Sports and Recreation

Those who work in the sports and recreation industry provide services and activities for people to engage in during their leisure time. Professions include coaches, referees, managers, administrators, recreation workers, athletes, and athletic trainers. 

Just like traditional business settings, sports organizations, rec centers, and park authorities also require a host of administrative and support roles. These can include human resources workers, accountants, advertising and public relations representatives, marketers, and professional scouts to name a few.

How to Get Started

3 steps to get you started in sports and recreation

  • Get involved with student organizations on campus such as the Sport Management Society or Rho Phi Lambda - Alpha Tau Chapter.
  • Get a summer internship or job that helps you to work part time or full time in the sports arena. One position to look for is a job in ticket sales. Many jobs prefer that you have some experience supporting a sports team through selling.
  • Choose the area of sports management or recreation you would like to pursue. Possible areas include sports marketing, sales, events, public relations, sponsorships, or sports and recreation.


Skills needed for a career in sports and recreation

  • Activity-specific knowledge and skills for various sports
  • Instructing/teaching
  • Calm and personable under pressure
  • Judgment and decision making
  • Critical thinking
  • Physical dexterity (practitioners)
  • Customer service orientation
  • Communications (written and verbal)
  • Active listening
  • Collaboration and team skills
  • Interpersonal skills with all levels of management
  • General and Operations Management
  • Public relations
  • Program and event planning
  • Time management

Degrees and Certifications


Research, get experience, and get connected to contacts in sports and recreation

Industry Research

Experiential Learning

  • The Edge
  • Work part time or intern in a sports and recreation environment such as parks, sports teams, coaching rec sports, camps/counselor, and Rec-PAC. 
  • Get involved with a student organization affiliated with sports and recreation.

Job Search

Professional Associations

Job Functions

Athletes and Sports Competitors

Participate in organized, officiated sports events to entertain spectators

Umpires, referees, and other sports officials

Preside over competitive athletic or sporting events. They detect infractions and decide penalties according to the rules of the game

Coaches and scouts

Coaches teach amateur and professional athletes the skills they need to succeed at their sport. Scouts look for new players, evaluating athlete's strengths and weaknesses as possible recruits. Many coaches also scout out new talent.

Recreation workers

Professionals design and lead leisure activities for groups in volunteer agencies or recreation facilities, such as playgrounds, parks, camps, and senior centers. They may lead activities in areas such as arts and crafts, sports, games, music, and camping.

Recreational therapists

Recreational therapists plan, direct, and coordinate recreation programs for people with disabilities or illnesses. They use a variety of techniques, including arts and crafts, drama, music, dance, sports, games, and field trips. These programs help maintain or improve a client's physical and emotional well-being.

Conservation scientists and foresters

These professionals manage overall land quality of forests, parks, rangelands, and other natural resources.