How To Become an Equipment Manager

Updated June 24, 2022

Sports teams and athletic departments employ many staffers to support the athletes and coaches. Many of these support roles are excellent for people interested in working in the athletic industry without playing as a professional athlete. Equipment managers are one of these support staffers who handle a team or department's equipment needs. In this article, we explain what an equipment manager is, describe what equipment managers do, provide steps for becoming an equipment manager, offer the salary information for equipment managers and highlight common skills for the role.

Related: 25 Jobs in Professional Sport

What is an equipment manager?

An equipment manager oversees a team's equipment, often including uniforms and practice materials, to ensure the players and coaches have the supplies they need for practices and games. Equipment managers often perform other related duties to keep sporting equipment in usable function and ensure the team or player has the gear they require, no matter where they're competing.

Related: 11 Sports Management Jobs

What does an equipment manager do?

Equipment managers' duties can vary depending on whether they work for a college athletic department, a professional sports team or a sporting facility. Common job duties regardless of employer often include:

  • Preparing practice equipment: Most equipment managers will place freshly laundered practice apparel or individual sporting equipment in the athlete's lockers prior to a practice or game.

  • Ensuring equipment readiness: Equipment managers ensure the sports equipment is in optimal shape by adding air to balls, washing dirty equipment and patching gear as needed.

  • Setting up practice drills: Some equipment managers set up practice drills with cones or other tools as requested by the coaching staff.

  • Collaborating with coaches: Many equipment managers regularly work with the coaching staff to ensure they're meeting the team or player's equipment needs.

  • Inventorying equipment: Regularly counting and checking the team or department's equipment is an important duty for equipment managers.

  • Ordering new equipment as needed: When equipment is no longer usable, equipment managers must order replacement gear.

  • Packing equipment for events: Equipment managers must pack equipment for their team or player's away games or matches.

  • Maintaining uniforms: Some equipment managers are also responsible for caring for the team's uniforms.

Related: 15 Highest Paying Jobs in Sports

How to become an equipment manager

Follow these steps to become an equipment manager:

1. Finish high school

Most employers expect their equipment managers to have a high school diploma or GED at a minimum. While in high school, acquaint yourself with a variety of sports and learn about their equipment needs to prepare for a future role as an equipment manager.

2. Consider where you want to work

Equipment managers can work for a variety of employers, including:

  • High schools

  • Colleges

  • Professional sports teams

  • Athletic facilities

Consider where you would most like to work and whether you'd prefer to work with a single sport, like a professional football team, or with a variety of sports and athletes, like at a college or high school.

3. Earn a degree

Not every equipment manager has a post-secondary degree, but for competitive positions like equipment managers with professional sports teams, a college degree can help give you an edge over other applicants. In addition to sports management classes, consider taking some business classes to help build your skill set for negotiating and working with team sponsors for uniforms and equipment.

4. Gain certification

The Athletic Equipment Managers Association, or AEMA, is the most reputable certifying body in the equipment management field. They offer a certification for equipment managers who meet certain prerequisites and requirements. Certified equipment managers must continue their educations and attend industry conferences and workshops to maintain their credentials.

5. Develop your skills

Ask to shadow equipment managers in your area to learn more about the day-to-day specifics of the role. Take time to develop the necessary skills and competencies to work as an equipment manager yourself before applying for a full-time position. Consider an internship or other entry level role to help build your resume.

6. Seek employment

After you've developed your resume, apply for equipment manager jobs in your chosen field. Highlight your education, credentials, skills and relevant work experience both in your resume and in your cover letter to show you're the ideal candidate for the position.

Related: 10 Careers in Sports

Salary for equipment managers

Equipment managers perform important job duties for the sports teams or athletic organizations they work for and are usually well compensated for their efforts. According to Indeed, the average salary for an equipment manager is $66,930 per year. A number of factors can impact the actual salary you can expect to make as an equipment manager, including:

  • Employer: Generally, professional sports teams and large, sports-focused colleges have much larger budgets for athletic support staff than public high schools or local sports facilities might, leading to higher pay for equipment managers in these specific jobs.

  • Experience: In most cases, the more experience you have as an equipment manager, the more money you can expect to make.

  • Certification: Many employers recognize and reward the AEMA certified equipment manager credential and may pay a higher salary for those who have this certification.

  • Location: Typically, equipment managers in big cities where the cost of living is high earn more than those equipment managers who live in lower cost-of-living regions.

Related: 6 of the Best Alternative Careers in Sports

Skills for an equipment manager

Most equipment managers share certain skills, abilities and attributes that make them excellent at their jobs. Common skills for equipment managers include:

  • Sports knowledge: All equipment managers must have some understanding of how sports function and the basic equipment and needs of the players for practices and games.

  • League rules: If the equipment manager works for a specific team or facility participating in amateur or professional games, they should understand league rules, particularly as they apply to which equipment is allowed or not allowed during official games or matches.

  • Communication abilities: Equipment managers should be able to clearly and effectively communicate with players, coaches and other support staff to ensure all members of the organization have the equipment, gear and tools they need.

  • Math skills: Inventorying and ordering equipment requires some basic math competencies.

  • Organization abilities: Keeping the equipment room organized and easy to access is a necessary skill for equipment managers.

  • Decision-making skills: Often, equipment managers must make decisions about which equipment is still safe to use and which pieces should get thrown out. Decision-making abilities are important for this job.

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