What you Need to Know
- According to Bournemouth University, employers are increasingly looking for vocational training, with sports management graduates particularly in demand.
- A number of UK universities offer degrees in sports management, requiring three years full-time study.
- Degree courses tend to cover a broad range of subjects, including introductions to sports psychology and anatomy.
- Courses may also include modules on business accounting, marketing and HR; all things that could be useful in a management role.
- Aside from academic qualifications, employers may also look for good communications, people management and organisational skills.
- There are a wide range of career paths open to sports management graduates, as well as non-graduates keen to work in this area.
- Sports centre managers, coaches and council community sports officers are popular career choices among sports management graduates.
Choosing Sports Management as a Career
A wide range of career options are open to sports enthusiasts keen to combine their work with their passion. While there is no one single type of sports management career, for the vast majority of people working in this area, sport plays a central role in their day-to-day working life. As well as being sports enthusiasts themselves, most people going into this career also share a common concern for enriching the lives of people through sports and exercise.
Training and Qualifications
There are no fixed qualifications necessary for enjoying a successful career in the field of sport management. Indeed, while some people work their way up from entry positions – for example, receptionists or gym supervisors – others move into the sports sector from business, finance or customer service backgrounds.
That said, according to Bournemouth University, employers are increasingly looking for evidence of vocational training, with sports management graduates particularly in demand. Bournemouth itself offers a BSc in Sports Management course, as do Cardiff Metropolitan University and the universities of Portsmouth and Northumbria. Additionally, Loughborough University also offers full degree courses in a range of sports-related subjects and has a solid reputation of combining academic excellence with good links with the sporting world.
Degree courses tend to cover a broad range of subjects, including introductions to sports psychology and anatomy, the place of sport in society, business and finance, marketing and law. Additionally, students may be asked to focus on entrepreneurship and encouraged to develop business ideas linked to sports and exercise. All degree courses require three years full-time study or five-to-six years part-time study, with universities also able to organise work placements.
As well as academic qualifications, employers may also look for a range of other skills and abilities, including but not limited to:
- Good numeracy and literacy skills: most management positions will require at least good GCSE grades in English and Maths.
- Experience in a management or supervisory role, preferably one related to sports.
- Good communications, people management and organisational skills.
- A strong interest in sport, exercise and a desire to keep up with the latest developments in these fields.
Possible Career Paths
There are a wide range of career paths open to sports management graduates, as well as non-graduates keen to work in this area, though some may require further, more-specialist training.
- Sports Coaching: Many sports management graduates choose to move into coaching, often in order to remain actively involved in sports rather than going into a role where they will spend as much time behind a desk as they will on a pitch or in a gym. Coaches are employed by schools, private health clubs and local authorities, or you may choose to go freelance. In most cases, however, you will need additional qualifications. For example, to move into football coaching, you’ll need to get trained by the FA, or to get into swimming, you’ll need to take a course accredited by the ASA.
- Fitness Centre Management: Many sports management graduates choose to manage private or public leisure centres. Here, everyday duties are likely to be varied and many, ranging from ensuring health and safety compliance, recruiting and training staff, overseeing courses and classes, controlling the finances and attracting new members. As well as a sports management degree, you will also be expected to have experience in the fields of business management and finances in order to move into this field.
- Sports Development Officer: Sports development officers are employed by local councils to encourage community participation in sports and get people exercising. The work can include aspects of marketing, recruitment and training of staff and even hands-on coaching, though while coaching often tends to be seasonal, development officers are usually employed on a permanent basis.
- PE Teacher: After a first degree in sport management, many graduates opt to train as teachers, with PE a subject suited to their skills. As well as taking a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), you will also be required to offer a subsidiary subject, even if you don’t end up teaching this.
Pay and Benefits
Depending on the position, pay for sport management professionals can vary significantly. For instance, if you move into coaching, you may earn around £10 to £15 an hour, with the work often seasonal. In comparison, managers of large health clubs can earn £30,000 and above.
Apart from the pay, many people go into sports management in order to make a living from their passion for sports. In most cases, sports management professionals are able to stay active, with only a small portion of the working week spent behind a desk, and work alongside like-minded individuals.
The University of Portsmouth provides a good oversight of the opportunities open to sports management graduates. Check that out here: http://www.port.ac.uk/courses/sports-science/msc-sports-management/.