‘It’s not about whether you win or lose. It’s about how you play the game.’ Also, it doesn’t hurt to get paid for it…
If you eat, sleep and breathe sport, finding a job that combines your passion with your profession could be the perfect career move for you. However, sometimes the hardest part is knowing just what jobs are out there available to you.
To prove it’s not all shorts and whistles, here are some jobs in sport you could be doing right now (no P.E. equipment necessary):
What they do: Represent a player in all aspects of their career. They negotiate contracts on behalf of the player, put them forward for and manage potential transfers, handle marketing and endorsement activities, and can even act as advisors in their business deals. They also take care of the resulting paperwork which comes with all of the above (clue: there is a lot).
What you need: Aside from excellent negotiation skills, an in-depth knowledge of the market is of paramount importance. Agents must know how much their client is worth, how the market looks, and what offers are out there. You will not need a degree, but you will need specific qualifications.
What you can earn: Usually between 5% and 10% of their player’s deal, although the best in the business could go even higher.
Perfect for: People who always complain about footballer’s contracts.
Their advice: ‘Talk to my agent’ (Clever footballers)
Our advice: Anyone can become an agent, as long as they pass the right exams. However, there are only around four major employers, and the majority of the rest of the market is populated by small independent agencies or self-employed agents. With this sort of competition, it’s vital to know the market you’re in. Things like average wages for the league you operate in, an in-depth knowledge of bonuses and other add-ons, and budgets for teams looking to strengthen will all be invaluable.
What they do: Help clients reach their personal fitness goals. Typically working one-on-one, and at client’s homes/at the gym/in the open, it’s their job to draw up specific fitness plans, help keep clients motivated and improve their physical condition.
What you need: A degree in Sports Science would help set you apart, but is by no means essential, as you will need specific qualifications before you start out. Discipline, endurance and a motivational personality, however, are non-negotiable.
What you can earn: Typically around £25,000+, depending on company and level of experience
Perfect for: People who like to pump iron.
Their advice: ‘Impossible is nothing’ (Muhammad Ali).
Our advice: If university wasn’t really for you, don’t panic. There are a number of courses out there to help you get up-to-speed, some of which are offered directly by the gyms themselves and even come with a guaranteed job offer as a result.
What they do: Administer treatment to people with injuries or physical difficulties. The work they do in the sports industry is invaluable, primarily helping their patients rehabilitate from and, ultimately, overcome injuries.
What you need: A caring, trustworthy and motivational personality. Helping people get over extremely difficult injuries can be both mentally and emotionally draining, so the ability to build rapport is similarly essential.
What you can earn: Will start around £20,000, but can increase to around £35,000 once fully qualified and experienced.
Perfect for: People with healing hands (but not Achilles heels).
Their advice: ‘A champion isn’t about how much they win. It’s about how they recover from their downs’ (Serena Williams)
Our advice: You will need a degree in Physiotherapy (or a postgraduate award) in order to become a Physiotherapist. However, practical experience can be an essential part of the application process, something which makes voluntary work particularly valuable in this field. Check the NHS page on volunteering, as well as opportunities with any local physiotherapy clinics.
What they do: Break the latest sporting news to the public, whether it’s online, in print, on television or on the radio. They could work covering one sport in particular, and with one publication, be multi-specialist, or even freelance.
What you need: Most employers will require a candidate to hold a journalism degree. However, it is possible to pursue a career in Sports Journalism without – although you will need a natural flair for writing and a dedicated online following or portfolio of work to move up in the industry.
What you can earn: Entry level is around £15,000. Rising to £30,000+ once proven
Perfect for: People who like to talk about sport. A lot.
Their advice: ‘They think it’s all over. It is now…’ (Kenneth Wolstenholme)
Our advice: This industry is highly competitive, and you will need to demonstrate your skills as much as possible. Start blogging about your favourite sport, engage with people on social media, offer to work for free at your local newspaper, radio station or sports club (freelance, in any discipline) and do whatever else it takes to perfect your craft. Use your experience to build a portfolio of your work, and send this with prospective applications.
What they do: Sports Psychologists work with athletes and sports teams to help them cope with the psychological demands of their professions. Whether it’s coming back from a difficult injury, learning how to out-think opponents, or just dealing with the pressure of being in the public eye, good Sports Psychologists know how to get the most out of their clients.
What you need: Aside from a good knowledge of psychological theories and best practices, excellent communication skills are absolutely essential. A Psychology degree, not to mention registration with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC), will also be necessary.
What you can earn: Salaries for Sports Psychologists start around the £20,000 mark, although this figure will reach in excess of £40,000 for more senior positions.
Perfect for: People who don’t just watch sport, they listen to it.
Their advice: ‘Never set limits, go after your dreams, don’t be afraid to push the boundaries.’ (Paula Radcliffe)
Our advice: Aside from a degree, most Sports Psychologists have master’s degrees, and even PhDs. With this amount of commitment involved, it’s vital to know if becoming a Sports Psychologist is really what you want. Use available resources, such as the advice provided by the British Association of Sport and Exercise (BASES) and the British Psychological Society (BPS), not to mention the advice of those already working within the field, to make sure this is the right choice for you.
What they do: Compile and analyse complex data, usually relating to team or individual performance. Statistics are being used more and more in sport, with a view to determining trends and using available data to improve understanding or performance. A good Statistician could literally be a game changer. Just ask Brad Pitt…*
What you need: First and foremost, you will need to have a good head for figures, as well as excellent attention to detail. You will be dealing with lots of intricate data on a daily basis, and one small mistake could completely change the curve. A degree will also be necessary.
What you can earn: £20,000 or so for a junior positon, although this could almost double with experience. Some Statisticians may pursue the profession part-time, to supplement their regular income (Professors, for example).
Perfect for: People who don’t think Sabermetrics is a dirty word.
Their advice: ‘I’m a firm believer that if the other side scores first you have to score twice to win.’ (Howard Wilkinson)
Our advice: If you’re really interested in getting into sports analysis and statistics, you need to immerse yourself in it. Read books by sports statisticians, use existing sources to learn and start extrapolating data and coming up with your own trends. Use what you’ve found to build a portfolio of work, and take that to any potential interview to show what you can do.
Other roles to consider: Coaching, teaching, sports advertising, sports development, sports management (for example, gyms and leisure centres), referee/umpire.
*In Moneyball. Not just in general.
Find a job
Sign up for more Career Advice