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While many students earn their MBA to dive into the field of accounting or finance, others take a less traditional path, and specialize in areas such as sports management, environmental management, and hospitality management. These concentrations allow graduates to explore employment in unique fields, and take on challenges that few other business graduates would choose to pursue.

Batter Up

Sports management programs instruct students on how to manage and coach sports in schools and universities, as well as in recreational centers. The courses in this program introduce students to legal concepts in sports, the role sports play in contemporary society, and ways in which sports are able to raise money and turn a profit to keep a league or team running efficiently. Students combine business training with management techniques to develop a skill set that will prepare them to pursue careers, including that of an athletic director, sports agent, or coach.

An athletic director is an administrator for higher learning institutions and oversees coaches while putting together budgets for each sport. Depending upon your level of experience, job duties, and where your schools ranks in the country among athletics, your salary could range between $36,258 and $110,509, according to PayScale.

A sports agent represents and promotes athletes. They strive to negotiate the best possible contracts for their clients while searching for additional revenue streams, like endorsements and other ways that could bring both parties further income. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, sports agents earned an average annual salary of $66,290 in 2010.

Coaches instruct athletes on the fundamental skills of individual and team sports. In 2008, coaches held 225,700 jobs. Employment of coaches is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2018. In May 2008, the average annual wages of coaches were $28,340. Heavy competition is projected for positions at the highest levels of sports. However, lower tier positions should be more attainable.

Go Green

Earning an MBA in environmental management will allow you to examine the relations between businesses and the environment through the study of ecology and corporate operations. Graduates explore issues such as water quality and waste removal systems, as well as human and environmental health concerns. An environmental management program readies you to serve as an environmental specialist, allowing you to evaluate a business’s impact on the surrounding ecosystem. From there, you will be able to help increase the company’s sustainability while decreasing environmental damage. Popular professions for environmental management graduates include natural science managers, environmental scientists, and conservation scientists.

Natural science managers direct research and construct projects while organizing testing energy management systems. They run quality control and production activities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of natural sciences managers is projected to grow as fast as the average for all occupations – 8% over the 2008-18 decade. While the income for this career is heavily dependent upon your specialty and level of responsibility, in 2008, the average annual salary for these managers was $115,270.

Environmental scientists come up with ways to minimize adverse impacts on the environment and remedy any environmental problems a company might unintentionally be causing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, environmental scientists held about 85,900 jobs in 2008. Employment of environmental scientists is expected to increase by 28% between 2008 and 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Conversation scientists strive to preserve land quality and to protect the natural environment. They team up with landowners and apply safeguards the environment. This career takes graduates out of the office and puts them outdoors, requiring a large amount of walking and other physical activities. In 2008, the average annual salary for conservation scientists was $58,720.

Checking In

The hospitality industry is unique in the business world. The skill set required for those in this field reflects the variety of careers and duties facing those in the industry. From managing money to hiring staff, hospitality management graduates are expected to be comfortable with versatility. To address the problems and issues they will face in this field, students are educated on business communication, food and beverage cost control, and safety and sanitation among other subjects. With these tools, graduates position themselves to enter an industry that will allow them to interact with people from all over the world. Major positions graduates take on include lodging manager, food service manager, and gaming manager.

Lodging managers ensure that establishments are run efficiently and cost-effectively, with the specific number of duties dependent upon the size of the establishment. From hotels to camp sites, these managers may either perform or direct sales, manage security, and oversee all recreational facilities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for lodging managers was $45,800 in 2008.

Food service managers are responsible for the daily operations of an establishment’s locations where food and drinks are prepared and served to guests. The primary duty is to make sure that every customer has a high-quality dining experience. In 2008, food service managers held about 338,700 jobs. A large portion of these managers are salaried, but 42% are self-employed as owners of their own restaurants or smaller food service establishments.

Gaming managers have a very direct job description – to oversee all gaming operations. They make certain that there are enough staff members at every station offering guests entertainment. This can range from athletic events to themed parties such as a casino night. In 2010, gaming managers earned an average annual salary of $73,940. This specialized career requires communication skills and the ability to work well with a variety of guests as you strive to give them the most enjoyable experience possible.