Coaches motivate individuals and teams to inspire and improve performance, whether in sports, academics, entertainment or professional career fields. As a coach, you might work at a scholastic, collegiate, professional or personal level and experience longevity and growth opportunities throughout your career. Knowing how much money coaches earn in various fields can help you determine if it's a potential career path you want to explore. In this article, we explore what coaches do, how much they make across various professions or areas of focus and steps to take to increase your salary as a coach.
What do coaches do?
Coaches use their skills and abilities to help individuals, teams and groups improve their performance. As a coach, you apply different methods, like positive reinforcement, for example, to guide advancement and learning. You might focus on teamwork, leadership and strengths rather than noting deficits as a coach. As a coach, you traditionally lead individuals and teams, manage performance expectations and training sessions, coach games and give advice, encouragement and mentorship. Here are some examples of what coaches frequently do:
Your area of expertise may vary as much as your clients. For example, you might be an athletic and sports coach, helping professional athletes reach their prime physical performance, whether for a professional team or a specific competition, like the Olympics. Or you might help business professionals and executives navigate their next career advancement or job change or even help them develop executive presence or public speaking skills. Other coaching options can include voice and vocal coaching for musicians and singers or fitness and nutrition coaching to help people lose weight and gain strength and muscle tone, for example.
How much do coaches make?
Coaches can make a competitive salary, though it can differ between your coaching focus, area, amount of expertise, or age and performance level of clients, like whether a high school or university level sports coach, for example. To get more insight into the various earning potential of a coach, consider looking at these salaries:
- Baseball coach: $14,500 per year
- Hockey coach: $27,837 per year
- Coach: $29,406 per year
- Softball coach: $31,270 per year
- Life coach: $32,888 per year
- Gymnastics coach: $33,480 per year
- Sports coach: $34,710 per year
- Personal trainer coach: $35,604 per year
- Health and wellness coach: $36,993 per year
- Assistant coach: $37,910 per year
- Career coach: $38,352 per year
- Football coach: $41,382 per year
- Academic coach: $41,107 per year
- Volleyball coach: $41,447 per year
- Head coach: $41,865 per year
- Basketball coach: $41,995 per year
- Acting coach: $42,545 per year
- Soccer coach: $48,198 per year
- Business coach: $54,325 per year
- Executive coach: $88,806 per year
Here are some other coaching focuses without salaries listed on Indeed:
- Performance coach
- Skills coach
- Succession coach
- Voice coach
Coaching salaries often vary depending on your education, background, training, experience, industry, employer and clientele. For example, you might earn more in a major metropolitan area as a career coach than in more rural locations. You can also expect various job hours, including nights, weekends and holidays depending on your focus as a coach. Sports coaches, like a football coach for example, work whenever games take place, plus hold practices, review playbooks, train with players and study footage of opposing teams. Travel is also likely, since you frequently go where your team or client trains, interviews or plays.
Related: 15 Highest-Paying Jobs in Sports
Where do coaches work?
Coaches can be self-employed, own their own business or work for a variety of coaching agencies or companies, and in the coaching industry, it's possible to do all three. For example, a career or financial coach might start their career working with individuals independently as a self-employed coach, then work for a career consulting firm before opening their own coaching business. Or a gymnastics coach might work for a local gym, training young children, before moving on to collegiate-level students through self-employment or opening their own training facility.
Common places for coaching employment might include:
- Universities and colleges
- Career and financial firms
- Sporting teams and facilities
- Recreational establishments
- Theaters, performance and production groups
- Social and civic organizations
How do you increase your salary as a coach?
Here are eight steps to consider following to increase your salary as a coach:
1. Develop a passion
You might have a passion for coaching through personal experience, like being a football player in high school or college, for example. Discovering your passion for coaching can allow you to focus on educational opportunities, like earning a teaching or coaching degree. Consider exploring what coaching atmosphere interests you the most, like whether you enjoy team settings or working one-on-one with individuals, and what industry or field interests you, like sports and entertainment or executive and career coaching.
2. Develop your skill set
Coaching skills are important when working with teams and individuals, and a strong skill set can help you potentially increase your salary as a coach. By honing or developing your skills, you can drive more results with positive outcomes from your clients, often helping attract new clients and more opportunities. Here are four skills to consider growing throughout your coaching career:
Leadership: As a coach, you lead team meetings, organize game plays, plans and performances, recruit players and other coaches and oversee groups of people. Having effective leadership and management skills can help you excel in coaching.
