How to Become an NFL Coach

By: HowStuffWorks.com Contributors  | 

Working as a coach in the National Football League (NFL) is a very demanding and stressful occupation. A coach is responsible for planning and organizing practices and guiding the team during the game. Coaches are responsible for directing and implementing all game-play strategies. The coach must motivate his team before and during the games, and must have the ability to make split second decisions on game-play throughout the game. Coaches must be able to cope with stress, especially on game day. Being a coach is a high profile job, as they're always shown on television during the game and are interviewed after the game. Coaches are very well compensated, as their salary can range anywhere from $1 million to $6 million per year [source: Kay Circle]. Here's how to become an NFL coach.

  • Be passionate To become a football coach, you must first and foremost love and live the game. You must know the game inside and out. As you will only learn to coach from exposure to the game, attend or watch as many games as possible. Record the games and watch the videos over and over, to understand the coaches' game strategies. If you become a coach, you will be spending much of your time thinking about play and strategy.
  • Go to college NFL coaches must have at least a bachelor's degree in physical education, sports medicine or physiology.
  • Join a teamYou will have to get as much experience playing the game as possible. The best way is to join your college football team. Most NFL coaches were once college football players.
  • Try coachingVolunteering your services as a coach to your local high school is a great way to gain experience. From there try getting a job as a high school coach and eventually as a college football coach.
  • Be patientBecoming an NFL coach is very difficult and takes a lot of patience. You may have to work at four or five colleges for about 10 years before you will even be considered for an NFL coaching job. With determination and perseverance you may land that very coveted job [sources: USA Football, Helium].

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Originally Published: Apr 26, 2011

NFL Coach FAQ

How do you become a coach in the NFL?
Becoming a coach in the NFL requires professional coaching experience either at the national, international or college level. The positions at NFL are pretty competitive, so those who demonstrate prior skills in transforming players into legends are given preference. Some NFL coaches were also renowned players in the past.
How much does an NFL coach make a year?
It varies, often depending on their team’s success. However, the average coach makes six million dollars a year. The top three NFL head coaches are Bill Belichick, who makes $12.5 million annually; Pete Carrol, who makes $11 million a year; and Jon Gruden, who makes $10 million per year.
What qualifications do you need to become an NFL coach?
A bachelor’s degree in sports sciences or football-related fields such as exercise and sports medicine, fitness and nutrition, kinesiology or physical education can be beneficial in becoming an NFL coach, but prior experience and success as a coach is almost always required.
Who is the youngest coach in the NFL?
As of 2021, Sean McVay, the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, holds the record of being the youngest coach in the NFL. The 35-year-old earns about two million dollars a year and was voted NFL Coach of the Year in 2017.
What skills do NFL football coaches need?
Top NFL coaches are recognized for their visionary thinking and leadership skills to transform ordinary players into stars. They also have a positive attitude, passion for sports and perseverance.

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