When I first started my journey in strength and conditioning my main objective was to break into the college sector and constantly climb the ladder. After several years however my outlook on this has completely changed. Personally now I want to remain at the High School level and will remain at my current district the entire time I am at the High School level. Strength and conditioing at the High School Level is extremely rewarding, no I may never get to wear a shirt that is three sizes too small on national television (NOT KNOCKING IT, I KNOW THESE GUYS AND GIRLS DO FAR MORE THAN THAT), but the rewards at the High School level are extremely motivating it is also nice being able to work with ALL sports instead of just one particular sport.
Three of the biggest benefits of strength and conditioning at the high school level are job security, time off and pay, yes pay. I know everyone likes to complain about what high school teachers make however if you a certified teacher and certified strength coach you can make quite a decent living. Will you ever make 250,000 dollars as a high school strength coach in terms of pay directly from your district? Absolutely NOT, but you will also never make less than 40 K which is quite common at the college level. At the high school level you can generally make on a broad spectrum 50-70K quite fast and maintain this for the majority of your career. The retirement available to public school teachers is also phenomenal. Upon retirement in Arkansas you essentially receive 70% of your 5 highest paid years, each year for the rest of your life. That means if you averaged $60,000 your five highest paid years (this is low most will be higher) then you would get $42,000 a year the rest of your life upon retirement. Dont simply look at the teacher salary schedule when trying to figure in pay for yourself at the high school level. There are all kinds of ways to increase your pay. Im fortunate enough to receive a decent strength and conditioing stipend, assistant sports coach stipends and several extra contract days per year which add a good amount to the teacher salary schedule. Once you have established yourself there is nothing wrong with seeking oppurtunities at other schools and using these to your advantage at your current district. Early in my time at my current district I was fortunate to be offered a job at the highest level of Arkansas High School sports, it was for a 7A school while I was at a 4A school. I took the pay that was promised at the larger school and met with my administration to see what they could do about getting close to the larger schools level of pay. They were not able to match the pay but they were able to get fairly close and this showed alot to me in terms of how I felt about being here not only because of increased pay to help provide for my family but also because of a willingness to work with me to keep me here, I honestly work for the best administration at the High School Level and I firmly believe that.
Time off is another huge benefit of working at the High School level. Think of various blue collar or private sector jobs and most start with 2-4 weeks paid time off MAXIMUM. At the High School level in Arkansas and most other states you are going to get at minimum six weeks off a year, this is not including vacation/sick days, or random holidays throughout the school calendar year. Over the course of a year I get off one week for thanksgiving break, two weeks for christmas break, one week for spring break and two weeks in summer during the dead period. This is six weeks off in addition to 12 sick days, random school days that are out and three personal days. Tell me many other jobs where you get that much time off, they arent very common. All the time off affords you oppurtunities to create additional streams of income rather it be through personal training, online remote training or a different business all together. This also provides you much more time to spend with your family and enjoying life or various hobbies that interest you which goes a long way in terms of not getting burned out or divorced. Dont get me wrong the all holy grind is great and when its time to work its time to work and be 100% focused but when its time to have down time and chill I go just as hard at that as I do when coaching.
Job security is also a huge benefit of working at the High School level. For the most part if you are brought in on a district wide perspective you are not going to be relived of your job duties because the head football or head basketball coach gets fired. You are essentially your own entity and as long as you provide value to the school district and they are in good standing financially your job will be safe for as long as you wish to work there. This is important from the aspect that you need to work with ALL teams. If you work with strictly the football program and the football team struggles simply due to a lack of talent then you may be judged on their lack of talent. However, if you work with all sports then you will be judged on the success of all sports as a whole. It is nice at the High School level to be able to buy a house and put equity into it rather than renting a house/apartment giving this money to someone else over and over while you have to move every 2-3 years.
This is not to say the High School level is perfect in every aspect, their are unique challenges and negative aspects to it as well, these will be highlighted in a later post.