Working in Sport

Not many of us have the ability or aptitude required to become a world-class Athlete.  But if you’ve an interest in and passion for sport, there’s a wide range of related roles and opportunities out there.

Supporting the stars

Aside from the competitors themselves, a vast support team is involved in preparing Athletes for competition, from youth training schemes which help identify and develop potential stars, through to Professional Trainers and Coaches.

Medical professionals who have specialised in sports-related medicine play a key part in helping Athletes compete.  Roles include Physiotherapists who restore Athletes’ movement and function, Injury Specialists who treat musculo-skeletal problems, such those in the  muscles, bones and joints, and Sports Psychologists who teach mental techniques to help maximise performance, aid concentration, and manage nerves.

Read about Physiotherapists at London 2012  here.

Sport organisations

Sitting behind a desk may not immediately spring to mind when thinking of sports-related jobs, but there are a number of opportunities in sports administration. 

Sport England is focused on helping people and communities across the country create a sporting habit for life.

UK Sport is the nation’s high performance sports agency responsible for investing over £100 million per year in Britain’s best Olympic and Paralympic Athletes. Read our interview with Kevin ParkerHead of Mission Control at UK Sport. As well as listing organisational vacancies, UK Sport’s job section carries details of sports jobs across the UK, from Receptionists to Performance Analysts.

UK Anti-Doping is responsible for protecting sport from the threat of doping in the UK.

Sports federations

A sports federation is the independent governing body for a particular sport, perhaps the most well-known of which is The Football Association (the FA).  Employment opportunities within sporting federations vary, some federations offer paid positions, whilst other rely more heavily on volunteer roles.  Sports federations can advise on becoming a Referee or Sports Official.

Sports development

Sports development is about encouraging participation in sport, in people at all ages and abilities.  Work can include supporting organised sports teams to helping people get active through more gentle exercise such as walking or Pilates.

Watch Sports Development Officer Fay Whall’s career story.

Sports equipment design, manufacture and retail

Nets, goalposts, artificial turf, gymnastic apparatus, cricket bats, parts for Formula One cars…the list goes on in terms of sports equipment and supplies which are manufactured in the UK, not to mention the range of technical engineering and design-based roles essential to the world of sport.   Find out more from Racing Car Designer Steven Halsall.

Working in sports retail is another popular option – from jobs in high street chains through to specialist independent shops, there’s a wide variety of sports and roles to choose from.

Sports venues

Stadiums, race courses, football grounds, running tracks, swimming pools…every sports venue requires a team of people to keep it running.  Jobs are available in areas such as marketing, ticketing, catering and hospitality.  Ensuring sports facilities are kept in optimum condition requires a number of more specialist roles including Professional Groundsmen, who are responsible for ensuring appropriate playing surfaces.

Watch Food and Beverage Manager at Sheffield United Football Club, Andy Smith’s career story.

Major sporting events

Annual sporting events such as the London Marathon or The Wimbledon Championships employ people year-round to work on planning, development and delivery.  Similarly, one-off fixtures such as the London 2012 Olympic Games or the Glasgow Commonweath Games in 2014 require large teams of people to set up, organise and manage their events.  Major sporting events can provide a good opportunity to get work experience – look out for temporary or voluntary opportunities where extra staff are required for a short period of time.

Read our interview with Sarah Cook, Senior Events  Manager for London 2012 and The Royal Parks.

Sponsorship

Sponsorship plays a large role in sports funding, and also employs a number of people in sponsorship roles. Large companies often have their own sponsorship team whose job it is to identify potential Athletes or sports to sponsor, and then to liaise with the relevant sports bodies, teams or venues to work out how they can achieve appropriate brand exposure. In the same way sports venues and teams often have dedicated staff who approach potential sponsors and then work out an suitable benefits package – such as branded hoardings, naming rights or VIP tickets – that a sponsor will get in return for their investment.

Find out more from Professional Snowboarder turned Sports Marketeer for Roxy, Stine Brun-Kjeldaas.

Going for Gold

Not all Athletes have the option of being full-time professionals, and many Athletes combine their training with other workJenny Davis is a Customer Services Representative and Semi-Professional Cyclist, whilst James Wright juggles being an Athlete with his job as General Assistant at Lee Valley Athletics Centre.

Want to find out more?

Careers in Sport is hosting a number of free conferences to highlight career and training options in the industry. The conferences will be held in London, the Midlands and Wales, from September to November 2012.

The Open University has some useful information on sports and fitness courses.

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