Navigating Different Careers in Soccer: A Comprehensive Guide (2024)

The world of soccer extends far beyond the 90-minute matches that fans across the globe passionately follow. Many are drawn to the glamour and spotlight of being a professional player, yet the industry offers an extensive array of careers that contribute significantly to the beautiful game. Careers such as coaching, refereeing, team operations, scouting, and sports medicine provide numerous paths to immerse yourself in the sport you love. Our journey in this discourse will shed light on the intricacies of these roles, requisite education, skills, and typical job responsibilities. Furthermore, we will explore the pathways for career development and progression, along with an analysis of market trends and opportunities shaping the soccer industry.

Understanding the Various Soccer Career Paths

Professional Soccer Player Career Path

A professional soccer player’s career could span over 15 years if they are lucky, starting from their youth when their talent is recognized and nurtured. The journey typically begins in the youth system, where players aged 8 to 18 are developed. Following this, players may enter the professional leagues and, if they stand out, they could get a chance in the major leagues, either domestically or internationally. Physical fitness, technical skill, and mental toughness are crucial attributes of a successful professional soccer player.

Typical duties of this position involve rigorous daily training to maintain peak physical condition, strategy sessions, and regular competitive matches.

Coaching as a Soccer Career

A natural transition for many professional soccer players at the end of their playing career is to move into coaching. However, one does not necessarily have to have been a player to become a successful soccer coach. Coaches are responsible for training the team, developing strategies, and making critical decisions during games.

Coaching requirements often include certification from a recognized soccer organization, such as the U.S. Soccer Federation, which offers coaching licensing courses. Coaches should possess excellent communication skills, leadership ability, a deep understanding of the game’s tactics, and the ability to motivate and drive their team to success.

Soccer Refereeing Career

Referees are a critical part of any soccer match, maintaining the integrity of the game by enforcing the laws and ensuring fair play. A referee’s job duties include understanding and enforcing the rules of soccer, making split-second decisions, and managing player behavior on the field.

Referee certification levels start at the grassroots level and move up to professional level, with each level composed of a course of study and an examination. A referee requires strong decision-making skills, fitness, agility, and excellent understanding of the rules of soccer.

Soccer Scout

Soccer scouting involves identifying talented players and evaluating their potential. Scouts often travel extensively to watch prospects play in games and assess their skills, game intelligence, and potential. This role requires a keen eye for talent, understanding team requirements, and predicting player potential.

Soccer scouts often have previous experience playing or coaching soccer. Communication and people skills are vital for building relationships with prospects and their families.

Sports Medicine in Soccer

Sports medicine professionals play an essential part in a soccer player’s career, taking care of their physical health and helping them recover from injuries. This line of work in soccer includes physical therapists, sports psychologists, and orthopedic surgeons.

Qualifications in sports medicine vary greatly depending on the specific role, but they all require formal education in the medical field. Comprehension of the physical demands of soccer is crucial, coupled with a deep understanding of injury diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

Team Operations: Behind The Scenes Soccer Careers

Soccer team operations include various positions such as general managers, operations managers, and marketing directors. These positions handle the business side of a soccer team, from negotiating contracts, managing budgets, overseeing logistics, and promoting the team and players.

A bachelor’s degree is generally required for such positions, often in business, sports management or a related field. Strong strategic planning, financial management, and communication skills are among the required skills for these roles.

In conclusion, the realm of soccer provides a multitude of career options for those who are passionate about the sport. Each role necessitates a specific set of skills and qualifications, thus creating an array of opportunities for individuals to bring their unique contributions to this dynamic field.

Career Development and Progression in Soccer

Exploring Soccer Career Options

The soccer industry offers a variety of potential career paths. These include professional playing, coaching, refereeing, specializing in sports science, soccer journalism, as well as soccer management. While each of these careers follows its own unique developmental trajectory and progression route, universal prerequisites include a deep love for the sport, unwavering dedication, effective networking, skill development, and the acquisition of all necessary certifications.

Networking in the Soccer Industry

Networking is a crucial strategy for career development in soccer. The soccer industry, just like any other sports sector, thrives on relationships and connections. Getting to know people in the industry, be it through online platforms, attending soccer industry events, or internships, plays a significant role in career advancement. Networking provides opportunities for mentorship, professional training, and job opportunities.

