Chess Career 101: Everything You Need To Know

Are you interested in starting a career in chess? But not sure how to begin? Don’t worry; you are exactly in the right place.

In this guide, I will share with you everything that you need to know about the chess careers, opportunities, and more so that you exactly know what will be the right path for you! So, without any further ado, let’s get started!

Is There Any Career In Chess?

Before starting a career in chess, one of the first things that come to mind is chess’s scope and career possibility, right?

There is a chess career; for example, you can become a professional chess player, chess coach, chess arbiter, chess programmer, etc. Although you may have to work hard to develop all the required skills, you can set a good career in chess once you are skilled enough.

Like in any other field, you have to be the best to be successful in chess. If you are an average-level chess player, then I’m not saying you can’t develop a chess career. But as you might have guessed, it will be an uphill battle for you.

Plus, another important thing you should note while thinking about chess as a career is that you need to combine many different skills and your chess knowledge. By only relying on your chess skills, your career opportunities will be a bit limited. You can only become a professional chess player, and that’s it!

However, if you can combine your other skills with chess, then many opportunities will open up for you. For example:

  • Good Teaching Skills + Chess Knowledge = Good Chess Coach
  • Good Reporting/Journalism Skills + Chess Knowlege = Good Chess Reporter/Journalist
  • Good Communication Skills + Good Chess Knowledge = Good Chess Commentator
  • Good Programming Skills + Good Chess Knowledge = Good Chess Programmer

Likewise, once you start combining your other skills with your chess knowledge, there are many career pathways.

Here’s a video by Vidit Gujarathi where he shares his thoughts on the topic of can you make a career in chess. Watch the video for more info:

Now let’s explore all the possible career opportunities in chess in detail!

Top Career Opportunities In Chess:

#1. Professional Chess Player

The first and the most visible option for establishing a career in chess is to become a professional chess player. Many chess tournaments occur everywhere around the world.

If you can find the best tournaments, especially the FIDE Rated ones with huge prize money, you can start earning money by winning those tournaments.

However, winning a tournament is not that easy. You will be competing against some of the most powerful brains out there. So you have to constantly train yourself and improve your chess-playing skills to win those tournaments.

If you are thinking about being a professional chess player, you can also check out my article on how chess players make money.

#2. Chess Coach

If you are a good chess player and like teaching, becoming a chess coach is the right career pathway.

Coaching is one of the best ways to make a living off chess. Although your earning potential will largely depend on your credentials (what rating you have, the level of player you are, your title). But, if you are passionate about teaching chess, you can eventually keep growing in this field.

If you live in a city where chess is quite popular, this can be an added benefit. You can choose this career option as your part-time or full-time career and offer coaching sessions. 

Not only offline, but you can offer coaching sessions online. (The benefit of online coaching is the ease of getting in touch even with students outside your country)

You can give private one-to-one coaching or group coaching to your students. In the United States, the national average salary for a chess coach is about $21 per hour. And the estimated total pay for a chess coach is nearly $66,620 per year in the United States.

#3. Chess Arbiter

If you already play professional chess, you might know who an arbiter is. In very simple words, they can be described as a referee of a chess game played in a professional tournament.

The arbiter is the one who is responsible for ensuring all the rules and regulations are followed properly in a chess tournament.

A chess tournament without an arbiter is like conducting a sporting event without any referee or umpire. Hence, the role of the arbiter is quite important in a professional chess game.

To establish a career in this field, you can start from your local club level. You can offer your help to the club as an arbiter and, side by side, also start familiarizing yourself with all the laws of chess.

Then, as you gain some experience, you can start looking for providing your help in relatively larger chess events. Usually, larger chess events will also have about 2 or 3 arbiters. So by going to those chess events and offering your help, you could also get in touch with other professional arbiters.

Gradually, you can build experience, connection, and reputation. You can also enroll yourself in your local or national federation arbiter training programs and thus acquire all the necessary skills and credentials. This way, eventually, you can build a career as a chess arbiter.

#4. Chess Programmer

Do you love both programming and chess? Then this career opportunity is for you. If you can learn the programming languages and be a skilled programmer, then there are different ways you can proceed in this field.

You can develop a chess program for fellow chess players that can aid them in analyzing their game. Or you can develop chess programs for any other purpose as well. You can also work with big chess software companies looking for programmers with a background in chess.

You can also do freelancing and develop chess software, chess apps, and various online tools using your programming and coding skills, and you can sell your services to your clients.

Moreover, you can develop your own chess app and even make it a paid app and start earning money.

#5. Chess Reporter

All over the world, various major chess tournaments are held. So you can become a chess reporter and start covering those tournaments. 

You can either be part of big brands or record videos while working under them. You can also write news articles for chess news websites related to the major chess events that keep happening.

#6. Chess Commentator

Many websites show the live stream of big chess tournaments and their commentaries. If you have good communication skills and a good understanding of chess, this is another career option in chess you might get interested in.

