Being an accountant for a major sports team, or for individual athletes, can be a wild and wooly ride, if only because you may one day have to explain to the IRS why a Rolls trimmed in leopard skin is a business expense. It's also one of the top-paying accounting jobs out there, simply because there is so much money in athletics. It's not easy to break in, but if you can, you can be set for life.
What Does a Sports Accountant Do?
Sports accountants are tasked with the responsibility of doing basic accounting tasks within the organizations they are employed in. The sports industry involves many people, including the actual players, coaches, trainers, and other staff members. Unlike regular accountants, the sports accountant jobs are usually seasonal based on the seasonal schedules of whatever teams they work for.
They may have to be a lot faster and more responsive than the average accountant, and that's not a joke – they're not competing against the athletes they represent. It's because of the seasonal nature of the profession: the job requires flexibility as you may need to relocate many times in the cause of your job. But, if you have the passion to work for your favorite team or your individual clients, regardless of the many unusual demands that might be made of you, then the job may be for you.
How To Become A Sports Accountant
Getting a job as a sports accountant is not difficult if you have the right accounting credentials. There are plenty of sports teams and they all need accountants. To get an entry level job in a firm that works in sports accounting, or for the team, a bachelor's degree in accounting is the baseline. Having an MBA in Sports Management or a Master's in Accounting gives you added advantage. For those who want to work in other, more specialized positions, such as an auditor, a master's in forensic accounting is the way to go, while a master's in taxation can give you the credentials you need to keep the IRS off the team's backs. Some specializations may only require a graduate certificate in accounting.
Different Sports Accounting Positions
If you are qualified to be a sports accountant, there are plenty of positions you can apply for. They include the following;
Payroll Accountant, Tax Accountant, or Auditor
If you choose to work as a payroll accountant for a sports team, your job will to manage the compensation process for players, coaches, and other members of staff. You will analyze the contracts for salaries of different players and employees to compensate them. You will comply with tax regulations and award bonuses to players and players who earn them.
Tax accountants for the team or individual will be responsible for making sure all taxes are filed in an orderly fashion that won't get their clients fined or jailed – and it's happened before. An internal auditor, on the other hand, makes sure everyone else is doing their jobs correctly, hunting down any errors or wrongdoing and nipping it in the bud before regulators do their thing.
Financial Controller or Comptroller
The job of a financial controller or comptroller is to oversee the accounting department of the team they are working for. They are in charge of all the sports team's accounting operations and sports finance. They have more job responsibilities than other accountants, so their salaries are higher.
Merchandise Accountant or Cost Accountant
Sports accountants can be in charge of the revenue earned from merchandise. Most sports teams sell a lot of merchandise online or in stadiums. A merchandise accountant of sports teams' revenue may be involved in the pricing of the merchandise and managing the stock. Meanwhile, the job of a cost accountant is keeping costs down, maximizing profits, and minimizing waste.
The average salary for a sports accountant is $74,250 annually, but salaries can vary wildly based on physical location, the sports team or organization you work for, or your title and level of experience. Accountants who work privately for individual athletes, coaches, and owners, can make as much as they want to charge – and when your client has tax bills in the millions, that can be quite a lot.