Gaining Relevant Experience

In the soccer industry, hands-on experience is invaluable. Whether you aspire to be a soccer player, coach, or manager, the more you engage in the practical aspect of the sport, the better you become. For players, this might mean consistently participating in practices, league games, and tournaments. For aspiring coaches or managers, this could involve volunteer work, internships or starting at the grassroots level with local soccer clubs or school teams.

Obtaining Necessary Certifications

Various soccer careers require specific certifications. For instance, those interested in coaching need to acquire coaching licenses that vary from entry-level to high-performance ones, depending on the level of coaching one intends to pursue. Aspiring soccer managers might need degrees in sports management or related fields. Referees also need to undergo necessary training and pass the required certification exams set by soccer governing bodies like U.S. Soccer Federation.

Continual Learning and Development

The soccer industry is constantly evolving, and those committed to their soccer careers must commit to continuous learning. This could be staying updated with the changes in soccer rules, mastering new training techniques, or learning new management strategies. There are plenty of development programs, courses, webinars, and workshops offered by different soccer organizations that professionals can take advantage of to enhance their knowledge and skills.

Progression Paths in Soccer Careers

Career progression in the soccer industry usually follows specific paths. Soccer players often start their journey at grassroots level, progress to academy or collegiate soccer, then to semi-professional, and if successful, to professional soccer. Some players transition into coaching or managing after their playing careers. Aspiring coaches often start with coaching youth teams, progress to collegiate level, and finally into professional coaching. On the other hand, management professionals in soccer typically start with entry-level positions in sports organizations and climb the ladder to executive roles.

In the dynamic soccer industry, the keys to career progression and success hinge largely on flexibility, persistence, and adaptability. These core qualities, in combination with networking, relevant experience, appropriate certification, and a focus on lifelong learning, can power your advancement in this field.

Market Trends and Opportunities in Soccer Industry

An Overview of the Soccer Industry Today

The soccer industry, referred to as football in many parts of the globe, accounts for billions of dollars in annual revenues. Jobs in this vibrant field span far beyond professional players, incorporating coaching roles, refereeing, league management, sports medicine, soccer-focused journalism, and retail products tied to the sport.

Major leagues represent a considerable chunk of the industry’s income, with the English Premier League (EPL) leading the pack. In the 2018/19 season alone, the EPL generated an incredible 5.3 billion pounds, as per statistics from Statista. Other leagues showing significant economic strength include Spain’s La Liga, Germany’s Bundesliga, and Major League Soccer (MLS) in the United States.

Emerging Soccer Markets

New markets are emerging in the soccer industry. China, India, and the United States are rapidly growing their soccer industries and fan bases. Their potential revolves around their vast populations and economic strength. The investments primarily focus on youth development and league structure improvements to upscale the quality of soccer.

Impact of Technology on Soccer

Technology is significantly influencing soccer, from on-field technology improvements like the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) to off-field advancements like sports analysis and digital marketing. Technology is enhancing the game’s accuracy, promoting fan engagement, and opening up new career paths in areas like data analysis and digital content creation.

Increasing Opportunities for Women in Soccer

Ensuing gender equality, the opportunities for women in the soccer industry are increasing over time. Numerous professional women’s leagues are gaining recognition globally, offering more playing opportunities. Simultaneously, there’s been an increase in women taking up roles in coaching, refereeing, sports journalism, and other administrative positions.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 in France was a watershed moment for women’s soccer. It garnered global viewership and spurred discussions about elevating the women’s game, thereby creating a substantial number of potential opportunities.

The Impact of Major Events Such as the World Cup

The FIFA World Cup is one of the largest and most anticipated sporting events globally. The event’s massive scale impacts not only players but also broadcasters, journalists, hotel industry, transportation, and tourism, contributing to substantial economic growth.

The 2026 FIFA World Cup in the United States, Canada, and Mexico is anticipated to provide a significant boost to the North American soccer industry. These developments sway a surge in jobs and career opportunities in the region.


The soccer industry’s trends and opportunities are far-reaching and diverse. From emerging markets in countries like the United States and China to the increasing prevalence of women in the sport, there are many areas in which someone interested in a career in soccer might find exciting and lucrative opportunities. The influence of major events such as the World Cup can also shape the industry significantly, shaping numerous forms of direct and indirect employment and career enhancement opportunities worldwide.

