In an era when salaries and endorsements for
professional athletes have skyrocketed, agents
are becoming essential players in a multibillion-dollar
Being a sports agent can mean working with
famous clients and getting front-row access
to some of the biggest sporting events.
But it isn’t all perks and glamour.
In this video we want to explore what sports
agents actually do, what skills and education
are needed for the job and what you can earn
in that career.
Sports agents are legal representatives for
professional athletes and coaches.
They handle the business deals for their clients,
negotiate contracts and help manage their
In some large sports agencies, such as IMG
or Octagon, agents deal with all aspects of
their clients’ finances, from investment to
In addition to finding income sources, agents
often also handle public relations matters.
For example responding to press inquiries
and arranging interviews and media appearances.
But the job goes beyond advising on legal
and financial questions.
Often agents organize the whole life of their
Whether finding a rare pair of sneakers or
booking the next summer holidays, agents are
the first go-to person for their clients.
Football star Mario Balotelli once even called
his agent Mino Raiola to say his house was
Raiola advised him to try and call the fire
brigade instead (humorvoll).
Being a sports agent is essentially an on-call
job that requires you to sacrifice personal
time, travel extensively and fill whatever
role is missing from an athlete’s life.
But besides flexible working hours, what are
the skills you need to bring to the job?
If you want to work in sports, you need to
It’s not enough to read the sports section
in the newspaper.
A key part of the job is attending events
to find talent that you can work with, represent
and take to the next level.
Therefore, a connection to the sports world
is vital to becoming an agent.
Many agents were actually once professional
Their athletic background earns them credibility
and makes it is easy to bond with other athletes.
You have to make that connection and be able
to see the situation from the inside.
Otherwise, who is going to trust you to represent
But it is not a requirement to be a former
professional athlete to become an agent, as
long as you understand the sport you are working
More important are excellent networking and
relationship management skills.
In many cases, sports agents do a lot of traveling
to meet club managers, league representatives
and potential clients.
You may even want to link up with members
of the press who write for leading sports
A broad network is vital to provide the best
services to an athlete and can be a real competitive
Having a great network with strong relationships
also sets the stage for successful negotiations.
Salaries kept growing in recent years.
But earnings still vary a lot between athletes.
That’s why being a skilled negotiator is a
crucial asset of professional agents.
The skillset of an agent relies a lot on experience,
but some of it can also be learned at school.
The profession has never had the best reputation.
In the eyes of club officials, some agents
are seen as a bothersome and costly add-on
they have to deal with whenever they want
to sign a player.
However, also the agents have evolved their
skills to bring added value to the table.
Besides the sports background, some legal
or financial expertise is needed to cut it
in this field.
The world of professional sports has become
The contracts are complex and the amount of
money you’re dealing with can be astronomical.
Since there’s such a need for legal and financial
experts, many of today’s agents are lawyers
who have a solid grounding in business and
A growing number of agents also have educational
backgrounds in general business or sports
In recent years many Universities launched
programs to prepare students for the sports
It is now possible to study sports marketing,
sports law, sports business and more.
While these offers provide a narrow specialization,
it is also possible to study law or business
and specify on sports after school.
A sports degree is definitely not required
to be successful in the industry.
What is required for some agent jobs is a
This varies from sport to sport.
But usually, the national association of the
respective sport is giving out permits to
be an official athlete representative.
But before getting a license, it is worth
knowing what you can earn as an agent.
Sports agents usually are paid on commission.
So it’s in their interest to get their clients
the most money they can.
They generally receive between 4 and 10% of
the athlete’s playing contract, and 10 to
20% of the athlete’s endorsement contract.
Although these figures vary.
NFL agents, for instance, are not permitted
to receive more than 3% of their clients’
Earnings range widely, depending on how many
clients an agent has and how much those clients
On average, a sports agent usually makes $40,000
to $100,000 a year.
But extremely successful agents can actually
The highest-paid sports agent of 2019 was
Having negotiated more than one billion dollars
in active contracts and transfer fees, his
maximum possible commissions exceeded 128
The career of an athlete, and therefore also
the earnings, can be a rollercoaster ride.
Unknown one day and on top of the world the
But a professional agent can be a factor of
stability and the key driver for a successful
Many of the world’s most famous athletes probably
wouldn’t be where they are today without the
guidance of their agents.