Starting A New Career After Sports

As a result of the COVID pandemic, there has been a rise in the number of candidates seeking to completely change industries in order to find employment. However, the prospect of switching industries or career fields can be scary. You may be thinking:

“What skills do I have?”

“Am I even qualified?”

However, If you’re someone who has had non-traditional/non “9-5” careers, i.e. professional athletics, the idea of now securing a corporate career can be even more daunting. You may be concerned about how to get started in this process and whether or not you even have a shot to secure a position.

But before you get overwhelmed or count yourself out, here are a few steps you can take towards making your big career change:

  1. Give yourself a mindset shift. Remember that this change is not starting over, it’s starting fresh. After being in a highly competitive space like professional sports, you may be frustrated about going back to what may seem like ground zero. However, think about it as an opportunity for you to try something new. You’ve completed one career, and now you have the chance to have a completely different one!
  2. Take some time to think about what work you’re actually interested in, and tie that to actual occupations/positions. Do you want to stay in sports, but just in a different role? Do you have any passions outside of sports? If you find yourself truly stuck regarding your interests, think about what activities you’ve enjoyed in your downtime. You can also use online career tests and personality assessments to give you a jump start.
  3. Research the positions you want and study the careers of those who have those positions. Dig deeper into job descriptions to understand the requirements and qualifications companies are looking for. Take it a step further to identify people with the roles you want (some of them may be friends or connections) to learn how they’ve been successful in that career and what skills they find to be the most valuable to their career progression.
  4. Reflect on the skills you have that can be transferable to other careers. Trust me, you have more than you think. Strong work ethic, effective communication, prioritization and organization, and leadership are all valuable skills that can position you well for your next career. In addition, reflect on any work that you may have done in the off-seasons, i.e. volunteer work in the community, pitching in with the front office, helping friends for family members with their ventures, etc.
  5. Use your network. If you’ve been in professional sports, it’s likely that you’ve built up a network with other athletes, coaches, agents, attorneys, doctors, etc. You have a rich pool of people that you can talk to about your desired career interests and the transition you would like to make. This is not the time to be bashful and prideful. In the base case, networking provides the best opportunity for securing job opportunities. When it comes to completely changing careers, your network can prove critical for vouching for your skill set and work ethic, and can help you overcome potential hurdles around formal job experience. You’ve heard it before: It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know!


You CAN successfully transition to a career outside of sports. Keep that your unique background places you in a position of strength because in addition to the valuable skills you’ve developed, it allows you to bring a fresh perspective with new ideas to your work environment. So stop doubting yourself and go for it!