Sport & Leisure Management
The sport and leisure industry covers a wide range of areas with jobs in sectors such as sport and recreation and health and fitness but also tourism, events and management.
Although sport and leisure management courses are highly vocational courses, the fact that you gain an understanding of issues relating to psychology, sociology and social policy means you could move into roles within the public sector. These could include policy planning, community development and social work. Your voluntary work and vacation and term time jobs can be very important in breaking into this sector.
Where do I start?
Within the sports and leisure management industry you could pursue a wide range of different career choices. Prospects has a useful list of job profiles each containing relevant information about key responsibilities, skill requirements, starting salaries, entry requirements, career prospects with links to major employers and current graduate vacancies.
Jobs roles in this sector include:
- Exercise physiologist
- Fitness centre manager
- Health promotion specialist
- Nutritional therapist
- Outdoor activities/Education manager
- Sport and exercise psychologist
- Sports administrator
- Sports coach
- Sports development officer
- Sports therapist
- Sports journalist (please refer to our Journalism Career Guide)
As part of your job hunting strategy you will need to keep up to date on developments in this sector and keep track of any vacancies that are coming up. The knowledge gained through your research may help you to target your applications and will help when preparing for interviews.
Below are some key resources to help you research opportunities available:
- British Association of Sports and Exercise - Offers comprehensive information and advice on careers in sports and exercise science as well a list of job vacancies.
- Chartered Institute for the Management of Sports and Physical Activities - Helps you to find out more about some of the varied career paths available in the sector as well as advice on job interviews and a jobs board.
- Careers in Sport Guide - Provides analysis of the different career options available in the world of sport, providing helpful advice on the qualifications and experience required for a career in sport.
- Leisure Opportunities - Useful website with job vacancies and the latest industry news.
- National Careers Service - Provides a range of job profiles available in the sports industry for you to research including information on entry routes and how to gain specific experience.
It can be very helpful to gain related work experience to complement your degree.
The more experience across different areas you can gain, the stronger your applications will be. As well as providing you with more knowledge, gaining experience will also help you to decide which specific direction you wish to take.
You could work in the sport and leisure industry as a fitness instructor or in an administrative role. It may also be possible to gain marketing or events management experience, perhaps through university societies or through voluntary work. Work experience and travel opportunities can be combined during the vacation and summer periods.
Think broadly what kind of sector you want to get into and where you enjoy working; what group of people you want to work with and then research the sector you want to try to get into.
The key to success is to prepare thoroughly, do your research and organise your experience in good time. Places to gain experience could include summer vacation coaching positions. The University of Portsmouth Sports and Recreation offers a range of opportunities for students to get involved in coaching and officiating, developing their skill and work in the local community. Find out how to get involved at the University of Portsmouth’s Sports Volunteering Hub.
Finding experience will take time and effort; employers receive many CVs every week so you will have to work hard to stand out from the crowd. You can find out more about how to create a targeted CV through the Purple Door website.
Internships and volunteering are valuable ways of gaining experience. Try youth sport work experience if you are interested in coaching, or find an opportunity to staff a sports event if you want to pursue a management role. It may also be possible to gain marketing or events management experience.
It is also worth considering the voluntary sector for work experience.
Purple Door offers current students and graduates access to a Virtual Volunteering Bank which provides local opportunities to undertake alongside your studies. Similarly you can access these opportunities through the paper-based bank located in the Purple Door careers centre.
If you wish to instigate voluntary work experience during the vacation periods please refer to ‘External sites’ on the voluntary work experience section on our website.
Tips to build experience
- Join one of the many university societies to gain new skills, boost your CV and improve your job opportunities when you graduate.
- Seize opportunities to work with a different variety of clients and customers as this will help you to understand the target group you would like to work with in the future.
- Volunteer in local sports community projects during your summer vacation.
- Sign-up with coaching and refereeing opportunities with the University of Portsmouth Sports and Recreation Department.
Finding a job
As sport is increasingly playing an important part in areas such as health, education and social inclusion, it’s not just sports-based organisations that will be your main potential employers.
