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Can You Be A Coach Without A Degree

By David Krug 8 minute read

Coaches need a lot of enthusiasm to succeed in high school education. The challenge of putting together a squad and getting the best out of each player may be something you like, but you may not have the same enthusiasm for education.

In the case of high school coaches, there is no simple response because the standards vary from state to state and even from school to school, thus it is impossible to give a definitive answer.

In order to become a high school sports coach, prospective students should weigh the advantages and disadvantages of majoring in education over anything else.

Do You Need to Have Taught to Be a Coach?

Coaches at high schools do not have to be educators by profession. Not all high school coaching positions need teacher credentials, but many do.

A major in anything other than education does not necessarily rule out all coaching opportunities, but it does render you ineligible for the position at many schools.

Students who want to become high school coaches must carefully assess their personal and professional goals against the regulations of the states and districts where they intend to serve.

Why a Bachelor’s Degree in Education is Beneficial for High School Coaching

A degree in teaching is likely to be the best choice if you want to work as a high school sports coach after graduation.

Aspiring high school coaches may consider getting a degree in education because most districts prefer to hire from inside when filling coaching roles. 

However, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, most of these institutions are only ready to accept outside applicants if they can’t find a competent and engaged teacher or school administrator on their own (BLS).

A college degree in the subject of teaching, then, will vastly increase your work options. In order to become a high school teacher, you need to major in secondary education, which will lead to you becoming a coach.

Studying education can also help you develop talents outside of the classroom, such as on the track, court, or weight room.

Even though coaching is a sort of education, you’re preparing athletes to help them reach their full potential rather than instructing them on academic issues.

The skills and knowledge you gain while getting a degree in education may be applied in your coaching capacity as well. Understanding how teenagers learn and adapting your teaching style to suit is beneficial.

It’s also advantageous to have steady employment with flexible hours so that you may continue to coach high school sports.

For elementary and secondary school coaches, the median income in 2020 was just $36,330, according to the BLS, and that wage reduces to just $31,450. 

They pay less than you’d expect for a profession that frequently necessitates a bachelor’s degree because they are part-time employees.

If you work full-time as a high school teacher, you can expect an annual pay of $62,870 according to the BLS in 2020.

Make sure that if you’re not a teacher, you’ve got another full-time paid position or a second part-time work that can assist you to generate more money.

Why an education degree may not be required to become a coach

A degree in education can help you achieve your objective of coaching high school sports, but it is not essential in the same way that, for example, a nursing degree is needed to become a registered nurse or a Juris Doctor degree is needed to become an attorney.

Many school districts and states require high school sports teachers to be full-time district teachers or have a current teaching credential.

However, this is not always the case. Some states and school districts do not have this requirement, whilst others have considerably more lax regulations.

In certain school systems, a substitute teaching certificate may suffice in lieu of a full teaching license and full-time work. Usually, a bachelor’s degree is not required for substitute teaching qualifications.

According to the National Education Association, certain states may accept an associate’s degree or 60 college credits in lieu of a degree, while others would only accept a high school diploma.

The BLS predicts that the number of positions for coaches will increase by 26 percent, or 63,900 jobs, between 2020 and 2030.

Approximately 20% of all coaches are now employed by elementary and secondary schools, and the BLS anticipates that opportunities at the high school level will expand in tandem with predicted enrollment growth. 

As the need for high school sports coaches rises, schools may become more open to individuals with non-traditional academic and professional credentials.

Even in school districts where hiring from within the school is the norm, this may change if the demand for high school coaches exceeds the availability of willing instructors.

If you are not interested in being the head coach of a high school sports team, the standards for assistant coach roles may be less stringent.

Other than a bachelor’s degree program in education, an aspiring high school sports coach can acquire the necessary coaching skills through participation in community sports teams, mentorship opportunities, leadership experience in other professional or personal capacities, and their own experiences with coaches when they played sports.

Standards for High School Coaches

What are some of the prerequisites for high school coaching positions?

