Leisure Jobs and Sports Jobs and Careers
If you love and are hugely committed to sport, then a career in the sports and leisure industry may suit you.
Increasing numbers of people are becoming health conscious and are becoming involved in sports activities in different ways. As community sports and health grows, so do the number of opportunities for employment in this sector.
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Sports at the community level include all manner of recreation facilities, services and activities, offered by public providers and private companies. Large recreation centres offer a wide range of activities, including aquatic activities, gyms and classes. Local authorities hire development personnel to encourage participation throughout local communities, as well as promotional staff for specific events and activities.
- Public sector. Jobs in the local authority-funded sports sector include leisure centre managers, administration staff, instructors, coaches and pool attendants. Office based jobs include sports development staff. Specialists include sports therapists working at centres.
- Private sector. Jobs in the privately run sports sector include managers, sales promotion and membership staff, instructors, coaches and attendants at health clubs and gyms, spas and resorts.
- Self employed. Many coaches and instructors work as freelancers, for themselves and for employers in the public and private sectors.
- Voluntary sector. Some coaches work in the community at weekends and in the evenings, instructing for local football teams or other sports groups and clubs.
Leisure Jobs Management and Administration
Leisure Centre Manager
Leisure centres usually include a swimming pool, a gym, a sports hall, squash courts, and sometimes spa facilities and a therapy area for sport massage, etc. There are often bars and cafes too. The manager usually oversees all of these areas, although some, such as catering, may be franchised out.
Their role includes overseeing marketing, staff management and ensuring all areas of the facility adhere to health and safety guidelines through adequate maintenance and repairs. They are ultimately responsible for the financial viability of the centre.
In a large centre, there may be a head manger who is responsible for strategic decision-making and overall operational management, as well as interaction with the funding authorities. In a large centre, they will manage the team of departmental managers who are responsible for customer-facing services as well as repairs and maintenance, security and cleaning.
This is a role that requires evening and weekend work in return for variety. The pay is not usually high, but an interest in sport and people, coupled with communication and logistical skills is rewarded with a job in which no two days are alike.
Sports Administrator Jobs
Administrators help to ensure the smooth running of a leisure centre, working on everything from membership schemes and publicity to organising and fund-raising for specific schemes or events. They may be involved in every area that requires desk work, apart from direct customer interaction.
This kind of role can be varied and differs according to the centre where it is held. Administrators can also work in centralised offices, such as within local authorities, where they can be involved with a diversity of community schemes in different locations. A versatile and flexible approach is as valuable as administration skills and an interest in sport.
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Sports Instruction Jobs
Sports Coach / Fitness Instructor / Personal Trainers Jobs
Away from management and administration, sports coaches work in centres or out in the field or community, interacting directly with clients and participants in sporting activities. Their goal is to encourage the participants to get the most from their activities and develop their performances.
A major part of the coach or instructor's role is to recognise needs and develop appropriate training programmes. These will be different depending on the client groups involved. Some coaches and trainers are freelance and work for several different clubs or groups, while maybe renting a hall themselves to run regular classes. Others work part-time and combine the role with another job.
The individual obviously needs to be proficient at the sports they are specialising in. Some knowledge of teaching and instruction is required, training in how to develop untrained people in a sport without causing injury, plus an understanding of how to support and motivate people from varying backgrounds.
Swimming Instructors Jobs
Swimming instructors deliver regular classes at swimming pool facilities, either for the regular public members or for schools classes visiting during weekday hours. Some may run classes for people with disabilities. They hold qualifications in training people in aquatic sports, as well as understanding health and movement issues that may limit people's abilities or lead to problems in the pool. They have much responsibility for public health and safety around the pool.
Swimming Pool Attendants / Lifeguards Jobs
Staff who work around public or privately run swimming pools are responsible primarily for ensuring safety of the public. Strong swimmers themselves, they are trained in all aspects of maintaining safety and handling situations that arise, particularly those relating to health or first aid. These roles are frequently part-time and are held by people who are in training for sports qualifications.
Sports Development and Promotion
Sports Development Officers
Working for local authorities, sports development officers are tasked with maximising public involvement with sport. Their aim is to engage all sectors of the local communities through a range of sports and access routes. This means distributing information about events and programmes, classes and projects, as well as regularly running clubs and training.
Targeted participants range from those who wish to do a little exercise to more serious sports prospects. As all community sectors should be included, sports development personnel often work with schools, charities and other initiatives that touch on sport.
Sports Marketing and Promotion
Sports marketing officers are responsible for promoting and advertising sports facilities, events and programmes for local authorities, private organisations and non-profit organisations. Depending on the level of responsibility, the marketing officer or manager may make strategic decisions, devising marketing plans that include research, advertising, distribution, pricing and selling. Gaining sponsorship is also an important aspect of the work.
Other promotional team members can include PR and press managers and officers, who work to publicise activities, programmes and organisations via the media.
Sports Therapist Jobs
As the name suggests, sports therapists help people who have sustained injuries during sporting activities or performance. A sports therapist is a professional healthcare professional who will treat the problem and assist with rehabilitation by devising a programme of exercises and treatment.
They are also concerned with improvement of performance, increasing mobility and enhancing general fitness, as well as preventing injury from occurring. These therapists can work in healthcare environments or from their own treatment rooms. They can also consult with professional sports teams or provide sessions at leisure centres.
These allied health professionals require extensive training, not just in a bodywork approach but in different sports and their respective impacts on the body.
Sports Psychologist Jobs
Sports psychologists are tasked with preparing athletes psychologically for competitions and to help them cope with training regimes. They work with sports people in both teams and individual sports, helping them to cope with the stress and demands of their unique professional life, such as returning to work after injuries. With teams, the psychologists work to create firmer bonding and team performance.
Working with the public, psychologists are involved with using their skills to motivate people to exercise more. This can involve helping people to set goals and to appreciate the benefits of exercise. Sports and exercise psychologists are highly trained, usually with a degree in sports psychology, or a psychology degree with some postgraduate study in the sports application.
Would a Job in Sports and Leisure Suit Me?
The vast majority of active sports jobs involve a considerable amount of customer focus. No matter how much you love sports, you have to enjoy working with people just as much. You also need to have excellent interpersonal and communication skills, bearing in mind that you'll be working closely with any number of people without necessarily getting along with them all on a personal level. It will feel very different to your own sporting activities.
All the sports jobs mentioned involve not only sports abilities but some level of study, with the majority involving a degree of some description. For all this study, you will be rewarded more for doing something you love than receiving a financial benefit. You'll have to work long hours, often including evenings and weekends.
As well as studying a sports science or leisure management to degree level, you'll need to take further qualifications with a recognised body. You can frequently do this while working, but be aware that the better jobs only become open to you once you hold association memberships. Lower level qualifications include NVQs and diplomas. Competition for permanent full-time roles is fierce, so don't imagine you can do anything more involved than reception work or membership advice until you gain certificates.
Leisure Jobs Sites / Sports Jobs Sites
- News, training and jobs - Leisure Opportunities and Leisure Vacancies
- News and jobs in the sports industry - Sports Management
- Leisure Jobs' websites include - Leisure Jobs and UK Sport
- British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences - BASES Careers Centre