Sports jobs: Career opportunities for newcomers and specialists

We need your consent to enable the rating function!

This feature is only available when corresponding consent is given. Please read the details and accept the service to enable rating function.


Shortage of skilled workers in the sports industry? Sounds strange, but even the hottest addresses that are dream employers for sports-loving graduates and young professionals are constantly in need. There are job openings for salespeople in sports retail, digital experts for online stores and social media campaigns, and designers.

The sports industry is searching for specialists and problem-tacklers who are specialists in their field.
The sports industry is searching for specialists and problem-tacklers who are specialists in their field.

Sports jobs are considered dream jobs. At least for those who are sports enthusiasts themselves - and that's actually almost everyone who plays sports themselves or at least is a fan of their stars and clubs. Of course, not everyone can become manager of FC Bayern, managing director of the German Soccer League, advisor to Sebastian Vettel or head of Adidas.

But there is a whole range of specialized sports jobs and also new job profiles where it is easier to enter the industry and where companies, clubs and associations are even desperately looking for people.

Great demand for jobs in the sports trade

But let's take it one step at a time. The sector that is actually constantly on the lookout for people willing and motivated to work is sports retail. "Almost everyone in the market is having problems here," says Andy Gugenheimer, head of sportyjob.com, cooperation partner of ISPO Job Market. He knows from his experience, including as a headhunter in the sports scene: "Retail is definitely a super entry point!"

Here, employees get to know the clientele of the entire sports industry and their needs up close. After all, those who shop in sports retail are the target group of the marketing people in the sports companies, buy tickets, follow sports stars on social media, and so on.

The downside of retail and reason for the constant search for junior staff: The salary level is not particularly high and the work is hard. Carrying goods, standing for long periods - even in the evenings and on weekends - are not everyone's cup of tea. On the other hand, applicants already have the sporting pedigree and can get to work - which is also appreciated by manufacturers, clubs, associations and agencies.

Retailers promote their valuable employees

By the way, your career can also continue in retail. From store management to management tasks such as purchasing management at headquarters. Then the working hours can also become more "normal" and the salary increases.

Auf der ISPO treffen sich Sportbegeisterte und potentielle Arbeitgeber.
Auf der ISPO treffen sich Sportbegeisterte und potentielle Arbeitgeber.
Image credit:
Messe München GmbH

Retailers like Foot Locker, however, also try to constantly motivate and thus retain sales staff with sophisticated bonus systems. Others, such as Decathlon, offer a lot of further training and sports opportunities during the lunch break.

Many sports job offers also in eCommerce

The second largest area in which there is currently a strong search is digital business. This is a very broad field, because there are an extremely large number of job variations that are not included in any training plan or university course. For example, IT specialists who develop apps or also market them, onliners with experience in creating Google AdWords or PR newcomers who are absolute specialists for the right tone of voice on Facebook.

Read here: These are the best universities for studying sports management

Here, sports job specialist Andy Gugenheimer sees "that every sports brand wants to accelerate". Ultimately and very strongly with the so-called eCommerce, with their own online stores.

Here, some players in the industry are still in their infancy; there is still a lot of business and thus sales to be made. In eCommerce, people are needed to look after the store with the articles or to formulate the texts around them - the content - in a tasty way for the customers and to prepare them in a way that is suitable for search engines.

Tip: Gain experience with small companies

The goods, the prices, the illustrations - everything must be coordinated in such a way that the purchase becomes an attractive experience. And last but not least, delivery must go smoothly and the customer must keep coming back thanks to newsletters and personal mailings. That's a lot of individual tasks for applicants with training and experience ranging from IT to marketing and retail to journalism/PR.

Andy Gugenheimer recommends: "If you don't find a job right away at Adidas, Puma or Nike in the eCommerce and digital business, you should also look around at the smaller or more specialized sports companies, because in principle the digital business there isn't much different and it's easier to switch to the big ones later with the experience you've gained."

Need to catch up in design and product development

More narrowly defined is the current third major shortage area in the sports jobs sector: design and product development. Basically, all manufacturers have a very great need for innovation. The trend spiral turns ever faster, constantly new "hip" products must be thrown on the market. This requires experts with tangible skills and, above all, with ideas and passion.

This means that a solid education as an engineer or product designer, for example, is beneficial. "Due to the shortage of skilled workers, sports companies also give lateral entrants who have already gained experience on the job and have a talent for design a chance," says sports headhunter Gugenheimer.

Prerequisite in the sports industry: Passion

The topic of passion is common to all the "lack" professions presented here - but also to the other sports jobs: If you want to work in this business, you simply have to "burn" for it. For the superstars and their incredible performances, for the trendy brands and the spirit of the entire industry.

No mean feat, really, because there's hardly any other business where you can turn your passion into a career so perfectly.

Entry via personal contact

The question remains: How can I best convey my passion as an applicant? The answer is, of course, personal contact! Meeting managers and decision-makers from companies, clubs and associations at sporting events in a relaxed atmosphere is, of course, ideal. The easiest way is to look around at the world's largest sports trade show and casually approach exhibitors there.

Sports expert Andy Gugenheimer, who has been through many positions in the sports business across marketing, sales, strategy, and human resources, is the best example: "I've found all the jobs in my career so far at ISPO in Munich."

Gunther Schnatmann Author: Gunther Schnatmann