10 Rewarding Careers for Hopeful College Athletes the Scouts Passed By


One of the hardest things about being a parent of a disappointed college athlete is helping them get through their senior year at university when the pro scouts have come and gone without showing any interest whatsoever. They had worked long and hard throughout all their JV and Varsity years to get that full ride to college and when the pro scouts made their rounds, they were passed by without so much as an offer even from low-ranking teams. How do you help that young adult who loves sports with everything in their being but was unable carry that love over to pro sports?

It may seem like a consolation prize now, but there really are careers within the sports industry that will keep them in a field they love while enabling them to make a decent wage. Maybe you could interest them in one of the following careers. They will still be active in the world of pro sports, only not as a player. One of these just might motivate them to go for that Master’s Degree that will open several doors to their future.

1. Sports Journalism

Of all the careers in sports for athletes who didn’t make the pros, this might be the most interesting of all. It is an opportunity to follow their favorite teams’ progress throughout each season, and who better than an athlete who spent years on the court or in the field? In fact, this is a career with an unlimited ceiling for growth and one that can be pursued while working their way up the ladder. It is possible to study for an online Master of Arts in Sports Journalism from a highly ranked school like St. Bonaventure University. Start small with local sports news and, over time, with an advanced education and experience in the field, it is possible to get a foot in the door with a national syndication.

2. Athletic Coach

This is another career that can be quite rewarding for an athlete who’s had their hopes dashed in the home stretch. Not only is it possible to teach budding athletes what it takes to be a team player, but as one who was left behind, there is much that can be taught in the realm of good sportsmanship. The salary of a coach varies from school district to school district as well as at the level they are coaching. While the salary isn’t what you’d make as a pro athlete, it’s nothing to laugh at either.

3. Team Trainer

Oddly, this is a job that is nothing like the name sounds! During your tenure as a school athlete, there were probably multiple injuries sustained in the course of a game. A team trainer, as you know, doesn’t train the team in the rudiments of the sport but rather in working out those muscles and bruised bones as the player begins to heal. It’s related to a sports physical therapist, but different in that the trainer typically travels with the team.

4. College or Pro Scout

Now, doesn’t this sound super interesting from the perspective of a hopeful athlete who didn’t capture the interest of a pro scout? Maybe you’ve learned what it was that you could have done differently to grab the notice of the scouts. Many athletes who have been passed by over the years understood that it wasn’t necessarily their playing aptitude that was the problem. Sometimes it’s a personality conflict or even the way they handled themselves on the field. It’s hard to know exactly why you weren’t chosen, even if your stats were among the best. It happens. It just might be that you didn’t have what a team was looking for and so your particular skills didn’t match the team’s needs. This is something you can work on as a scout so that you can give each and every athlete a fair shot. You won’t make it personal.

5. Team Manager

You are probably going to absolutely love this career if it’s money that motivates you. If you land a job as a team manager, especially in the majors, you can earn a salary fit for a king! No, you won’t make the amount of money you would as a Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods, but you will be able to easily afford that sprawling estate in Hollywood Hills. However, it may take years to work your way up to being the team manager of a high-ranking pro team, but when you get there, your earning potential is much greater than you might believe. Did you know that Major League Baseball managers average over $3 million a year? That’s more than many doctors make.

6. Umpire or Referee

How many games have you played over the years when you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the umpire or ref made a terribly bad call? You’ve heard angry fans from the bleachers screaming in agreement but the call held and the dismayed team or player had to live with it. Some sports don’t have instant playbacks and even then, the angle of the camera may be insufficient to give a fair call. In order to be a well sought-after ump or ref, you need to be quick on your feet and have a keen awareness of everything going on around you. This is not something just anyone can do, but when you’ve made it to the pro field, you can earn a tidy sum of money.

7. Sports Psychologist

No one but a competitive athlete can ever begin to imagine the psychological impact a single loss can have on a player. You understand this quite well as a player who was passed over by the pro scouts. Sports psychology is a career in which you can help athletes work through those feelings of inadequacy. While the bulk of your job won’t be helping athletes deal with not being called up to the pros, you will be helping them through times of frustration and major bouts of depression. This can have a significant impact on their game and this is why most, if not all, pro teams have one or more on the payroll.

8. Sports Photographer

How exciting does it sound to be a sports photographer who just might be on hand to capture that one shot, that career changing photograph, of an athlete making a historic play? Not only will it gain recognition for the player, but for you as well. Perhaps the most widely renowned sports photographer of all time is Neil Leifer who just happened to capture that photograph of Muhammed Ali as he knocked out Sonny Liston in 1965. With a reputation like that, you could get published anywhere, naming your price as you go! The best advice you can be given after you’ve begun making a name for yourself is to remain independent. Yes, in the beginning you may want to sign on with magazines like Sports Illustrated, but once you’ve begun gaining recognition, you’ll make much more by being an independent sports photographer.

9. Sports Medicine

This is a field that’s come under great scrutiny in the past few decades as too many players are being accused of ‘doping up’ before a major game. However, most doctors will not prescribe steroids of any kind and hold to their Hippocratic oath quite seriously. It is a high paying job and requires years of post-graduate study, but it is a career in great need in a country in which sports are the number one pastime in literally every age group. You want to keep your athletes strong and healthy, don’t you? This might be the perfect profession for you.

10. Fitness Director

While not exactly within the sports arena, a fitness director can still work with athletes who want to work out during off-season times. Many find one gym to visit daily and if anyone thinks athletes take it easy when not on the road, they are totally mistaken! You may want to direct an average neighborhood fitness center, but with your background in sports, you’d be best suited to directing a gym that caters to athletes. After all, this is your background, so who better to know what kinds of equipment to furnish and what kind of trainers to hire?

Whether you are seeking a career for yourself because you didn’t quite make it to the pros or are trying to help your child through a rough patch in life, it is good to know there are alternate paths to be followed. It just may be that you will find a career as a sports journalist much more rewarding than you had ever imagined. Then, did you stop to consider that working as a trainer or coach is made possible by your experience in the sport? If you are severely impacted by being passed over, sports psychology might be the field for you but, no matter what direction you choose to move forward in, there is a sports career for you, so all is not lost.

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