How to Become a
Cheer Coach

Young female cheerleaders in uniform with pom poms

If you’re considering a career as a Cheer Coach, then you’ve come to the right place. This article contains educational and training requirements, the average median Cheer Coach salary, helpful resources and more.

What Does a Cheer Coach Do?

Cheer Coaches are primarily responsible for the instruction and guidance of a squad of cheerleaders, whether those cheerleaders are in college, high school, middle school, elementary school, a non-profit cheer organization or a competitive squad. Cheer Coaches work in whatever setting their squad is rehearsing and cheering in, from football fields to sports arenas.

Along with teaching the fundamentals of cheerleading, Cheer Coaches must also be able to provide their squad with moral support and motivation. Just like any other sport, cheerleading is both physically strenuous and mentally demanding, and thus Cheer Coaches need to be able to be there for their students as a role model as well as a source of encouragement. Common Cheer Coach duties and responsibilities include:

  • Working with both beginning and experienced cheerleaders on proper technique

  • Arranging and organizing practices, games and competitions

  • Ensuring the safety of each athlete

Cheer Coach Skills

Along with a strong knowledge of the technical aspects of cheerleading, Cheer Coaches also need to have a grasp of kinesiology as well as basic human anatomy in order to properly understand what factors can affect each cheerleader’s success, safety and proper technique. And, since coaching a cheer squad requires a large amount of planning, organization and coordination, Cheer Coaches must also have great communication skills.

Other key Cheer Coach skills include:

  • Ability to instruct a squad while still remaining friendly and approachable

  • Analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each individual athlete and training them accordingly

  • Maintenance of a high energy level and positive outlook for both themselves and the squad

  • Attention to detail in regards to technique and safety as well as logistical information

How Do You Become a Cheer Coach?

Education and Training

According to our analysis of online job listings, employers are usually looking for Cheer Coaches who have an educational background which matches the educational level of the squad they’ll be coaching. For instance, Cheer Coaches for high school students and younger are generally required to have a high school diploma, GED or equivalent, while Cheer Coaches for college students are generally required to have a bachelor’s degree in physical education, sports and fitness administration or a related field.

However, it seems employers are more concerned with a Cheer Coach’s experience than they are with their education. Desired experience includes any personal background in cheer, dance, gymnastics or acrobatics. Additionally, almost every listing we looked at required potential Cheer Coaches to have basic safety certification, specifically CPR and First Aid certifications. To find out how to receive CPR and First Aid classes and certifications from the American Red Cross, click here.

Some listings also require Spirit Safety certification from the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators, available here, Concussion Certification from the National Federation of State High School Associations, available here, and/or Cheer Coach Credentialing from the U.S. All Star Federation, available here.

Finding a Job

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for Coaches and Scouts, which includes Cheer Coaches, is increasing by 6 percent. This demand is expected to result in the opening of 14,800 new positions between 2014 and 2024.

Before you start your job search, you’ll want to have a professional and organized resume to submit to prospective employers. Take a look at JobHero’s library of Cheer Coach sample resumes for guidance and fresh ideas.

Once your resume is completed and polished to your liking, conduct an online job search to get a feel for the positions that are available. However, make sure to have a great cover letter on hand before applying to any of the positions you find. A cover letter will help convey your personality, reasons for applying and special areas of expertise. Check out our collection of cover letter samples for inspiration.

Insights from a Cheer Coach

To get an insider’s view of how to become a Cheer Coach, we spoke with Amanda Shepherd, who has been a high school Cheer Coach for the past three years. She is also a social media manager for Ellipses.

What is the common career path for a Cheer Coach?

Generally, you start as an assistant coach to a younger squad level, whether it be an all-star squad of elementary aged students, an assistant middle school coach or a freshman high school coach/assistant coach. Then you can work your way up to head coach through a variety of different teams until you find where you fit.

What should someone consider before becoming a Cheer Coach?

You certainly need to consider the amount of time it takes to be a cheer coach of a successful team. Practices should be anywhere from 5-10 hours per week, plus game days, plus community service outreach, plus summer camps, etc. It is generally a job with little pay but high reward. If cheer is something you love to do, there's no better feeling than giving that love to a younger generation.

What type of person excels in this job?

Someone who is insanely patient, always willing to have a smile on their face and bring their team up when they need to be brought up. Someone with a drive and desire to not only make their girls great cheerleaders, but great human beings. The team and community outreach aspects of cheerleading can help make these girls better people on and off that blue mat.

What are some of the most important skills for a Cheer Coach to have?

I think it's important that a cheer coach at least knows how to cheer and is familiar with the lingo, is familiar with the jumps, stunts, motions, how a routine can be put together, etc. A coach doesn't necessarily need to have to do all those things, but they should know how to do them and how to teach them. Having choreography skills is also a huge plus.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a Cheer Coach?

At the end of the day, dealing with teenage girls can be incredibly dramatic, emotionally strenuous and completely difficult. But I do what I do because I know I am making a difference in these girls' lives. I know I am shaping these young women to be better versions of themselves so that when they leave high school and they leave my cheer program, they will be set to be kind, generous and giving young women. I always say, "I don't care if you don't know how to do a back handspring or don't have a high toe touch at the end of the year, but what I do care about is who you are as a person, and if you leave my program with a better understanding of how important your smile could be to this world, I have done my job."

How Much Do Cheer Coaches Get Paid?

Part-time Cheer Coaches are generally paid on an hourly wage basis, while full-time Cheer Coaches are generally paid on an annual wage basis. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for a Cheer Coach is $31,000, with the lowest-paid earning $17,930 per year and the highest-paid earning $70,050 per year.

Top Ten States for Cheer Coach Salary

Cheer Coaches in the following ten states make the highest median annual wage in the U.S.

    Hawaii

    $51,200

    District of Columbia

    $47,500

    New Jersey

    $46,600

    Alaska

    $46,000

    Arkansas

    $45,900

    West Virginia

    $45,200

    Connecticut

    $40,900

    Mississippi

    $39,700

    Florida

    $39,400

    Louisiana

    $39,100

    Cheer Coach Resources

    We put together this list of resources to help you continue exploring your career as a Cheer Coach.

    On the Web

    Positive Coaching Alliance
    This organization is based on the idea that positive reinforcement and the teaching of life lessons through sports can change and improve the culture of youth sports. They offer live group workshops, online courses, awards programs and partnership opportunities.

    US All Star Federation
    The USASF hosts the Cheerleading Worlds competition, and also offers a member insurance program, an annual meeting for the National All Star Cheerleading Coaches Congress, regional conventions and safety credentialing.

    The Fierce Board
    This forum provides its members with a discussion platform for everything cheer-related, including the cheerleading industry, coaching and skills, as well as All Star, college, high school and recreational cheerleading.

    Cheerleading on Twitter

    @wordsforcheer
    This account is full of inspirational quotes, ideas and tips specifically for Cheer Coaches.

    @cheerUPDATES
    This account is dedicated to cheerleading industry news, from new uniform designs to upcoming cheer events.

    Cheer Coach Books

    Coaching Cheerleading Successfully
    This guide goes over nearly every aspect of being a good Cheer Coach, including teaching techniques, planning tips and fundraising advice.

    The Ultimate Guide to Cheerleading
    Designed for both cheerleaders and Cheer Coaches, this is a great reference book for step-by-step photos, coaching guidelines, safety information and activity ideas.

    The information in this article comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job postings and other online sources.