You could go into many specific areas such as teaching, coaching, sport science support, sports development and management, marketing and the health and fitness sectors.
The range of employers who recruit in these areas include:
- Fitness and leisure centres
- Professional sports clubs
- Governing bodies for sports
- Health and sports development centres
- Hotels and accommodation facilities as well as spas.
Sport and leisure management graduates are also finding opportunities within:
- Event management companies, organising and running festivals, concerts, exhibitions and corporate or private parties.
- Leisure management consultancies, providing advice to the public and private sector on how best to manage their sports and leisure facilities.
Self-employment is also possible and after gaining experience some graduates establish sports consultancy businesses or set-up sports camps or training centres providing one-to-one personal training. However, there is an element of unpredictability if client numbers decrease unexpectedly.
Get advice on starting or growing a business from our Enterprise Team. Please see below for further advice about freelancing.
Below is a list of useful websites to help you start your job search
- Jobs with balls - Comprehensive website with useful career advice and list of employers and agencies who advertise vacancies.
- Sport England - Contains jobs board with a variety of roles across numerous sports.
- English Institute of Sport – Jobs board listing different opportunities within the sports sector.
- Society of Sports Therapists - Useful website if you are interested in pursuing a career in sports therapy.
- Get into teaching - Provides information on the various routes into teaching including primary and PE information.
Tips for finding a job
- Think broadly about the sports sector and all the different opportunities it offers and try to think what you would specifically like to pursue and focus on.
- Keep up to date with the sports and leisure management sector news and trends by following professional bodies on Twitter. This information might help you identify opportunities to network and tap into the hidden jobs market.
- Explore various areas within the sector you want to get into; knowing what you want to specialise in will help you focus your research and ensure you gain relevant skills.
- Get involved in relevant sports university societies or external groups. This is a good way of demonstrating your motivation and interest within this area of work. Many recruiters are looking for recent evidence of balancing university commitments with extra-curricular activities throughout your higher education studies.
- Be proactive and make direct contact with organisations that interest you and apply speculatively; send a targeted CV and a covering letter focused on why you are interested in them and why they should be interested in you.
- Create a LinkedIn profile to network with sector employers - see our Networking and Social Media section for further guidance.
Follow on Twitter or Facebook to receive news, information about current projects for this specific industry sector and to tap into the hidden jobs market
Need more help and information?
How can Purple Door help you?
Purple Door offers support to students throughout their studies and provision for graduates up to five years after graduation, with advice and guidance on:
- Career options
- Further study
- CV and Covering Letters
- Application forms
- Job search
- And more......
Please visit services for you for more details about our support and services.
Purple Door has an online Jobsboard advertising a variety of graduate jobs across different sectors and locations. We also have a dedicated in-house Recruitment Consultancy team that delivers a personalised matching job service.
Remember if you are not on campus you can still access our services via telephone or Skype booked appointments, please contact us to discuss your needs.
If you need more information why not check out some of the resources below to help you to research the sector in more depth.
Working as a Sports Practioner
- Sports Coach UK – Provides information on coaching opportunities, funding and latest sector news.
- Sports Recruitment International - Works in partnership with a number of local and international organisations across sports, media and entertainment. These include rights holders, professional clubs & teams, international federations, governing bodies, corporate sponsors, venues, major events, broadcasters, media owners, agencies and sporting goods brands.
Working in sports promotion
- Sportcal - Delivers sports analysis and insight to a range of global clients. Sportcal is a useful resource for anyone interested in getting involved in this sector.
- Keith Prowse - One of the UK’s leading hospitality and tour providers, specialising in sporting and cultural events.
- Octagon - A global sports, entertainment, lifestyle marketing and talent representation agency of the Interpublic Group.
- BBC Kick Off Trainee Sports Reporter- Training scheme for sports reporters.
- Satellite Information Services - Operates a number of racing channels and provides information for bookmakers, it also offers job opportunities under the careers section.