Sports is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of accounting, but the multi-billion dollar industry has created a rising demand for accountants to organize the financial records of both major and minor league sports franchises. If you have always dreamed of working for your favorite sports teams but are lacking athletic ability, there is still an option to make your dreams come true by becoming a sports accountant. Sports accountants are vital members of professional athletic organizations who ensure that the team has the monetary funds needed to draw in and retain the league’s best players and coaches for winning success.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 1.16 million accountants employed across the nation earn a mean annual salary of $72,500, which is equivalent to $34.86 per hour. In particular, number-crunchers who specialized in working in the spectator sports industry as sports accountants make an average annual wage of $70,980, which is slightly less than the overall profession’s figure.
When just getting started in the industry with little to no work experience, sports accountants can expect to start with an average annual salary of $40,370. Although this seems low, it is important to remember that sports accountants have the potential to greatly increase their salary with additional experience to make over six-figures at $113,740 or more each year.
Depending on their role in the sports industry, accountants can be given a number of different responsibilities in monitoring finances. Sports accountants are often responsible for managing the payroll to make certain that all players, coaches, assistant coaches, trainers, medical staff, and club executives are being appropriately compensated. During tax time, sports accountants usually file all of the organization’s tax forms to report the complex earnings of players, including salary, game bonuses, sponsorships, image rights, and more. At the management level, sports accountants work alongside club executives to evaluate advertising and sponsorship deals to improve profitability. Some sports accountants choose to specialize in merchandise accounting too, which involves managing the inventory and finances of merchandise being sold to fans.
Sports accountants must possess excellent mathematical, analytical, technical, and computing skills to evaluate financial performance as well as identify problems that could put their sports club at risk for financial losses. Since sports teams depend on accountants to create accurate records and forecasts, it is essential that they have solid organizational skills with a good eye for detail. Great communication skills are also a must so that sports accountants can present their findings and provide financial advice effectively to sports clubs managers or owners. Being able to work with other members of the management team is also essential to ensure that sound financial decisions are being made for the franchise.
Degree and Education Requirements
In order to pursue your ambitions of becoming a sports accountant, you will need to receive at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Four-year undergraduate degrees are typically the minimum requirement for obtaining entry-level sports accounting jobs, but an advanced degree is strongly advised for standing out in the highly competitive industry. Most sports accountants have earned a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) or an MBA with a concentration in accounting. Having more advanced academic achievements will lead to a stronger potential for professional success and the opportunity to work your way up the ladder to becoming controller or even Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in large sports organizations.
Pros and Cons of this Position
Working as a sports accountant comes with a large number of advantages that often outweigh the drawbacks for die-hard sports lovers. As a sports accountant, you will likely receive great free tickets to all of your team’s sporting events, spend your workday in a laidback casual work environment where sweatpants are acceptable, and obtain the dream chance to work behind the scenes of your favorite sports team. However, competition for sports accounting jobs is extremely fierce, even for MBAs with perfect grades. After all, there are only around 770 sports accountants working in the United States because there are only so many teams to work for. Since all of your financial reports, forecasts, and estimates will have deadlines, sports accounting typically requires you to work long hours beyond the standard 40-hour week. Sports accountants also need to continually brush up on their skills and stay current with updates.
It is especially important for aspiring sports accountants to get their foot in the door during college by completing a valuable hands-on internship experience with a sports-related agency, even if it is unpaid. After completing the essential degree requirements, the next step towards a career in sports accounting is to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam. In order to have the highest chance at passing and becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), you will need to prepare by taking online practice tests or enrolling in an exam review course. Once you get your license and are able to add the letters CPA to the end of your name, it is time to begin searching for entry-level jobs in sports accounting. Getting started as a sports accountant will generally require you to be willing to relocate and take on some unglamorous tasks at first to truly demonstrate how serious your commitment to sports accounting is.
Despite the fact that the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the overall employment of accountants will grow by 13% with 166,700 new jobs created before 2022, finding a job in sports accounting will remain difficult. In fact, it has been estimated that less than 1% of MBA graduates accepting job offers each year are going to work in the sports industry. In most cases, sports organizations tend to have very lean finance departments and this means that there are a limited number of positions existing. Sports accountants can find the best job prospects by earning a master’s degree, receiving CPA licensure, building extensive work experience in the accounting, and position themselves to enter the universe of sports-related jobs.
In today’s age of massive stadium deals, salary cap restrictions, luxury box seats, booming merchandise sales, and multi-billion dollar contract deals, sports accountants are quickly becoming the most valuable players for sports franchises. Beyond their normal functions in other industries, sports accountants work diligently to pore over the special revenue and expense items that are unique to professional sports to maximize profitability.
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