Prospective students considering careers in accounting face an overwhelming number of degree concentration choices. Some students may wonder which concentrations would best assist with their accounting career goals. This page covers sports accounting degree concentrations at the bachelor's and master's levels. Sports accounting programs prepare students to work with athletic teams, agencies, and related organizations.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for accountants across industries to increase 4% from 2018 to 2028, on pace with the national average growth rate for all occupations. Read on to learn more about the exciting career possibilities accompanying a sports accounting concentration.
What Is a Sports Accounting Concentration?
Sports accounting degree programs cover topics including the structure and responsibility of sports management operations, financial and economic analysis as it relates to sports, and industry-specific accounting issues.
In most programs, students can expect to learn skills related to sports and entertainment management structures, marketing, and merchandising.
Sports accounting concentrations appear in business and accounting departments, at both the undergraduate and master's levels. Students may opt to pursue general accounting degrees for their undergraduate studies before specializing in sports accounting or management at the master's level.
Most accounting degree programs prepare students to become certified public accountants (CPAs) after graduation. In most states, CPA certification requires college coursework beyond the typical 120 credits associated with most bachelor's degrees. Therefore, aspiring CPAs usually pursue some post-graduate studies, often in the form of master's degrees. For entry-level accounting work, many employers require CPA credentials.
Sports accounting graduates may work as payroll accountants, auditors, merchandise accountants, or financial controllers for their organizations. Depending on their career goals, students may decide to obtain bachelor's degrees only or continue on to master's-level studies. The section below describes differences between undergraduate and graduate-level sports accounting programs.
Through sports accounting or sports management concentrations, accounting students learn the basics of accounting and business and gain a solid understanding of athletic business practices. Some programs include internships with sports teams.
Available undergraduate degrees for aspiring sports accounting professionals include:
Bachelor of science in accounting with a concentration in sports management
Bachelor of science in business administration with a concentration in sports management
For the most part, aspiring sports accounting professionals prepare to work in the industry by obtaining CPA credentials. For a major career boost, accounting degree-holders may pursue master's degrees specific to the business of sports. These programs expand beyond accounting basics to include information on marketing strategy, entertainment law, and financial management.
Available graduate degrees for aspiring sports accounting professionals include:
MBA in sports management
MBA with a concentration in sports and entertainment management
By pursuing education specific to sports accounting and management, aspiring sports accountants hone skills that set them above job applicants with more general skill sets. While CPAs qualify for athletic-oriented occupations, sports accounting concentrations demonstrate individuals' in-depth knowledge and dedication to the field. The personal and professional benefits accompanying sports accounting concentrations may include:
Pursuing Personal Interests
Prospective accounting professionals interested in sports or entertainment can pursue their passion, learning more about an industry they love while preparing for potentially lucrative positions within it.
When it comes to accounting, employers love to see applicants with knowledge of their particular industry. Whether healthcare, finance, or sports accounting, a strong understanding of industry-specific structures and operations can push a resume to the top of the pile.
Accounting degree programs often focus on preparing students to earn CPA, certified management accountant (CMA), and other industry certifications. Many entry-level jobs require employees to hold industry credentials before they can qualify for accounting positions.
Because most accounting programs prepare students to earn CPA or other industry credentials, sports accounting majors can pivot easily to other accounting occupations if they so desire.
By choosing sports-specific concentrations, students can often connect with top industry professionals through research projects and internships. Many schools maintain strong relationships with high-level employers and can make introductions to kickstart students' careers.
When a Sports Accounting Concentration Is Better Than a General Accounting Degree
When considering the difference between general accounting degrees and sports accounting concentrations, students should consider their personal interests and career goals. Sports accounting and sports management degrees can boost graduates into a competitive industry.
Minimum qualifications for sports accounting jobs may entail general accounting backgrounds, but an ability to demonstrate sports- or entertainment-specific knowledge can call positive attention to candidates' resumes. Students who know they want to work in sports accounting can take advantage of relevant internships and networking opportunities.
When a General Accounting Degree May Be Better Than a Sports Accounting Concentration
Students looking to keep their options open and qualify for the widest variety of job opportunities might consider general accounting over sports accounting. Students with general accounting degrees still gain the skills they need to work in athletic environments, should they pursue that path. However, students may find that a more general degree allows for more flexibility in both career choice and future education. Undergraduate students in particular might want to hone niche skills at the master's level.
What About Other Concentrations?
Aspiring accountants enjoy a wealth of choices when it comes to specializing their degrees. While considering career goals and personal interests, students may focus on areas like auditing, cost accounting, forensic accounting, or information systems. The list below offers resources on these and many more accounting concentration options.
Courses to Expect With a Sports Accounting Concentration
Sports accounting programs vary in terms of structure and objective. While most accounting-based programs prepare students for CPA and other industry credentials, some employ a wider business focus. In most programs, students can expect to learn skills related to sports and entertainment management structures, marketing, and merchandising. Many sports accounting programs also feature research-based capstone projects and internship opportunities.
The list below describes five courses prospective students might encounter when researching academic programs.
Required of most undergraduate accounting students regardless of concentration, managerial accounting focuses on the connection between accounting data and business operations. Students learn to analyze financial statements, measure cost, and report on the relationship between cost, volume, and profit for their organization. Advanced versions of managerial accounting also occur at the master's level.
Financial and Economic Analysis in Sport
Specific to the sports accounting concentration, this course takes the fundamental concepts of finance and economics, which students learn through core accounting courses, and applies these principles to the business of sports. Topics include financial economic analysis related to sports and understanding business decisions.
Typically a follow-up to more general marketing courses, sports marketing courses deepen students' understanding of how those principles relate to sports in particular. By presenting industry-specific marketing problems, this course prepares participants to create and implement marketing plans, work with other departments within the organization, and assess the success of a marketing scheme.
