.

Salary and Benefits

The median salary is about $77,740 per year for athletic directors, however, the salary range can vary widely. Salary depends on the school size and the athletic programs. Athletic directors at the elementary or middle school level earn a part-time salary of $37,000 a year, or may on additional income beyond their regular teaching salary. Athletic directors at a larger university with a well known athletic program can earn up to $131,000 per year.

Most athletic directors receive medical benefits for themselves and their families. They also receive up to 4-5 weeks of vacation depending on their level and experience. If it is a part-time position at an elementary school level, the benefits may be nonexistent or minimal.

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