Armed with knowledge about the multiple career paths in soccer, the process of career development and progression, and the ongoing trends and opportunities in the industry, making an informed career decision becomes a more attainable task. The soccer landscape is continuously evolving and growing; technology innovations, global events, and increasing career opportunities for women are expanding the industry’s horizons. Engaging in continuous learning and forming strategic networks will aid in navigating this dynamic landscape professionally. Ultimately, your passion for the game combined with the understanding and application of these insights may very well place you on the path to a successful and fulfilling soccer career.

Navigating Different Careers in Soccer: A Comprehensive Guide (2024)


What does ODP mean in soccer? ›

ODP stands for Olympic Development Program. The ODP program was established in 1977 as a way to ensure the development of future U.S. national soccer teams and raise the level of competition nationwide.

What does CDM mean in soccer? ›

CDM Soccer meaning stands for Central Defensive Midfielder and the name itself is pretty much self-explanatory. This position is dedicated to the middle of the team. This player is between the midfielders and defenders and works as a part of both of them.

What is the average salary of a professional soccer player? ›


What is position 11 in soccer? ›

10 - Attacking Midfield. 11 - Left Wing/Forward.

Can Ecnl players play ODP? ›

Can a player that participates in the ECNL also participate in the USYS ODP program? Yes.

What does EDP soccer stand for? ›

We're delighted to share that Signing Day Sports is teaming up with Elite Development Program (EDP Soccer) to enhance your soccer journey and college recruitment experience.

What does RWB mean in soccer? ›

Soccer Position Abbreviations
AbbreviationFull Position Name
RWBRight Wing Back
LWBLeft Wing Back
DMDefensive Mdfielder
22 more rows
Jan 1, 2024

What is AMF in soccer? ›

An attacking midfielder is a midfield player who is positioned in an advanced midfield position, usually between central midfield and the team's forwards, and who has a primarily offensive role.

What is SB in soccer? ›

SB - Fullback/Sideback - LB and RB denotes left or right sided. DMF - Defensive Midfielder. CMF - Central Midfielder. WB - Wingback - A more attacking based SB. SMF - Side Midfielder, same with LMF and RMF.

How much is Ronaldo's salary? ›

According to Al-Jazeera, Cristiano Ronaldo's salary at Al-Nassr is worth around $220 million a year, singing until 2025 with the Saudi side. However this figure it's not just for playing football, as his contract includes image rights, and commercial deals that help to pay the Portuguese salary in Saudi Arabia.

How much does a soccer player get per hour? ›

A Professional Soccer Players in your area makes on average $18 per hour, or $0.53 (30.141%) more than the national average hourly salary of $17.66. ranks number 1 out of 50 states nationwide for Professional Soccer Players salaries.

How much does Mbappe make a year? ›

That translates to a gross salary of €72 million (over $78.5 million) a year.

What does CF mean in soccer? ›

Centre forward, an attacking position in Association football. Football club (Club de Fútbol) in Spain.

What does CB mean in soccer? ›

4/5 – Center Back (CB): Also known as the central defender, center fullback or stopper, this position plays in the middle of the rear defensive line. A 4–4–2 formation will have two center backs, which will hang back to protect the goal.

What does the ODP stand for? ›

The Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) within the Department of Human Services is responsible for the oversight of intellectual and developmental disability services in Pennsylvania. Local County MH/ID Programs' verify program eligibility for services through ODP. Program Eligibility.

What do you mean by ODP? ›

6.8 Ozone Depletion Potential. The ODP is a number which refers to the amount of stratospheric ozone depletion caused by a substance. In this regard, ODP was treated as the ratio of the impact on ozone of a chemical compared to the impact of a similar mass of R-11. Thus, the ODP of R-11 was defined to be 1.0.

Can MLS next players play in ODP? ›

Top players at each Club that are expected to be registered only with MLS NEXT and cannot play in any outside competition or league without prior approval by MLS NEXT.

What is ODP full for? ›

The ODP of a compound is defined as the ratio of the total amount of ozone destroyed by that compound to the amount of the ozone destroyed by the same mass of CFC-11.

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