Born in Warrington, Sharps is a tall central defender who signed for Tranmere Rovers after serving as a trainee and soon established himself as a first team regular making almost 200 appearances. Sharps joined Rotherham United on a two-year deal during the summer of 2006. Following the 2007–08 season, he signed a new two-year contract with Rotherham. Sharps played his 100th game for the Millers in their FA Cup tie away at Aldershot Town. Despite going through three points deductions, Ian has remained loyal to The Millers and has established himself as one of Rotherham's most consistent performers. Sharps got voted Rotherham United Player of the Year in 2009, resulting him being re-appointed club captain for the 2009 season. On 14 June 2010, Sharps signed for Shrewsbury Town, and was named as club captain. Over a period of 2 seasons, he helped guide Shrewsbury to promotion from League Two in the 2011–12 season. However, despite the accolade, he was to move on, and return to his former club.