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Working as a Coach

While you may have grown up resenting your basketball coach for making you run so much, you probably realize now how important they were in your life. Did you know that coaches have an odd schedule when it comes to earning their paycheck? Instead of working 9-5, they often work evenings, weekends and holidays.

On top of that, coaches are relied on for working more than your average 40 hours a week, especially during the sports season. So on top of supporting, encouraging and motivating their players, coaches also work crazy hours. This perspective makes you have a little more respect for your high school tennis coach, doesn't it?

What Does a Coach Do

Coaches teach amateur and professional athletes the skills they need to succeed at their sport. Scouts look for new players, evaluating their skills and likelihood for success at the college, amateur, or professional level. Many coaches are also involved in scouting potential athletes.


Coaches typically do the following:

  • Plan, organize, and conduct practice sessions
  • Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of individual athletes and opposing teams
  • Plan strategies and choose team members for each game
  • Provide direction, encouragement, and motivation to prepare athletes for games
  • Call plays and make decisions about strategy and player substitutions during games
  • Plan and direct physical conditioning programs that enable athletes to achieve maximum performance
  • Instruct athletes on proper techniques, game strategies, sportsmanship, and the rules of the sport
  • Keep records of athletes’ and opponents’ performance
  • Identify and recruit potential athletes
  • Arrange for and offer incentives to prospective players

Coaches teach professional and amateur athletes the fundamental skills of individual and team sports. They hold training and practice sessions to improve the athletes' form, technique, skills, and stamina. Along with refining athletes’ individual skills, coaches are also responsible for instilling in their players the importance of good sportsmanship, a competitive spirit, and teamwork.

Many coaches evaluate their opponents to determine game strategies and to establish specific plays to practice. During competition, coaches call specific plays intended to surprise or overpower the opponent, and they may substitute players for optimum team chemistry and success.

Many high school coaches are primarily academic teachers or other school administrators who supplement their income by coaching part time.

Some people who teach the fundamental skills of individual and teams sports may be known as sports instructors rather than coaches. Like coaches, sports instructors hold practice sessions, assign specific drills, and correct athletes' techniques. They may spend their time working one-on-one with athletes, designing customized training programs for each individual. Sports instructors may specialize in teaching athletes the skills of an individual sport, such as tennis, golf, or karate. Some sports instructors, such as pitching instructors in baseball, may teach individual athletes involved in team sports.

However, many sports instructors work with people who simply have an interest in learning a new sport rather than athletes competing in events. For example, a skiing instructor may give individual or group lessons to those interested in learning how to ski.

Scouts typically do the following:

  • Read newspapers and other news sources to find athletes to consider
  • Attend games, view videotapes of the athletes’ performances, and study statistics about the athletes to determine talent and potential
  • Talk to the athlete and the coaches to see if the athlete has what it takes to succeed
  • Report to the coach, manager, or owner of the team for which he or she is scouting
  • Arrange for and offer incentives to prospective players

Scouts evaluate the skills of both amateur and professional athletes. Scouts seek out top athletic candidates for colleges or professional teams and evaluate their likelihood of success at a higher competitive level.

How To Become a Coach

Coaches and scouts typically need a bachelor’s degree. They must also have 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.


College and professional coaches must usually have a bachelor’s degree. This degree can typically be in any subject. However, some coaches may decide to study exercise and sports science, physiology, kinesiology, nutrition and fitness, physical education, and sports medicine.

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.

Scouts must also typically have a bachelor’s degree. Some scouts decide to get a degree in business, marketing, sales, or sports management.

Other Experience

College and professional coaching jobs also typically require experience playing the sport at some level.

Scouting jobs typically do not require experience playing a sport at the college or professional level, but it can be beneficial. Employers look for applicants with a passion for sports and an ability to spot young players who have exceptional athletic ability and skills.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most state high school athletic associations require coaches to be certified or at least complete mandatory education courses.

Certification often requires coaches to be a minimum age (at least 18 years old) and be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid. Some states also require coaches to attend classes related to sports safety and coaching fundamentals prior to becoming certified. For information of specific state coaching requirements, contact the state’s high school athletic association or visit the National Association of State Boards of Education.

Although most public high school coaches need to meet these state requirements in order to become a coach, certification may not be required for coaching and sports instructor jobs in private schools.

Some schools may require coaches to have a teaching license and complete a background check.

