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Sport and Active Leisure

Ways in

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NB  To work with children or vulnerable adults, applicants need to undergo checks through the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB).

Leisure Centre Assistants

For poolside work, lifesaving qualifications are essential. Other qualifications that improve the chances of getting a job as a leisure centre assistant could include certificates in first aid and coaching awards

Leisure Centre Managers

Experience of leisure centre work is important before applying for any full-time post. This may be gained through either part-time or voluntary work, for example on summer holiday schemes for children, or as a part-time instructor of fitness classes. Some managers progress from working in other roles (such as leisure centre assistants) or management roles in other organisations. Some might become management trainees after taking a degree, perhaps in sport or leisure management.

Health and Fitness Instructors

There is a register of exercise professionals for which fitness instructors need current insurance and an approved national qualification, such as an NVQ or a related vocational qualification at Level 2 (the usual accepted minimum leve) in fitness instructing,

Outdoor Activities Instructors

Applicants must be at least 18 years old (and over 21 if they are required to drive a minibus). All instructors need a first aid certificate and those teaching water sports also need a lifesaving qualification. There are no set academic qualifications but you will usually require two or more proficiency or coaching awards in relevant outdoor sports from the National Governing Bodies (NGBs) for the sport.

Professional Sport

Entry requirements are mainly based on talent and dedication for the sport chosen. Boxing and horse racing also have very specific height and/or weight requirements. There are various schemes and incentives to help prospective professional sportspeople e.g. Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) for 16-18 year olds with a proven ability, The Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) and grants from SportsAid..

Sport and Exercise Scientist

A degree in sport and exercise science is normally required, although it is not necessary to have any particular aptitude for sport. It may also be possible to enter this career with a degree in a related subject, such as psychology or physical education.

Sports Coach

All sports coaches must have a qualification recognised by the appropriate National Governing Body (NGB) for a particular sport.  NGB qualifications, which correspond to NVQs Levels 1 to 4, are usually studied part time. Coaches in professional sport are often ex-professional sportspeople who have gained coaching qualifications. Others have experience of helping out with sports clubs for young people and a keen interest in the game. A first aid certificate may be required.

Sports Development Officer

Applicants usually have a first degree in sports development, sports studies, sports science, health and exercise sciences, physical education, or recreation/leisure management. Many jobs also specify two years' experience in sports development, and most entrants have experience of voluntary or paid work in coaching, or organising sport at a leisure centre, summer school or holiday camp.


For courses in higher education, see UCAS

For courses in schools and colleges, see UCAS Progress

For Apprenticeship information, including vacancies, see the National Apprenticeship Service