Careers in sport
The opportunities for employment within sport are diverse and cover many different fields, including coaching and officiating, management, marketing and sports science.
If you have a keen interest in sport there is a great chance there is something to suit your skills, interests and abilities. Employment options include casual, part-time or full-time. There is also the option of volunteering, which is a great way to gain extra experience and knowledge. Volunteering can take place anywhere, from grass-roots sport to sitting on a committee or board.
Being multi-skilled is also beneficial when working in the sport industry. It is an extremely dynamic business environment and competition for jobs can be tough. Relevant qualifications and volunteer experience in sports organisations is a definite advantage.
The sports industry focuses on formal, organised competition, run by various sports codes and governing organisations. These days it’s big business. Sports sponsorship alone was estimated to be worth in excess of $1 billion in Australia in 2004.
While sport is one source of physical activity for many Western Australians, participating in recreation activities is also popular. Recreation focuses on the non-competitive side of physical activity, health and wellbeing. Recreation is also covered in this publication.
For more information on careers and to view a range of career profiles visit FutureNow.
Project Manager - Sport and Recreation
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Areas within the sport industry
To make this guide easier to follow, the industry has been split into four main areas:
Sport science and medical support
This area focuses on assisting athletes with technique, injury rehabilitation, strength and conditioning, nutrition and other areas affecting physical and mental performance.
Sport nutrition is the science of balancing nutrition needs to maximise performance. A Sport Nutritionist advises athletes on dietary requirements for sport, which will vary according to the discipline and an athlete’s requirements.
The term “Exercise Physiologist” (EP) describes an exercise specialist who designs and delivers exercise programs. They specialise in exercise for rehabilitation, exercise for health and wellbeing, chronic and complex medical conditions, musculoskeletal rehabilitation, work conditioning and improvements in sports performance.
Exercise Scientists assist sportspeople to achieve the best possible sporting performance, by applying knowledge and techniques from the areas of medicine, physiology, biomechanics (the study of human movement), motor control and development, nutrition, psychology and physiotherapy/massage.
Sport psychology is the study of the psychological and mental aspects associated with playing sport. Sport Psychologists often work with elite athletes to enable the athlete to maintain motivation and to balance their on-field career with personal aspects of their life.
Physiotherapists are trained to assess the underlying causes of joint, muscle and nerve injuries and provide effective treatment in order to assist athletes and the general public in injury recovery and prevention.
Sport management and administration
Most sporting organisations are also businesses, therefore they require people who not only have a good understanding of the sport but also have sound knowledge in various aspects of business administration including management, marketing, human resources and finance. It is quite common these days for Sports Administrators to cross over to other sporting codes, as the principles behind governing organisations are similar.
Sport Managers design and develop organisational structures and management systems so that there is control over investment and sponsorships. They are also responsible for policy development, strategic management and leading a team.
An Administrator is involved with the operational aspect of an organisation and works across many different areas including day to day operations and financial and stakeholder relations.
Sport Event Manager
Event Managers are responsible for overseeing all aspects of an event, including sponsorship and marketing, staffing, budgeting, timing and logistics. The nature of event management is extremely fast paced, with managers required to perform under strict deadlines and often outside normal work hours.
Sport Marketing Manager
This role involves planning and directing the sales and marketing activities of a sport or recreation organisation. Tasks may include setting sales and marketing policy, planning sales and marketing operations including market research, advertising, promotion, distribution, pricing and selling and recruiting, training and managing marketing/sales staff.
Sport Stadium/Facility Manager
A Facility Manager can be responsible for managing all aspects of a facility. These managers may operate at a strategic level, making very high level decisions and contributing to strategic planning. They may also be responsible for operational level management, dealing with more technical issues such as repairs, maintenance, security and cleaning.
Sport Marketing Officer
A Marketing Officer applies formal marketing principles to the promotion and advertising of sports organisations, products, services and individuals. Types of employment include sports management firms, clubs, national and international leagues and governing bodies, community organisations and government.
Sport Public Relations Manager
The PR Manager works to promote an organisation, including its players and the programs it undertakes (for example, community work). Tasks can include stakeholder management, event organisation, production of web sites and printed material, and media relations.
Human Resources Officer (HR)
A HR Officer handles all aspects of staffing within an organisation, including recruitment, pay awards and inductions.