Certification requirements for college coaching positions also vary.

Additional certification may be highly desirable or even required in order to become an instructor in scuba diving, tennis, golf, karate, or other individual sports. There are many certifying organizations specific to the various sports, and their requirements vary.

Part-time workers and those in smaller facilities or youth leagues are less likely to need formal education or training and may not need certification.


To reach the ranks of professional coaches, a candidate usually needs years of coaching experience and a winning record at a college. Some coaches may not have previous coaching experience but are nevertheless hired at the professional level due to their success as an athlete in that sport.

Some college coaches begin their careers as graduate assistants or assistant coaches to gain the knowledge and experience needed to become a head coach. Large schools and colleges that compete at the highest levels require a head coach with substantial experience at another school or as an assistant coach.

Other college coaches may start 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.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Because coaches instruct, organize, and motivate athletes, they must have excellent communication skills. They must effectively communicate proper techniques, strategies, and rules of the sport so every player on the team understands.

Decisionmaking skills. Coaches must choose the appropriate players to use at a given position at a given time during a game and know the proper time to utilize game-managing tools such as timeouts. Coaches and scouts also must be very selective when recruiting players from lower levels of athletics.

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 recruit potential players.

Leadership skills. Coaches must demonstrate good leadership skills to get the most out of athletes. They also must be able to motivate, develop, and direct young athletes.

Resourcefulness. Coaches must find a strategy and develop a game plan that yields the best chances for winning. Coaches often need to create original plays or formations that provide a competitive advantage and confuse opponents.

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Average Salary$44,589
Job Growth Rate11%

Coach Career Paths

Top Careers Before Coach

8.8 %

Top Careers After Coach

8.0 %

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Average Salary for a Coach

Coaches in America make an average salary of $44,589 per year or $21 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $78,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $25,000 per year.
Average Salary

Best Paying Cities

Average Salary
Piscataway, NJ
Salary Range43k - 93k$64k$63,671
Rochester, NY
Salary Range37k - 82k$55k$55,393
Urban Honolulu, HI
Salary Range42k - 72k$55k$55,318
Laredo, TX
Salary Range37k - 79k$54k$54,261
Seattle, WA
Salary Range35k - 74k$51k$51,296
San Francisco, CA
Salary Range34k - 70k$50k$49,553

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Coach Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Coach. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Coach Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Coach resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

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Coach Demographics



49.2 %


46.0 %


4.8 %



69.4 %

Hispanic or Latino

12.2 %

Black or African American

8.7 %

Foreign Languages Spoken


58.1 %


11.9 %


3.8 %
See More Demographics

Coach Education


17.2 %



52.2 %


16.4 %

High School Diploma

12.9 %

Top Colleges for Coachs

1. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition

2. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition

3. California State University - Bakersfield

Bakersfield, CA • Public

In-State Tuition

4. San Diego State University

San Diego, CA • Public

In-State Tuition

5. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition

6. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN • Public

In-State Tuition

7. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Public

In-State Tuition

8. University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA • Public

In-State Tuition

9. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, IL • Public

In-State Tuition

10. Howard University

Washington, DC • Private

In-State Tuition
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Top Skills For a Coach

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 23.3% of coaches listed customer service on their resume, but soft skills such as communication skills and dedication are important as well.

  • Customer Service, 23.3%
  • CPR, 8.3%
  • Communication, 7.9%
  • Action Plans, 5.7%
  • Safety Rules, 4.6%
  • Other Skills, 50.2%
  • See All Coach Skills

Best States For a Coach

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a coach. The best states for people in this position are New Jersey, New York, Hawaii, and Wyoming. Coaches make the most in New Jersey with an average salary of $63,978. Whereas in New York and Hawaii, they would average $55,245 and $55,070, respectively. While coaches would only make an average of $53,612 in Wyoming, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Wyoming

Total Coach Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. New Jersey

Total Coach Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Arizona

Total Coach Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Coach Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ coaches and discovered their number of coach opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that YMCA of Greater Indianapolis was the best, especially with an average salary of $25,044. Sitel follows up with an average salary of $61,500, and then comes with an average of $57,713. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a coach. The employers include WellSpan Health, Assurant, and Humana

1. YMCA of Greater Indianapolis
Avg. Salary: 
Coachs Hired: 
2. Sitel
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4. T-Mobile
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5. Coach
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6. Beachbody
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