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How to Become a Coach or Scout

Coaches and scouts must have immense knowledge of the game, which they usually get through their own experiences playing the sport at some level. Although some jobs require a bachelor’s degree, some entry-level coaching positions require only experience as an athlete or competitor in the sport. Scouting jobs often require experience playing a sport at the college or professional level, which makes it possible to locate young talent.

Education and Training

Although there is no specific education requirement, head coaches at public secondary schools and sports instructors at all levels usually must have a bachelor's degree.

For high school coaching and sports instructor jobs, schools usually prefer, and are sometimes required, to hire teachers to take on these part-time jobs. If no suitable teacher is found, schools hire a qualified candidate from outside the school.

College coaches must usually have a bachelor’s degree. Degree programs specifically related to coaching include exercise and sports science, physiology, kinesiology, nutrition and fitness, physical education, and sports medicine. Some entry-level positions for coaches or instructors require only experience from participating in the sport or activity.

Scouting jobs often require experience playing a sport at the college or professional level. This familiarity makes it possible to spot young players who have exceptional athletic ability and skills.

Most scouts begin working as part-time talent spotters in a particular area or region.


Some sports and localities require coaches to be certified to practice. For example, most public high school coaches need to meet state requirements for certification to become a head coach. Certification, however, may not be required for coaching and sports instructor jobs in private schools. College coaches may be required to be certified. Certification often requires coaches to be a minimum age (at least 18 years old) and certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Participation in a clinic, camp, or school is also usually required for certification.

For those interested in becoming scuba, tennis, golf, karate, or an instructor in another individual sport, certification is highly desirable and may be required. There are many certifying organizations specific to the various sports, and their requirements vary.

Part-time workers and those in smaller facilities are less likely to need formal education or training and may not need certification.


Many coaches begin their careers as assistant coaches to gain the knowledge and experience needed to become a head coach. Large schools and colleges that compete at the highest levels require a head coach with substantial experience at another school or as an assistant coach. To reach the ranks of professional coaches, someone usually needs years of coaching experience and a winning record in the lower ranks or experience as an athlete in that sport.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Because coaches instruct, organize, and motivate athletes, they must have excellent communication skills. They must effectively communicate proper techniques, strategies, and rules of the sport so every player on a team understands.

Decision-making skills. Coaches must choose the appropriate players to use at a given position at a given time during a game and find a strategy that yields the best chance for winning. Coaches and scouts also must be very selective when recruiting players from lower levels of athletics.

Dedication. Coaches must practice daily and direct their team and individual athletes to develop their skills and improve their physical conditioning. Coaches must, therefore, be dedicated to their sport, as it often takes years to become successful.

Interpersonal skills. Being able to relate to athletes may help coaches and scouts to foster positive relationships with their current players and to recruit potential players.

Leadership skills. Coaches must demonstrate good leadership skills to get the most out of athletes. They also must be able to motivate, develop, and direct young athletes.

Resourcefulness. Coaches must use talent on a team that will result in the best chances for winning. For example, a coach may change players during the game to meet the defensive needs of a team.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition