What is a career in sport and fitness like?
For every professional athlete that steps out onto the field, there are scores of other people supporting them to train and keep healthy.
And, from the journalists who bring us close-up shots of the action to the organisers and managers getting spectators in their seats, there are plenty of people making sure that the spotlight shines on sport.
Many careers in sport & fitness also focus on promoting healthier lifestyles and sports more widely amongst the general public. These roles are essential in making sure that people everywhere have access to sports facilities and the knowledge to train and stay fit.
What sport and fitness jobs can I do?
Athletes are sports people who compete at national and international levels. Most athletes train full time. Some are professional, which means they receive a salary for what they do, but others, like many Olympians, are technically amateurs and rely on funding or sponsorship.
Coaches design training programs, organise and motivate both individuals and teams to play their best. They work with children and adults of all abilities. Most professional teams and athletes will have full time coaches to support them.
Personal trainers tend to work one-on-one and design training programs to help people keep fit or reach a particular goal, like losing weight responsibly or building up strength.
Instructors develop exercise and sports classes for groups of people. PE teachers do the same in schools, helping children to build essential sports skills as well as teaching health and physiology to more advanced students and running after school clubs.
Sports journalists and presenters are sporting experts who provide the news and coverage surrounding our favourite sports.
If you're considering a career in sports journalism, check out our 60 Second Interview with a real sports journalist.
Club / event managers and coordinators run sports clubs or facilities. They put together events and competitions, manage ticket sales and maintain their grounds. There are lots of jobs available in marketing, admin, finance and maintenance at sports clubs too.
Physiotherapists help people get back and stay in shape after an injury. Sports people are always pushing themselves to their physical limits so you’ll usually spot a physio or two on the touchline at a sports event!
Nutritionists develop eating plans and promote healthy eating. They can also develop special diets to help athletes train.
Outdoor activity leaders teach and guide sporting trips for groups in outdoor pursuits like hiking, surfing, paragliding and skiing. For more information on sports and fitness careers, check out our hospitality, leisure & tourism careers zone.
Sports development officers help to develop programmes and projects to encourage people to get involved in sport. They work with local authorities to improve access to sports facilities, including for children and disabled people, and can do some coaching too.
60 Second Interview: Sports Reporter
Is a career in sport and fitness for me?
If you enjoy being active and getting outdoors, a career in sport could be for you.
You must be happy working as part of a team, have a positive attitude and be a good communicator, whether you are playing on the field or working behind the scenes.
A general interest in sports, health and fitness is essential too.
How can I start a career in sport and fitness?
You don’t necessarily need a degree to land a great job in sport, but competition is high and you must show your commitment to all things sporting, so get involved playing, volunteering and assistant coaching as soon as you can. A school team is a great place to start!
GCSE - aim for an 8-4 in Maths, English and IT. Take PE and Biology especially for coaching and healthcare roles.
A-level – think about PE, Biology, Health and Social Care.
Vocational – qualifications include NVQ Sport, Active Leisure and Well-being, BTEC Sport, certificate / diploma in outdoor activities, apprenticeship in active leisure and learning, advanced apprenticeship in sporting excellence (for athletes).
To become a pro athlete, you need to get training. Once you know the sport you want to do, whether it’s tennis, football or motor racing, join a local club and start competing. All professional football clubs run development programmes or academies for young people to train and they often scout around local clubs for talent.
If you are interested in coaching / instructing / personal training, you will need some vocational qualifications after GCSE. For coaching jobs these are specified by the national governing body (NGB) for your sport. You don’t need a formal qualification to get started as an assistant coach though and this could help you land an intermediate or advanced coaching apprenticeship.
Teachers, nutritionists and physiotherapists will need a vocational degree in their chosen subject plus some on the job training.
Sports development jobs usually require you to to study for an NVQ level four / advanced apprenticeship in sports development / coaching or a degree. Coaching experience is real plus for these jobs too.
To work with young people (under 18) you will need to have a background check from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) before you start any job or volunteer role.
For more information on sports and fitness jobs and courses, check out the Jobs and Courses section of our website.
What sport and fitness qualifications are available?
All instructor, coaching and sports development jobs offer the chance to work towards NVQs and QCF qualifications up to level four in a range of areas, from working with disabled people to sports leadership.
You can also gain qualifications and complete career development through the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA).
Did you know these sport and fitness facts?
When Billie Jean King won Wimbledon in the 1960s, she received a £25 gift voucher. When Marion Bartoli and Andy Murray won their singles titles in 2013, they scooped prizes of £1.6million each.
The longest televised golf putt was achieved by none other than Sir Terry Wogan. You can IF.
The 1900 Olympic games in Paris included live pigeon shooting...