How to Become a Coach or Scout
Coaches and scouts must have overall knowledge of the game or sport.
Coaches and scouts typically need a bachelor’s degree. However, educational requirements for coaches and scouts may vary from no formal educational credential to a bachelor’s or higher degree. These workers also need extensive knowledge of the sport. Coaches typically gain this knowledge through their own experiences playing the sport at some level. Although previous playing experience may be beneficial, it is not required for most scouting jobs.
Many coaches and scouts have a bachelor's degree, but educational requirements vary. Part-time workers and those in smaller facilities or youth leagues may be less likely to need formal education.
Coaches and scouts who attend college may study a recreation and fitness field, such as kinesiology, physical education, or sports medicine. Others major in a business field, such as marketing or sports management.
High schools typically hire teachers or administrators at the school for most coaching jobs. If no suitable teacher is found, schools hire a qualified candidate from outside the school. For more information on education requirements for teachers, see the profile on high school teachers.
College and professional coaching jobs typically require experience playing the sport at some level.
Scouting jobs may not require experience playing a sport at the college or professional level, but doing so can be beneficial. Employers look for applicants who have a passion for sports and an ability to spot players who have exceptional athletic ability and skills.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Certification often requires that coaches be at least 18 years old and be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid. Coaches also may need to attend classes related to sports safety and coaching fundamentals.
Public high school coaches may need to be certified or complete mandatory education courses. Coaches who are also teachers must meet state licensing requirements, including a background check. For information about specific requirements, contact the state’s high school athletic association or visit the National Federation of State High School Associations.
College and university coaches may need to meet certification or training requirements as outlined by college athletic associations, such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) or the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
Organizations specific to various sports, such as golf or tennis, may offer certification for coaches. Check with the sport’s national governing body for information on approved programs.
To reach the rank of a professional coach, a candidate typically needs years of coaching experience and a winning record at a college. Coaches who do not have coaching experience may still be hired at the professional level if they were successful as an athlete in their sport.
Some college coaches begin their careers as graduate assistants or assistant coaches to gain the experience and knowledge needed to become a head coach. Large schools and colleges that compete at the highest levels require a head coach who has had substantial experience at another school or as an assistant coach.
Other college coaches may begin out as high school coaches before moving up to the collegiate level.
Scouts may begin working as talent spotters in a particular area or region. They typically advance to become supervising scouts responsible for a whole territory or region.
Communication skills. Because coaches instruct, organize, and motivate athletes, they must be able to convey information clearly. They must communicate proper techniques, strategies, and rules of the sport effectively enough for every player on the team to understand.
Decision-making skills. Coaches must choose the appropriate players to use during a game and the proper time to use game-managing tools, such as timeouts. Coaches and scouts also must be selective when recruiting players.
Dedication. Coaches must attend daily practices and assist their team and individual athletes in improving their skills and physical conditioning. Coaches must be dedicated to their sport, as it often takes years to become successful.
Interpersonal skills. Being able to relate to athletes helps coaches and scouts foster positive relationships with their current players and in recruiting potential players.
Leadership skills. Coaches must motivate, develop, and direct athletes to help them reach their potential.
Resourcefulness. Coaches must find and develop a strategy that yields the best chances for winning a competition. Coaches often need to create original plays or formations that provide a competitive advantage and confuse opponents.