So you want to be a ...   

Updated: August 9, 2007, 10:38 AM ET

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This article appeared in the Aug. 13 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

Looking for a job in sports? We might be able to help.

GROUNDSKEEPER
Go to school at: Cal Poly Pomona (B.S., M.S. in Plant Management; major in Turfgrass Management)
Take classes like: Agribusiness Enterprise Management, Landscape Management
Start out as: A golf course assistant

Don't say, "It's just grass" around groundskeepers. To them, it's an art form. And nobody paints a better portrait than Pomona grads, who learn how to plant, manage and manicure a field. Dr. Kent Kurtz, a pioneer in turf management who prepared fields for the Rose Bowl, Super Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and two MLB All-Star games, was a professor in the program. And in a field where jobs tend to outnumber applicants, Valley Crest (the country's largest landscaping company) actively recruits Pomona grads.

SPORTS MARKETER/ADVERTISER
Go to school at: Oregon (B.A., B.S., M.B.A.)
Take classes like: Sports, Business, and Society, Licensing, Sports Sponsorship.
Start out as: An executive assistant, a licensing consultant

M.B.A. students from Warsaw have consulted with everyone from the U.S. Olympic Committee to Nike and Adidas -- and they help ESPN The Magazine crunch the numbers for our annual Franchise Rankings. Grads are placed in jobs at a 90 percent rate and start at around $60,000 per year; notable alums include Adam Antoniewicz, the director of marketing partnerships for NBA China.

TRAINER/NUTRITIONIST
Go to school at: Texas (B.S. in General Kinesiology, M.S. in Kinesiology or Health Education)
Take classes like: Sports Sciences and Nutrition, Exercise Physiology, Exercise and Sports Psychology, Clinical Evaluation of Athletic Injuries
Start out as: An event promoter, a facility manager, an athletic trainer, a strength and conditioning coach

The Austin campus features one of the country's most comprehensive sports programs, both on the field and in the classroom. UT offers a B.S. in General Kinesiology [the study of human movement] with majors ranging from sports management to athletic training in preparing grads for $50,000/year jobs. The program has doubled in size in the past five years to nearly 300 students and leading sports nutrition brand EAS actively recruits Austin students to work on their nutrition products. That is, unless grads are still being trained by others, like Patriots tight end David Thomas and Olympic swimmer Brendan Hansen.

EXEC WHO WANTS TO KEEP LEARNING
Go to school at: Maryland (Graduate Certificate in Sports Management)
Take classes like: Foundations of Sport Management, Sport and Mass Media, Sport Marketing
Start out as: A venue manager, a front office executive
Notable alums: Kevin Plank, founder, Under Armour

If you're already in the sports industry and looking to get a leg up, or are looking to start a new career in sports, Maryland's Office of Professional Studies is launching a one-year graduate certificate in sports management. The brand new program will work closely with the six major pro franchises in the Washington-Baltimore area, with UMD's vast athletics department, and with local industry players from SFX to XM Sports. And Maryland already carries a good name in the sports world, thanks to Under Armour founder Kevin Plank.

SPORTS PSYCHOLOGIST
Go to school at: Florida State University (M.S., Ph.D.)
Take classes like: Social Bases of Physical Activity, Stress and Performance in Sports
Start out as: A researcher; a mental conditioning coach

The mind is as fragile as any other part of an athlete's body. So it's not surprising that a school with one of the country's top athletic programs would place such a heavy emphasis on sports psychology. FSU has one of the oldest and most competitive programs in the country. One notable feature: allowing students to conduct practical work with the school's own athletes. That can eventually lead to AASP [Association for Applied Sport Psychology] certification; an absolute necessity in establishing a practice. Grads start out earning about $40,000 a year, largely as researchers, but aim for careers resembling alum Jean Williams, a leader in the field who has penned numerous books.

