The role of a sports agent involves advising athletes when it comes to public image and the business side of athletics. Anyone who enjoys sports, mentoring people, and negotiating contracts might consider becoming a sports agent. Before deciding to pursue this career path, it is important to become familiar with the job duties, salary, and required education and training.
Recruiting athletes is a major part of this job, as this is how sports agents make sure they always have clients to manage. Agents need to first consider the types of athletes they want to help, such as beginners or big names in the athletic world, men or women, soccer players or golfers. Regardless of the types of athletes they are interested in, agents are expected to consistently stay on the lookout for new clients. This may require them to research potential clients who are referred to them, or even make cold calls in an attempt to catch the attention of athletes who need an agent.
Once sports agents acquire athletes for their roster, they are expected to help them negotiate contracts. This requires an understanding of the earning potential of each athlete, in addition to the terms of every contract that is signed. Agents must be able to not only negotiate, but also clearly communicate the terms to their clients.
Public relations can be considered another major job duty for sports agents. In fact, the agents of well-known athletes may spend a large percentage of their time managing the reputation of their clients. They might advise athletes of what to say to the press during any controversy they are in involved in, or they might give statements to reporters when their clients cannot do so on their own. In addition, sports agents are expected to help arrange for ways to get good press for their clients, whether through press conferences or public appearances.
The salary for sports agents can vary quite a bit. According to May 2015 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for sports agents was $62,940, while the mean annual wage was $95,810. The mean hourly wage was estimated at $46 per hour.
In general, sports agents are paid a percentage of the money they negotiate for their athletes. Just as in most industries, certain states pay more for this job. Examples of some of the highest paying states when it comes to sports agents include California, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and New York.
One of the most straightforward ways to prepare for a career as a sports agent is to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sports management. However, related college degrees are also acceptable. Some majors that can help in this industry include finance, public relations, and sales and marketing. Some agents even continue their education and obtain a law degree, or at least take a few classes in sports law in order to learn how to better protect athletes from the threat of lawsuits.
After obtaining a college degree, aspiring agents must pass a test related to the sport in which they plan to help athletes. This ensures they know the rules that athletes must follow in that particular sport. Agents also need to agree to certain ethical standards and pass a background check. At that point they can get started in the field, usually by acting as an agent’s assistant before becoming an independent agent.