Want to work in the NFL? Here's a few career paths to consider.
This summer the Professional Football Writers of America awarded Pittsburgh Steelers communications coordinator Burt Lauten and his staff with the Pete Rozelle Award, given annually to the NFL club public relations department that exemplifies excellence in dealing with the media. Lauten's team received recognition for the way they work with reporters, columnists, and TV crew and how they provide guidance to media personnel covering stories. Lauten and his staff are an example of the many employees who work behind the scenes to bring professional football to the public. During the 2012 to 2013 season, the NFL expanded its staff 20 percent to nearly 2,000 employees, including those working in the league office, on game-day operations, on the NFL Network, and at NFL Films. Each team also has its own staff, which includes everything from public relations and sales personnel to medical staff and food service directors. If you like pro football and you think you might enjoy working for the NFL, here are a few career paths to consider.
Sales and Marketing
Forbes sports business writer Tom Van Riper says one of the best entry-level paths to getting a job in sports is sales. Common entry-level sports sales and marketing positions include group ticket sales representative, e-marketing manager, and marketing analyst. You don't necessarily need a degree to pursue this career path, but a bachelor's in marketing or business will give you an edge over other applicants. The NFL's Junior Rotational Program sometimes offers marketing and sales internship opportunities. Individual team websites also post job openings.
Becoming a customer service representative is another way to get your foot in the door. For instance, Peggy Prebelski started her career path in the Green Bay Packers Pro Shop customer service representative call center in 2004 after graduating with a B.S. in communications. After being promoted to customer service and training manager in 2007, she was named the team's director of retail operations this year. Other entry-level customer service jobs involve organizing events in a position such as a client service assistant. If you're considering getting into customer service, Monster.com recommends that you develop proficiency with typing and MS Word. Being proficient in other office software and Spanish can also help, and some customer service positions require a certificate or degree.
Public Relations and Media
Public relations represents another good way to break into a career working in sports. Public relations assistant, sports information department assistant, media tracking account associate, and television researcher are a few entry-level positions that can get you started. If you're interested in pursuing a PR career path, a degree in communications is recommended. Keeping up with the latest NFL news by following sites such as Dish's The Dig will also help you keep in touch with football PR and media trends that could represent career opportunities. The NFL's Junior Rotational Program and Summer Internship Program periodically offer public relations and media positions. To qualify for the latter, you should maintain a GPA of at least 3.0. NFL News also offers internships for college students and recent graduates with specialized media skills in areas such as audio, graphics, and cinematography.
Finance and Accounting
Having financial skills is another way to get a job with the NFL. The league has financial specialists in its front office, and each team also has positions such as accounting manager, staff accountant, payroll supervisor, and accounts payable assistant. If you want to work in this area, getting at least a bachelor's degree in finance or accounting is a must. The NFL offers finance and accounting internship opportunities through its Junior Rotational and Summer Internship programs.