Careers opportunities in sports

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VIJAY GARG
To get into most sports as a career, you realistically need to be already competing and winning at a high level while you’re still at school. There aren’t any qualifications required to be a athlete. However, it’s a good idea to fit some in alongside training as almost all athletes need a second career when they retire from sport. You might choose qualifications that will help you into one of the other careers on this list, such as coaching, or study something else that interests you.
Some universities are geared up towards helping students of all subjects to train and compete in sport to a high level so you could, say, study history or engineering while making the most of these opportunities.
Sports coach/sports instructor: As a sports coach or instructor you’ll train people up in a particular sport, and/or lead group fitness sessions. You might work with children or adults of any level, and might be employed by a sports club, charity, community group, gym, sports governing body or school. A lot of positions are part-time, so you might need to coach for more than one employer or have a different job too.
To become a sports coach or instructor you’ll need a good level of ability in that sport and often a coaching qualification from relevant sports governing body. These tend to involve a few days of face-to-face learning and sometimes some work to complete at home as well. For some jobs you’ll also need to have competed in that sport to a specified level yourself (eg at county level or regional level). For jobs working with children, previous experience working with children is often sought.
Sports Development Officer: Sports development officers help run initiatives aimed at encouraging people to get involved in sport. Sometimes these are aimed at everyone in a local community; other times they are aimed at a particular group, such as older people. Tasks can involve finding and applying for sources of funding, keeping track of budgets, managing sports coaches and volunteers, and planning, organising and promoting the initiatives, for example through social media. Sometimes the jobs are combined with a sports coaching role, meaning that you’ll lead some of the activities yourself. You might be employed by a local authority, a sports governing body, a charity or a community association, for example. It’s likely that there will be some evening and weekend work involved, as this is when sports events and activities are most likely to be held. Entry requirements vary. For all jobs you’re likely to require relevant experience (for example through work experience placements and/or volunteering). In terms of qualifications, some employers value a sports-related degree; others prefer a sports coaching qualification.
Physical Education Teacher: PE Teachers plan and deliver lessons, assess students and arrange matches with other schools/colleges.
To become a PE teacher you need a degree and to obtain qualified teacher status (QTS). You can either take an undergraduate (first) degree in physical education that includes gaining QTS, or take a degree in a related subject and then gain QTS afterwards – the most common way to do this is to take a one-year postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) before applying for jobs.
Sports lawyer: Sports lawyers advise their clients on the legal aspects of sport, and may also represent them in court. Their work can cover commercial agreements (for example regarding sponsorship and advertising), broadcasting rights for sporting events, employment contracts, transfers, injuries, sports regulation and disciplinary matters. Lawyers are divided into barristers (who frequently speak in court, and provide advice to solicitors on specialist areas) and solicitors (who provide lots of advice directly to clients). By far the most common route to becoming a solicitor or barrister is by taking a degree (either in law or in something else) followed by further education and training.
Sports physiotherapist: Sports physiotherapists work with athletes (professional and amateur) to help them overcome and prevent injuries. For example, they may assess an injury, develop a treatment plan and deliver it, such as by manual therapy (manipulating body parts), massage, hydrotherapy or setting exercises. Some sports physiotherapists are employed by sports clubs – if you work with professional athletes you’re likely to attend training sessions and competitions/ matches around the country or at international level. You could also work for a private physiotherapy clinic, or set up your own.
To become a sports physiotherapist you’ll need a degree in physiotherapy. You could do this either as an undergraduate (first) degree, or as a masters (a higher level degree) after studying a related subject first.

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