  • Again, many high school coaching positions need a teaching or substitute-teaching certificate. Whether you need a complete teaching certification or only a replacement teaching certification will influence what this procedure includes. A bachelor’s degree in education, culminating in a semester of student teaching, and passing certification examinations are frequently required steps before earning a full teaching license. However, some states need merely a high school diploma for substitute instructors, while others demand a bachelor’s or an associate’s degree.
  • A college background is essential for many high school coaching positions if only to meet the standards for obtaining teaching certifications. Some states and school districts need a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), or Associate of Arts (AA or AS) degree, as well as college credits equivalent to a bachelor’s (120) or associate’s degree (60).
  • Because of the possibility of injuries and accidents on the field, high school sports coaches are frequently required to acquire first aid and CPR training. In spite of the fact that first aid and CPR may be skills you dread using, they are often straightforward to learn. It just takes a few hours of training to earn two years of certification in first aid and CPR from organizations like the American Red Cross, the National Safety Council, the American Heart Association, and other local healthcare facilities.
  • Criminal background check. Because of the nature of your position as a high school sports coach, you should anticipate being subject to a criminal background investigation, regardless of whether or not you studied education in college. Whatever your academic degree, you may have difficulty getting a coaching job at a high school if your criminal record contains even one significant felony or even a string of lesser ones.
  • A TB test and vaccinations may be required by your state or school district, depending on the laws and regulations of your state and the school district in which you are applying for admissions.

Coaches at the high school level, however, must also be prepared to work late into the night, on the weekends, and even on holidays to ensure that their students have the best possible opportunity to learn.

Some high school sports coaches are expected to take student-athletes to games in vans and buses, while others just supervise the behavior of students during their journeys. People who wish to spend their free time doing other things are not suited for coaching high school sports.

Coaches that are good leaders and smart decision-makers who build strong connections with their student-athletes, communicate well, and are resourceful and committed to their sports team’s development are ideal, according to the BLS.

Degree programs in the field of coaching

There are various programs of study connected to coaching that may interest you, despite the risk of not majoring in education if you plan to coach high school sports.

It is possible to pursue certain programs as part of a bachelor’s degree in education, while others can be pursued as a master’s or a graduate certificate.

It doesn’t matter what your academic focus is; the collegiate athletics experience is a significant asset for any prospective coach.

Courses like Principles and Problems of Coaching, Sport Specific Strength and Conditioning, Coaching Training Theories, and Coaching Education Administration could be included in a Bachelor of Science in Coaching and Performance Sciences.

Only a few courses, such as Coaching and Officiating Theory, Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries, and First Aid and CPR, may be required to get an Athletic Coaching Certificate from a community college. 

In order to satisfy the needs of aspiring high school coaches without a degree in education, certain programs have been designed expressly for them.

A health and physical education department’s specialization program may make majoring in teaching more interesting to you than you had previously believed.

It is possible to land collegiate coaching employment with a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science, physical education, physiology, sports medicine/nutrition, and fitness and nutrition, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

How to Become a High School Trainer

Coach training begins before you’ve even graduated from college. If you want to become a coach, you need to have a lot of experience as a player first. Participating in sports as a high school or college student, if not earlier, is essential. 

Learning the rules and physical skills of a sport can only be learned through practice. As a former player, you have a unique perspective on the kind of people you’ll be working with as a coach. As a coach, you might draw inspiration from the mentors you had as a player. 

Coaches who aren’t as effective might teach you vital lessons on how not to run a high school sports program. It’s important for high school athletes to remember that their primary goal is still to earn an education.

If you’re serious about working in sports coaching, even if you don’t have a four-year degree, you should make sure you’re prepared to go back to school. 

This entails maintaining a good GPA throughout high school, completing classes that prepare you for college, and taking standardized tests like the SAT or ACT.

The sooner you start thinking about college, the more time you have to investigate colleges and programs that interest you, visit campuses, and put together your application.

It doesn’t matter if you want to go into education or coaching or kinesiology or exercise science as a major, following these procedures will help you get into school.

Consider the state and school district regulations before deciding on a major in order to ensure that you will be eligible to coach.

As a high school coach, you don’t want to waste your time and money on a college degree just to discover that you aren’t qualified for the position after you graduate.

Take advantage of opportunities to improve your coaching abilities while you are in college. The more coaching experience you have, the more likely you are to get employed as a high school sports coach.

Be sure to ask past coaches for advice and guidance on your own route to becoming a successful coach.

David Krug