Human Resources Manager (HR)
A HR Manager is involved in development and implementation of HR policies, managing employee relations, developing the leadership team and rolling out a range of projects.
Agents work to market an athlete or products that are related to that athlete to promote the athlete’s career within his or her given sport. This means that the Agent is responsible for meeting with Team Owners, Managers, Coaches and other individuals to promote the athlete.
Player Development Manager
A Player Development Manager works with athletes to develop areas of their professional and personal lives, on and off the field. Their role requires them to coordinate development programs and technical clinics, and to also work with athletes to identify future pathways for them once their sporting career ends.
Club/Organisation CEO Governing Body CEO
The Chief Executive Officer has an overall governing role, and is usually concerned with the future strategic direction of the organisation, rather than the operational aspect.
Sport development careers involve working with sporting clubs or associations to become more sustainable and viable. Roles are diverse and can vary from the development of strategies and programs with a view to increasing and maintaining participation and improving standards of performance, to areas which include athlete development, coaching and officiating and general administration support for organisations.
Administration Officers handle the daily front-end administration of the organisation. Duties include record keeping systems, customer service, data entry, inventory control, report writing and staffing issues.
Organisational Development Officer
An Organisational Development Officer works to assist an organisation in becoming sustainable. Through the implementation of policy and strategies, the Development Officer aims to create an effective governance structure and systems.
Sport Development Officer
Development Officers devise and coordinate the delivery of sport and recreation programs, services and initiatives. They are responsible for providing organisational support to schools or clubs.
Sport Development Manager
This role involves managing the finances of programs and special projects, leading and managing a variety of initiatives designed to increase participation and leading/managing a team.
Umpires are responsible for overseeing the rules of a competition. While umpiring and officiating is generally not a viable career option, it can be a great way to get some part-time experience and employment.
Sport-related careers cover a wide range of professions that in some way support the sports industry. Examples include sports retail companies, manufacturers and designers of sports equipment, sports media and journalism, motor racing services and many more.
A Sports Official oversees sports events to make sure that the rules of the game are followed. While an Umpire is responsible for ensuring rules are followed on the field, the Official is responsible for ensuring that all other rules applicable to the event are adhered to.
Sport Coaches are responsible for player development, team-building, on-field strategies and team selection. Strong interpersonal and communication skills are essential in order to be effective as a Coach.
Sport Retail Assistant
Working as a Sport Retail Assistant is an excellent way to begin work in the sports industry, as jobs are often part-time or casual and can be balanced with full-time study. There is also the potential to move into supervisor and management roles.
Sport Retail Manager
A Sport Retail Manager is responsible for overseeing the operations of a retail organisation, including finances, human resources, marketing, and floor planning.
Photographers generally work in a freelance capacity and earn income by selling their photos to magazines, newspapers and online sites. However, it is also possible to be employed directly by a company, or to work on a commission basis.
Sports Journalists can work in a freelance or direct employment capacity and provide reports on sporting events that are printed in magazines, newspapers and online sites. They also work in radio and TV; many as producers or researchers.
A Sports Presenter is employed by TV stations to provide pre-game and post-game rundowns on competitors, teams and overall competition. Employment in this capacity is hard to obtain. Being a former champion may provide an advantage.
A Sports Commentator provides a running commentary of a sporting event as the action occurs, either on TV or radio.
Sport career pathways
|Career type||Certificate II/III||Certificate IV||Bachelor degree||5-10 years experience or post graduate level|
|Sports science and medical support||
Group Fitness Instructor
Assistant Strength and
Head Conditioning Coach
Head Team Physiotherapist
|Sport administration and management||
Facility Operations Employee
Event Operations Supervisor
Human Resources Officer
Human Resources Manager
Manager Governing Body CEO
Junior/Trainee Development Officer
Talent Identification Officer
Organisational Development Officer
Sport Development Officer
Senior Sport Consultant
Organisational Development Manager
Sport Development Manager
Sport Policy Director
Retail Brand/Marketng Officer
Retail Brand/Marketing Manager
Sport Trainee Journalist
Sport and recreation sector career paths and tertiary courses
The career pathways in the sport and recreation sector and the tertiary courses available are outlined in this download.