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Sports and Physical Activity

About the sector

It is key that physical activity and sport is managed and delivered by a diverse range of people who are inclusive, highly skilled, and able to join the movement in ensuring everyone enjoys the benefits of an active lifestyle. Careers in this growing sector are widely varied: the sector is made up by six core industries and there are countless opportunities for fulfilling fast paced and interesting careers.

The sector is defined by six core industries and within those industries sit many professional roles.

Across the six industries there are some core roles that are integral to our sector that you might not immediately think of when exploring jobs in Sport & Physical Activity. such as Project Managers, Marketing & Communications and Business Development or Fundraising Officers.

About the Sports and physical Activity sector

18,910 Number of jobs in the sector in Essex in 2020
51% Female and 49% Male Workforce split
£40.1k or £19.29/hr Average pay for Leisure and Sports Managers
£25.2k or £12.09/hr Average pay Sports Coaches, Instructors and Officials
£25.1k or £10.62/hr Average pay Fitness Instructors:
£19.8k or £9.51/hr Average pay Sports and Leisure Assistants

Exercise and Fitness

Services, activities, and venues that predominantly improve participant physical fitness.

Job roles include 

• Personal Trainer
• Fitness Facility Manager
• Gym Instructor
• Group Exercise Instructor

Health and wellbeing

Holistic services and activities that promote improvements across all aspects of health, sometimes involving health care and other non-sector professionals.

Job roles include 

• Pilates, Yoga or Tai Chi Instructor
• Long Term Health Condition Specialist
(e.g., Cancer Rehab Exercise Instructor)
• Health Navigator


Professional Sport

Competitive sport and activities in which athletes and supporting team receive payment for their performance.

Job roles include 

• Athlete
• Nutritionist
• Analysist
• Strength & Conditioning Coach


Community Sport

Sport/skill based services, activities and venues that increase participation and develop skill, sometimes targeting underrepresented groups and inequalities.

Job roles include 

• Coach
• Referee
• Youth worker

Leisure Operations

Leisure Operations Services, activities and venues that predominantly improve participation in physical activity.

Job roles include 

• Swimming Instructor
• Leisure Centre Manager
• Recreation Assistant
• Lifeguard

Adventure Sport

Adventure Sport Activities, services and venues both indoor and outdoor improving participation in physical activity perceived as having a high level of risk.

Job roles include 

• Outdoor Activities Instructor
• Water Sports Instructor
• Outdoor Centre Manager

Sport Development

Sport and physical activity is not only an exciting form of entertainment: it plays a truly valuable role in defining cultures and developing communities. Sport Development roles can be found in:

• Active Partnerships (Active Essex)
• National Governing Bodies
• Local Authorities
• Leisure Operators
• Charities
• Small to medium sized businesses (SME’s)

Active Essex

Active Essex is the Physical Activity and Sport Partnership for Essex, Southend and Thurrock, and are one of 42 Active Partnerships in England who work collaboratively with local partners to ensure the power of physical activity and sport can transform lives.

The county needs a highly skilled and diverse workforce who are equipped to meet the wide-ranging needs of Essex communities. Essex has a strong and vibrant
sport and physical activity sector full of opportunities within clubs, leisure centres, charities and businesses and Active Essex are working hard with employers to give
you positive experiences and opportunities.


Everyone is different. There isn’t one single answer to helping people get and stay active or develop their skills. That’s why understanding the people you’re working with and knowing your audience is so fundamental. You might have a clear idea now, of the environment or population you’d like to work with, or this might come further into your career as you progress. Examples of these specialisms are;

Population specialisms

• Working with Children
• Working with Children 0-5 years
• Working with Antenatal and
Postnatal Clients
• Working with Long Term Health
Condition Clients

Environment specialisms

• Working in the School Environment
• Coaching in High Performance Sport
• Working in the Community Environment

Occupations supported directly by other professional bodies

Across the six industries there are some core roles that are integral to our sector, that you might not immediately think of when exploring jobs in Sport & Physical Activity. You might want to study Marketing & Communications, Business or Project Management but specialise within the Sport & Physical Activity Industries. Examples of these roles are;

Job roles include 

• PE Teacher
• Sports Journalist
• Physiotherapist
• Marketing & Communications
• Project Managers
• Business Operations
• Front of House Role; Receptionists

How To Get into Careers In Sport?

There is a wide range of pathways into the industry, from apprenticeships to a BTEC and a university degree. It is important to explore the role or industry you’re interested in, to understand your best route, explore CIMSPAs professional standards, speak with employers and consider what suits you best.

Take a look at some of your options:

Work-based & work-related qualifications

Some roles require industry specific qualifications which training providers and awarding bodies run. These qualifications can be embedded into education pathways or completed at any time by an individual who is looking for role in the Sport & Physical Activity Sector.

• National Governing Body Coaching Qualifications - Level 1, 2
or 3 coaching certificates
• Level 2 in Gym Instructing, Level 3 Exercise Referral, Level 4
Cancer Rehab
• Multi Sports
• First Aid
• Safeguarding
• Mental Health Awareness

Further education

Further education can pave the way for a degree or further your knowledge as a steppingstone into a career. A useful tip is to study job descriptions for roles you’re interested in, to understand what employers are looking for.

Useful A Levels might include:
• Sports Studies
• Biology
• Business Studies
• Phycology
• PE

Already know that a degree is the way you want to break into the sector? Head to UCAS and find out what qualifications you’ll need for the course that interests you. Industry-specific degree programmes in this area include Bachelor’s programmes in:
• Sport and Exercise Sciences
• Sport Management
• Sport Coaching
• Physical Education


An apprenticeship is a real job with training, which allows trainees to earn while they learn, as well as often gaining a nationally recognised qualification. They cover 1,500 job roles in a wide range of industries, from sport and physical activity to business, public health to media.

There are four types or levels of apprenticeship available in England, they are:
• Intermediate apprenticeships (Level 2)
• Advanced apprenticeships (Level 3)
• Higher apprenticeships (Level 4 and above)
• Degree apprenticeships (Levels 6 — 7)

The benefit of an apprenticeship is that you can earn a living whilst you are learning. You are within a company which is investing in your future and you have the opportunity to forge a career within that company and rise through their ranks. As you complete a level, you can progress to the next one, or change pathway and embark on a new route to achievement.

Apprenticeships are popular route for students wanting to gain hands on, practical experience alongside their studies, giving them the opportunity to ‘work while you learn’. These start at Level 2 and offer progression through to degree level if desired. CIMSPA Approved Apprenticeship standards
• Leisure Duty Manager
• Personal Trainer
• Community Sport and Health Officer
• Community Activator Coach
• Leisure Team Member
• Sports Coach


Experience is equally as important as qualifications and employers will be looking for behaviours and skills that are transferable to the role you’re applying for. We highly recommend exploring volunteering roles within the sector, this will help build your CV, develop your experience, and grow confidence. It is also proven to positively impact your mental wellbeing.

Example opportunities:

• Volunteering at a local sports club or organisation in areas such as coaching, officiating or running social
media channels.
• Supporting events like local Park Runs, Mud Runs or Races.
• Many Sports organisations are not-for profit and are therefore run by Boards or Committees. Often a young person voices is valued, so you could explore becoming a young trustee or part of the committee if you were interested in how organisations run.

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