To be a good chess commentator, you need to have:

  • Good Communication Skills
  • Good Chess Knowledge
  • Good Presence of Mind

You will need time, experience, and practice to develop the skills mentioned above. So my advice would always be to observe how the other commentators offer their commentary of a chess game. Observing them, you can pick up many techniques that can benefit you in your chess commentator career.

#7. Chess Book Writer

Do you love to write chess-related stuff? So, if you like to share your knowledge with other chess lovers out there, you can become an author of a chess book. 

You can write the biography of some well-known chess player or write on topics such as chess openings, chess strategies, and any chess-related concepts and publish your chess book. 

You may have to associate yourself with some reputable book publishing companies and publish your book through them. But then, your profits from selling your books will get split between you and the publishing company.

For the long-term income stream, becoming a chess book writer is a good career option because once your book becomes famous and a brand is established, you can start earning from it almost through your entire life. 

By the effort of one time, you can keep getting the earnings for the long term. 

However, you may need to have another supporting income stream unless you are a very famous and best-selling chess book writer.

#8. Online Chess Content Creator

Another career option in chess is to become an online chess content creator. You can become a Chess YouTuber, A Chess Blogger, and using the internet; you can reach a lot of chess enthusiasts like you across the globe.

Becoming a Chess YouTuber may not be as easy as you may think. 

You have to understand how to create helpful, engaging videos, how to create better content consistently, and learn various video editing and many other skills.

Likewise, if you are thinking of becoming a chess blogger, you also have to learn how to create a blog, write articles that can rank, bring traffic to your posts, do content optimizations, and other skills. 

So you will have to work hard and dedicate time to learn all the required skills. However, if you are passionate about chess and are ready to start your career online, becoming an online chess content creator can be a great option. 

With the internet boom, there are more and more people trying to establish their careers online. So competition is increasing every day.

And although the role of online chess content creator is not for everyone, if YOU can carve out your unique space online, if you can develop the audience and fan following around you, then this is the path you should look after.

If you want to become a Chess YouTuber, start watching videos about how to become a chess YouTuber and educate yourself as much as you can. Then along with that, don’t waste any further time and launch your YouTube channel.

You can keep learning and growing side by side by creating videos.

In the case of blogging, you need to learn the required content creation skills and blogging skills, and with time you can keep improving in this field.

#9. Online Chess Content Freelancer

You can become a freelance chess content writer. You can tie up with major chess firms or blogs looking for chess writers. You can then create valuable content for the readers and make your living as a freelance content writer.

If you choose this career opportunity, you will be combining your chess knowledge and freelancing writing skills to develop your career.

There are many skills you will have to learn, like reaching out to potential clients, developing good communication with them, and developing the content writing skills to be a successful freelancer content writer.

This field has lots of potential for earning as long as you can establish a good portfolio, connections, and experience as a freelance chess writer. 

#9. Chess Material Supplier

You can also become a chess material supplier. Although in chess, the scope of a variety of materials you can supply is relatively less. However, if you can understand the business model, it can be another career option in chess you can consider.

In chess, mainly, chess sets and chess clocks are the only things you can supply for tournaments near you. You can start as a chess goodies supplier in your local area first.

Then you can slowly you can expand your reach by covering larger areas. You can also set up your online chess supplying store like Chess House, ChessBazaar, House Of Staunton, etc. And then, you can promote your business using various marketing strategies.

The only problem with this career option is like any other business; here also, you will require a sum of money to start and invest in your business. However, if you are interested in combining business skills and your chess knowledge, then this can be another chess career option you choose.

#10. Working For Chess Federations

Another opportunity for a chess career is to work under your respective country’s chess federations of the International Chess Federation (FIDE).

You can look for vacancies for various job posts released by the chess federations. You can apply for those jobs, and if you have the required skills, you can get accepted into those jobs.

Final Thoughts

So finally, as you have seen, there are different career opportunities in chess. In short, you should first decide what type of chess player you are. Then, if you are very good at playing chess, you should keep on moving ahead and keep improving that skill. 

You can aim to become a good FIDE Rated Player (for example, an IM or GM), and then you can make your career as a professional chess player.

But if you are combining your chess skills with other skills like teaching, communication, writing, programming, etc., then you can choose all other career options in chess that I shared in this article. 

And finally, I think that you should not rely on just one income source. For example, if you are a professional chess player, then you can also offer chess coaching side by side. Moreover, you can also start your online chess creator or freelancer journey.

Likewise, you can keep on experimenting a bit with all the career opportunities until you find the ones you like the most and are comfortable with. 

Then you can just stick with them through the rest of your life, enjoying your work and making a living out of it. Yes, you will have to manage your time correctly, so none of the work is affected, but this way, you will get a clear idea of what you should choose as your career in chess.

That’s it! I hope this guide has given you a good idea of how to start your career in chess. Please consider sharing this article with other chess players and your chess friends if you found it helpful. Thank You 🙂

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