COLLEGE SPORTS ADMINISTRATOR
Go to school at: Louisville (B.S. and M.S. in Sports Administration, Ph.D. in Educational Administration/Educational Leadership and Organizational Development)
Take classes like: Principles of Sports Administration, Financial Principles in Sport, Sport Facility Management
Start out as: A sales assistant; a promotions manager

Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich was named the country's top AD of the year by SportsBusiness Journal, so it's not surprising that Louisville offers such a comprehensive college sports curriculum. The program is endorsed by the North American Society for Sport Management because it covers all the necessary areas to make a successful administrator, including law, finance, and facility management. Throw in electives that teach fundraising, NCAA compliance and even how to bid for and host Division I athletic events, and you can see how grads are on the fast track toward running an athletic department (even if they only start out making $27,000 a year).

STATISTICAL ANALYST
Go to school at: MIT (M.B.A)
Take classes like: Sports Analytics
Start out as: A consultant; a researcher

Details: Do you fancy yourself as the next Bill James, read "Moneyball" repeatedly or simply keep an absurd number of stats at home? Then if you've got the grades, MIT (ranked fourth in US News) is the place for you. The school that produced famed sports statistician Jeff Sagarin is now churning out general managers who find new ways to use numbers in evaluating talent. Take Daryl Morey, who started teaching at MIT's Sloan School of Management while working for the Celtics in 2004 and is now the Houston Rockets' GM. Dozens of other franchises have turned to Sloan faculty and students, looking for the next Morey. And last year, despite the league's second-worst record, the Celtics still managed to increase attendance by 8 percent, thanks to new MIT software that measured more than 200 ticket-pricing scenarios. Perhaps that's why the grads earn an average of $102,000 to start and boast a 94 percent placement rate.

GOLF COURSE MANAGER
Go to school at: Ferris State University (PGA-accredited certificate in Pro Golf Management)
Take classes like: Fundamentals of Golf Instruction, Professional Golf Management Internship
Start out as: An assistant professional; a director of golf

Say this about the program: When you're in, you're in. The first officially credited PGA of America program (there are now 18) offers a 100 percent job placement rate. The Big Rapids, MI school teaches golf fundamentals for the links and the boardroom, making use of a learning lab where students learn everything from maintenance to hospitality, before heading out to $30,000/year jobs. Grads have landed at some of the country's best courses, including John Lyberger, the director of golf at Congressional Country Club, outside Washington, D.C.

GOLF COURSE DESIGNER
Go to school at: Edinburgh College of Art (M.S. in Golf Course Architecture)
Take classes like: History of Landscaping Design, Golf Course Strategy
Start out as: A golf course architect; an agronomist

What better place to learn how to build the perfect golf course than the land where the sport was born? Just hop across the pond to Scotland for a program that champions course creativity while stressing the fine arts of drainage, irrigation and grassland management.

MOTORSPORTS MANAGER
Go to school at: Belmont Abbey College (B.A. in Business Management -- major in Motorsports Management)
Take classes like: Team Management, Sports Marketing, Motorsports Fundamentals
Start out as: A sponsorship associate, a manager

Located just 15 minutes from Charlotte, Belmont Abbey College started the country's first, four-year bachelor's Motorsports Management program last year. Partnered with Lowe's Motor Speedway, the young program is expected to help fill more than 24,000 motorsports industry jobs in the state of North Carolina.

UNDECIDED
Go to school at: Arizona State (B.A. or B.S. in management or marketing, M.B.A.)
Take classes like: Sports Business and Revenue Generation, Law and Politics of Sports Business, and Negotiation, Relationship, and Alliance Management
Start out as: A marketing manager or a project manager

You know you want to work in sports, but haven't quite figured out what gig you want. That's where ASU's first-class undergrad and M.B.A. sports programs come in, placing grads in sports at an 89 percent rate with $64,000/yr salaries. Named the top Sports Business MBA program by SportsBusiness Journal in 2004, ASU'S W.P. Carey School of Business provides the managerial, financial, and statistical tools necessarily to pursue just about any field in sports.


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