How to Start a Career in Football

Whether you have been dreaming of a particular career since you were young, or you’re not sure which direction to go in yet, the career path you aim towards can often change or develop as you grow and discover where your talents lie. Getting a job you love is a central part of building the life you want, so if you’re passionate about football, there could be a career for you in the sport. 

If you have been practicing football since you were young and you’re now looking for the opportunity to transform this into a career, football offers a plethora of opportunities that you may want to consider pursuing. From being a professional player to coaching, management, nutrition and even communications, there are a wide range of jobs that you can choose from within this field. However, like many industries, football is highly competitive and getting your dream job in football requires dedication. If you’re looking to get into football but are not sure what skills, qualifications and experience you need, join us as we discuss the best ways that you can start a career in football. 

What skills do you need to become a footballer?

If you’re truly passionate about a career in football, it’s important to have a large amount of motivation, dedication and, crucially, determination. This is because the aim is to show coaches and talent-seekers that you won’t give up at the first inconvenience, such as if you notice other players being scouted before you, as well as enduring long and tiring training sessions. However, you can overcome these issues by not letting yourself get disheartened when others are chosen to go onto bigger things before you, and ensuring that you’re eating and sleeping well. As training sessions are unpaid, if you find you’re struggling financially, you could apply

for a part-time job if you’re not being paid whilst you’re building up your football experience.

While delving into savings for training classes or gear might seem like a big commitment financially, there may be other sacrifices that you should be prepared to make along the way, so you should view your training as a test to see how well you can face these. For example, making less plans with your friends to put in extra training hours might seem like a small thing at first. However, over time, this can become draining, so make sure you always have that goal in the back of your mind of where you want to be and how attainable that goal is for you. Feeling confident and fully committed to achieving your goals is a key factor in surviving all these challenges.

What qualifications do you need for a career in football?

No matter if you’re looking to be a professional football player, or your goals are more focussed on a related career such as coaching or sports journalism, there are a number of routes you can take to help you pursue your dream job in football. The route that you choose can depend 

on the requirements of the specific career path, as well as how you feel you would learn best. 

Sports or football degree

A degree is a popular route that many use to help them pursue a football career. Often, this is a good idea for those who have not yet decided on their specialism. To study a degree in this area, universities prefer if you have some sports-based A-levels or if you have studied a related BTEC qualification at college. 

When looking at the right degree for you, Sports Management, Football Business, Football Studies or Sports Journalism are popular among those taking this route. However, we recommend taking some time to research these options or discussing these with a teacher or careers advisor to help you decide on the best pathway. It is worth researching different career opportunities that these degrees present to make sure that you have the right skill set and ability to excel, make sure to look at job descriptions to get a better idea of what you may be required of you. However, keep in mind that degrees are heavily theory-based, so we would advise asking tutors about the potential work experience opportunities you can complete alongside your studies. You could also reach out to local clubs before or during your degree to help you build a strong portfolio of knowledge and experience.

Football apprenticeship 

If you decide that a degree is not for you, there are other qualifications you can take, such as the apprenticeship route. From college-level to degree options, you can pursue an apprenticeship at any level. This is a great option for those looking to get paid whilst pursuing something they love, and a fantastic way to get hands-on experience in the field. If you’re not sure where to start looking, take a look at the Sporting Excellence Programme, which was developed with the help of professional football clubs. 

Tips on how to start a career in football

While degrees and apprenticeships are both popular ways to get into football, there are a number of other points we recommend keeping in mind when looking at how to become a professional football player, or pursue a related career. Taking this advice into account will help you prove to scouts that you’re serious about pursuing this career, and are willing to embrace the lifestyle that comes with it.

Join your local football team

Though it might seem like an obvious starting point, joining a local team is an essential step in the journey to becoming a professional player. While playing with friends at the park on weekends or evenings might seem like you're building your skills, joining a team at your local football club gives you access to professional coaches that can help increase your chance of being scouted. It also allows you to practice regularly and gives you the opportunity to play alongside well-experienced players, ultimately helping you decide if this is the career for you.

Find a football coach

Leading on from the point above, though you can gain some useful tips from your friends and parents, football coaches often have years’ of experience under their belts and a strong understanding of the key skills required for this sport. Since it’s likely they have worked with many young talents over the years, they will know how best to guide beginners or intermediate players to more advanced levels. There to help you hone basic skills into strong traits valued by most football teams, coaches are based in schools, grassroots teams and football academies. 

Live a healthy lifestyle

In order to keep up with the physical demands of training sessions, it’s important to ensure you look after your mental and physical health to remain at peak performance. This involves ensuring you have a balanced diet, getting enough sleep (8-10 hours a night) as well as engaging in other exercise, such as running and weight training. As well as proving to scouts that you are serious about this lifestyle, this will also help to support your actual football performance.

Create a comprehensive portfolio

While performing well in matches can help increase your chances of becoming a professional footballer when talent scouts come to watch, there are other ways you can get noticed and we recommend that you actively seek out these opportunities to increase your chances of getting into the industry.. Once you’ve spent time working hard on improving your skills with your coach, it’s time to get your efforts noticed. Used by the majority of people, the internet and social media are a great way to build a platform that showcases your skills, and may also help others.

Heightening your chance of being scouted, it might be worth setting up an Instagram account, TikTok page or even a website. If you haven’t already, we also recommend updating your CV if you haven’t done this already, and creating a LinkedIn page. You could also ask your coach to write a personal recommendation that you could add to your profile.

What jobs are available in football?

It’s a common misconception that the only jobs available in football are those that are based around participating in the actual game. Besides being a professional player, or coach, though these are popular options, there are also roles covering many other areas. These include sports therapy, business related roles, media, marketing and much more. Even those who have dreams of becoming a player can often work their way in through working across other areas of the sport and building a valuable network of contacts. 

Below, we’ve listed a handful of these roles to help you consider the right option for you, but it’s also worth checking the website or social media of your local football clubs, or even reaching out to them to find out if there are currently any roles available, or the types of roles they hire for. 

  • Football coaching - Responsible for training and supporting players from the very start of their journey, this profession can prove to be a very rewarding career. If you’re interested in this, make sure you read our blog on how to become a football coach.
    • Sports therapist/physio - Sports therapists and physiotherapists ensure that players remain at peak physical health. From sports massages to muscle stretching techniques, these professions focus on rehabilitation after injuries, as well as ensuring that players’ remain at the right physical level required.
  • Sports nutritionist - If you’re interested in focussing more on the health aspect of the sport, rather than the physical performance or competing in the game, this role may be for you. In football, sports nutritionists help players develop certain strategies that will allow them to get the right amount of nutrition they need from food to perform their best.
  • Media and communications manager - A popular route into football is working in a media and communications or marketing role for a football club. This demanding but creative role involves writing blogs, press releases, updating the clubs’ social media and more.

Kick off your football career

Whether you have just come out of college and are keen to kick off your football career, or you’re looking for a career change and have been playing football as a hobby since you were younger, there are many ways you can start working towards your goals of becoming a professional player. However, no football career would be complete without some durable, performance enhancing gear. With a range of training wear, browse jerseys, shorts and more at Avec Sport.