Persuasion: Coaches often bring out the best performances from their clients through guidance and persuasion. Your ability to build rapport, trust and confidence between yourself and your client or within a team can help everyone reach success.
Interpersonal and communication: You work with a variety of people as a coach, including the players, clients, musicians, plus their teammates, families, agents or managers. Your interpersonal and communication skills can help ensure all parties work well together and collaborate for the greater good of the team or individual you coach.
Industry knowledge: Whether you work in sports, entertainment or business, having a deep understanding of your field can help you gain respect as a coach and potentially command a higher salary throughout your career. Consider becoming an expert in your field, like knowing game rules for a sport and how they vary at different competition levels, for example.
Problem-solving: As a coach, you might make decisions that affect your team, client or industry, like replacing a quarterback on the football team for an important game because the starting player has a potential injury. Your ability to resolve issues and concerns through effective problem-solving can help you grow your reputation and coaching skills, which might increase future salary earnings.
3. Gain experience
Experience as a coach often leads to a higher salary. Consider gaining experience throughout various opportunities, like coaching a children's community youth league, a high school or collegiate team or a minor league team. Experience with different ages, backgrounds, locations and coaching focuses can also help make you a well-rounded candidate for future job openings, so consider gaining experience in various areas. For example, a sports coach might train defensive teams, a vocal coach might work with different singing styles and a career coach might add public speaking to their typical offering of resume review and interview preparation, for example.
4. Grow your network
Consider joining professional organizations, associations and groups to grow your network and contacts, which can help you learn about new opportunities, gain mentors or meet new clients. Socialize at different industry events, share your business card with people you meet and stay in touch with professional contacts to maintain a positive working relationship. Joining professional organizations can also help you stay up to date on industry news and coaching trends and methods, which can grow your expertise to command higher earnings.
While many organizations are specific to your industry, like the American Baseball Coaches Association, here are some general organizations to consider:
- International Coaching Federation
- International Association of Coaching
- Association for Coaching
5. Explore other compensation elements
As a coach, there may be monetary value in other elements of your compensation package, aside from salary. Here are some benefits to review when offered a coaching job to see your total rewards and compensation value:
Health benefits: Many employers provide health and wellness benefits, like paid medical, dental, vision and mental health insurance or even gym membership reimbursement. Sometimes an employer pays this medical premium entirely and other times the employee contributes a smaller percentage of the costs.
Retirement contributions: When working for an employer, you can often take part in optional retirement savings programs, like a 401(k). Some companies match the amount you contribute, which adds more to your overall savings, though you typically need to stay employed for a certain length of time for the amount to become fully vested.
Paid time off: Paid time off (PTO) traditionally involves holidays, sick and personal time, vacation pay and bereavement days. The amount of PTO might vary depending on your employer or how long one works there.
Additional perks: Coaches may have perks like free tickets for sporting events or entertainment performances, given by your client, the organization or your employer. For example, you might have complimentary travel to a national championship game even if your team isn't competing, because it helps grow your coaching skills through observation and research.
As a coach, these compensation elements might come from the company, agency or firm you work with or sometimes through the client you coach. When self-employed, these compensation elements are rare, unless you enroll in programs separately.
Related: What Does Fully Vested Mean?
6. Attract higher-level clients
You can often earn higher salaries as a coach when working with high-level clients, whether singers, actors, athletes or corporate executives. For example, a career coach might live and work in a moderately large city, working with various business professionals before moving to a major metropolitan area, like New York City, to work with executives of Fortune 500 companies. Or a sports coach might start their career working with amateur athletes, then semi-professionals, before gaining a professional level or Olympic athlete clientele.
Your salary naturally tends to increase when you work with high-level groups and individuals. As a coach in U.S. sports, you likely earn more money when working in these five primary sports organizations:
- Major League Baseball (MLB)
- Major League Soccer (MLS)
- National Basketball Association (NBA)
- National Football League (NFL)
- National Hockey League (NHL)
7. Start your own business
You might increase your salary by opening your own business as a coach. For example, a gymnastics coach might open their own studio, a career coach might open their own business or a voice and vocal coach might choose self-employment. Starting your own business takes thoughtful consideration, planning and often a big financial investment, though it can be a lucrative and rewarding experience.
Read more: How To Start Your Own Business in 9 Steps
8. Continue learning
In nearly every industry, you can often grow your income by continuously learning. Consider attending industry events, seminars and programs, taking higher education classes, courses or earning an advanced degree or gaining additional certifications, for example. You might learn new coaching methods, technology and tools to use or make new connections through your educational pursuits.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.