Coaches teach amateur or professional athletes the skills they need to succeed at their sport.
Coaches and scouts often work irregular hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. Full-time coaches usually work more than 40 hours a week for several months during the sports season. Coaches travel frequently to sporting events. Scouts may be required to travel more extensively when searching for talented athletes.
How to Become a Coach or Scout
Coaches and scouts typically need a bachelor’s degree. They also must have extensive knowledge of the game. Coaches typically gain this knowledge through their own experiences playing the sport at some level. Although previous playing experience may be beneficial, it is typically not required for most scouting jobs.
The median annual wage for coaches and scouts was $34,840 in May 2019.
Employment of coaches and scouts is projected to grow 12 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Increasing participation in high school and college sports may boost demand for coaches and scouts.
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 also are 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’ performances
- 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 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 particular plays to practice. During competition, coaches call specific plays intended to surprise or overpower the opponent, and they may substitute players to achieve 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.
Coaches may assign specific drills and correct athletes’ techniques. They may also spend their time working one-on-one with athletes, designing customized training programs for each individual. Coaches may specialize in teaching the skills of an individual sport, such as tennis, golf, or ice skating. Some coaches, such as baseball coaches, may teach individual athletes involved in team sports.
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 their 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.
Coaches and scouts held about 292,000 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of coaches and scouts were as follows:
|Arts, entertainment, and recreation||20%|
|Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private||20|
|Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private||18|
Some scouts work for organizations that deal directly with high school athletes. These scouts collect information on the athlete and help sell his or her talents to potential colleges.
At the college level, scouts typically work for scouting organizations or are self-employed. In either case, they help colleges recruit the best high school athletes.
Scouts who work at the professional level are typically employed by the team or organization directly.
Those people who coach and scout for outdoor sports may be exposed to all weather conditions of the season. In addition, they must travel often to attend sporting events. This is particularly true for those in professional sports.
Work hours can vary for coaches and scouts and may include evenings, weekends, and holidays. Professional or college coaches may work additional hours during the sport’s season.
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of coaches and scouts.
Athletes and sports competitors participate in organized, officiated sporting events to entertain spectators.
Athletic trainers specialize in preventing, diagnosing, and treating muscle and bone injuries and illnesses.
Dietitians and nutritionists advise people on what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve a specific health-related goal.
Fitness trainers and instructors lead, instruct, and motivate individuals or groups in exercise activities.
High school teachers teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market.
Kindergarten and elementary school teachers instruct young students in basic subjects in order to prepare them for future schooling.
Middle school teachers educate students, typically in sixth through eighth grades.
Umpires, referees, and other sports officials preside over competitive athletic or sporting events to help maintain standards of play.
For more information about coaching and scouting for team and individual sports, visit
For more information related to individual sports, refer to the organization that represents the sport.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Coaches and Scouts,