The coaching and sports training industry was on solid footing at the end of the decade. A stronger economy had produced an uptick in disposable income, and more people were participating in sports. The world’s focus on combating obesity with healthy nutrition and fitness programs also boded well for the industry. For example, the White House created a Task Force on Childhood Obesity and introduced the Lets Move! program to raise awareness of the importance of a balanced, healthy diet and physical activity.
The Department of Labor predicts that coaches and scouts will have 11 percent employment growth through 2028, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. As of May 2018, approximately 290,100 coaches and scouts are employed in the United States. About 21 percent work in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector, with colleges, universities, and professional schools a close second at 20 percent. Elementary and secondary schools account for 18 percent of employment. Only 11 percent of coaches and scouts are self-employed. More students are participating in high school and college sports, which will create more job opportunities for coaches and scouts. The states that employ the greatest number of coaches included California, Texas, Washington, Ohio, and Illinois. High school enrollment is expected to increase in the next few years; as more athletic programs are added to meet the needs of the growing student body, more coaches will be needed. Increased participation in college sports is projected, with growth especially strong in small, Division-III colleges and in women’s sports. Small colleges are expanding their athletic programs and creating new sports teams to catch the attention of potential students. One possible drawback may be the new rules that allow an increase in scholarship funding to student-athletes, which could cut the funding for sports programs at small colleges.
Competition for college-level coaching positions and college-level and professional scouts will continue to be intense. There will be more job opportunities for high-school level coaches who have a degree or are certified to teach academic subjects. Also, since more girls and women are participating in sports teams and leagues, there will be employment opportunities for coaches in girls’ and women’s sports.
There were approximately 356,900 fitness trainers and instructors employed in the United States in May 2018, and that number is projected to increase by 13 percent through 2028, according to the Department of Labor, a rate that is much faster than the average. The top cities for employment of fitness trainers and instructors are New York City; Chicago; Los Angeles; Boston; and Washington, D.C. Employment growth will come from the incentives that businesses, government, and insurance companies give to their employees to join gyms or health clubs. Some companies may open their own gyms and fitness facilities on site to make it convenient for employees to stay fit and healthy. The continued emphasis on staying active for good health and weight control, particularly with the baby-boom generation, will also create more jobs for fitness trainers and instructors.
Thanks to modern science and medicine, people are living longer and are staying healthier and active in their older years than past generations. The National Institute on Aging reports that “on a global level, the 85-and-over population is projected to increase 351 percent between 2010 and 2050, compared to a 188 percent increase for the population aged 65 or older and a 22 percent increase for the population under age 65.” This increased life expectancy means older people will continue to need low-impact exercise programs, such as water aerobics, yoga, and Pilates, to stay flexible, maintain core strength and stamina, and to prevent injuries and illnesses. Fitness trainers and instructors with professional certification and higher levels of formal education in fitness and health will have better chances of securing work than those with less education and credentials.
Athletic trainers are expected to have the best job opportunities in the coming years, with 19 percent employment growth projected through 2028, according to the Department of Labor. This faster than average growth is due to heightened awareness of sports-related injuries, such as concussions, and increased demand for athletic trainers as part of sports programs. Some states require that secondary schools employ athletic trainers to be onsite at practices and games. There were approximately 31,100 athletic trainers employed in the United States in May 2018. The majority work in colleges, universities, and professional schools, health practitioners’ offices, hospitals, recreation and amusement industries, and elementary and secondary schools. The growth of the older population, with more middle-aged and elderly people staying active than ever before, will also create jobs for athletic trainers, who will be needed to help people maintain fitness and recover for sports-related injuries. Athletic trainers will also be needed by organizations to help injured employees recover from injuries and also to educate and train people to ensure fewer injuries occur. Athletic trainers will also continue to be employed on military bases to train and rehabilitate military personnel who have been injured. Job opportunities will be best for athletic trainers with a bachelor’s or master’s degree and certification in athletic training.
Coaching and sports training rely on in-person teaching and teamwork. With institutions such as gyms, pools, stadiums, and fitness centers closed or operating at reduced capacity due to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, many workers in this field found themselves out of a job, on hiatus, working at a much lower level, or via online interactions. Schools shut down athletics programs as learning transferred to remote platforms, and school coaches had little work to do. Although professional sports leagues continued their training and games despite the absence of fans in the stadium seats, some experienced long disruptions in early 2020.
Post pandemic, remote platforms for exercise, online classes, and personal training are expected to continue being popular. In addition, according to a Bloomberg.com article, the fitness industry has experienced growth during the pandemic in the areas of yoga and mindfulness-related classes. As the pandemic is becoming more contained, more people are starting to combine online with in-person workouts. Brick-and-mortar gyms will probably continue to offer these hybrid workouts post pandemic. As cited in the article, "while 75 percent of consumers surveyed said they will eventually return to pre-pandemic routines and the actual gym, many indicated they will retain a virtual component – a phenomenon with broad implications for the sector."
The market researcher IBISWorld projected a nearly 6 percent decline in revenue for the sports coaching industry in 2020 due to the pandemic. Growth is expected through 2025, however, as sports participation increases after the pandemic ends and face-to-face interactions become safe again. There will also be increased governmental and promotional support for participation in sports, which will increase the demand for sports instructors and sports coaches.