Operations and Supply Chain Management
In a master's-level operations and supply chain management course, students develop their knowledge of managerial concepts, plus the design and maintenance of supply chain systems. Often through hands-on exercises relating to real-life business scenarios, students learn to manage inventory, schedule projects, and manage sports-specific technology needs.
Risk Management in Sport
Common at the master's level, the risk management in sport course deals with financial risks and liability issues facing athletic organizations. It covers risk mitigation, policy development and maintenance, safety guidelines, and federal law related to athletic risks.
Careers for Sports Accounting Degree Graduates
Within the accounting field, graduates can follow their interests in a variety of directions. Just like any other industry, athletic organizations need tax accountants, auditors, and cost accountants. PayScale reports that payroll accountants earn a median annual salary of $54,530. Some positions prefer or require candidates to hold CPA or CMA certification. Entry-level payroll accountants may not need certification, and employers may even assist workers in obtaining those credentials.
Financial executives often boast accounting backgrounds, enabling accounting graduates to aim for lucrative positions. Financial controllers, for example, make an annual median salary of $83,470, according to PayScale. Often, employers expect financial controllers to hold master's degrees.
The list below provides details on careers available to aspiring sports accountants.
Payroll accountants manage personnel-related financial reports to ensure that their organizations adhere to government regulations regarding employee pay. Athletic organizations of all sizes need payroll accountants to oversee various aspects of company operations. Bachelor's degree-holders can typically qualify for jobs as payroll accountants.
Like all organizations, sports teams and athletic agencies rely on accountants to help employers strategize on tax issues. Tax accountants also prepare filings, help their companies take advantage of applicable tax benefits, and ensure their organizations adhere to laws and regulations. Some employers require tax accountants to hold CPA certification.
Sports teams typically sell merchandise, and cost accountants work with merchandising teams to analyze the merchandise value against production cost. They may perform in-depth research and supply reports assessing consumer desires and profit potential. For the most part, employers look for cost accountants holding bachelor's degrees in accounting.
Controllers manage their companies' financial operations, overseeing accounting and budget-related offices. They analyze financial data and collaborate with other executives to make decisions based on their assessments. These professionals prepare financial paperwork and implement policies. Most employers seek financial controllers with field experience and master's degrees.
Auditors comb through their companies' financial data to ensure the accuracy of financial reportings. They may work internally for athletic organizations, like sports teams, or through consulting organizations. Auditors may assess data when problems arise with paperwork, such as tax filings. Most employers require bachelor's degrees at minimum, though they often prefer master's degrees and CPA credentials.
Selecting an Accounting Program With a Sports Accounting Concentration
Choosing the right sports accounting program may present an overwhelming task. Prospective students should consider how factors like accreditation, school size, location, and networking potential may impact their career goals before enrolling.
Students should always make sure their programs of choice hold accreditation. Regional accreditation represents the most rigorous standard of excellence for colleges and universities. Many master's programs do not accept bachelor's degrees from unaccredited schools, and CPA hopefuls must complete required credits through regionally accredited programs.
Prospective sports accounting students should consider where they wish to work after graduation. Those hoping to work for large sports organizations should take location into account. Schools near National Football League or Major League Baseball teams, for example, might partner with these organizations to offer internships, helping students make connections in a competitive industry. Schools' alumni networks and career services offerings may also represent an important consideration.
Prospective students should also consider their personalities and individual preferences. Smaller schools may boast more intimate class sizes, whereas larger schools may feel more active. Prestige, program culture, and extracurricular opportunities all represent important options, depending on the individual.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is spectator sports accounting?
Spectator sports accountants work for national, regional, and local sports teams. These professionals may handle accounting issues and financial data for their employers.
What do sports accountants do?
Sports accountants deal with accounting issues like payroll, taxes, and auditing. With a strong understanding of sports management structure, these accountants apply their knowledge of accounting to industry-specific demands.
How hard is it to get into sports accounting?
Sports accounting proves a competitive job market. By obtaining CPA credentials and focusing on the sports industry, applicants can improve their chances at career success.
What can you do with an accounting degree in sports?
With sports accounting degrees, graduates often qualify to earn CPA credentials, increasing their career options. Sports accountants can work as auditors, tax accountants, and even financial executives.
Can you get a sports accounting degree online?
Yes. Particularly at the master's level, many schools offer online programs emphasizing sports accounting or sports management.
Professional Organizations and Resources
Aspiring and practicing accountants across all specializations can enjoy a wealth of benefits by joining and participating in professional organizations. Setting high standards for accounting practice throughout the country and world, these organizations provide expert career advice, resources, and networking opportunities, such as committee involvement and local chapters. Involved professionals can also take advantage of industry news, research, and advocacy.
American Accounting Association Dedicated to connecting accountants throughout the field and creating innovative solutions to ongoing questions, the AAA emphasizes research and collaboration. Members can access an extensive library, interest-specific subsections, regional chapters, and a career center, which features a job board and opportunities for newcomers to the field.
Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business Overseeing the highly regarded CMA certification process, the IMA focuses on continuing education for accounting and finance professionals. Members benefit from free online courses, a job search center, ethics resources, and networking opportunities through online services, local chapters, and annual conferences.
National Association of Black Accountants NABA's mission centers around supporting black accountants and financial professionals through continuing education, mentorship, and civic participation. With memberships available to students and professionals, NABA offers education and development, student programs, grant opportunities, and local chapter membership.
North American Society for Sports Management Dedicated to professionals working in sports and recreation management, NASSM encourages research and continuing education in the field. NASSM supports members through regular publications, discounted conference attendance, and online member services. The site provides an open job board and career resources.