Accessibility options | A A A | text only

Sport and Active Leisure


Sport and Leisure_Jobs.jpg

Leisure Centre work

Centres vary in size from those containing simply a small sports hall to those with a wide range of facilities, such as swimming pools, an athletics track and restaurants. Some centres are run by local authorities and charitable trusts; others by private companies, often on contract with local authorities

Leisure Centre Assistants

Leisure centre assistants look after people who visit and use leisure centres. They take payments and bookings, give information about events, facilities and activities clean, move equipment and demonstrate it. Safety is a key part of their job so they need to maintain equipment, make sure that users are following safety guidelines and supervise areas such as pool areas and gyms.  If there are any problems they may also need to give first aid and perform emergency procedures.

Leisure Centre Managers

Leisure centre managers run the leisure centre and its staff - encouraging people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to use the facilities, and making sure they have a safe and enjoyable experience.  They also have a responsibility for income generation and to make sure that their budget is used well to attract usage from their local community.


Lifeguards mainly work at indoor and outdoor pools - which are often part of leisure centres but also as part of hotels and holiday villages. Lifeguards also work on the beach at some seaside resorts. Pool lifeguards have a responsibility for the safe use of the pool by all users to prevent accidents and intervene if any behaviour is unsafe.  They may need to give first aid and also carry out rescues from the water. Their work also includes cleaning around the pools, showers and changing rooms and testing the water quality, chemical levels and temperature.

Health and Fitness Instructor

Health and fitness instructors teach people how to exercise safely and effectively. They may run inductions, write training programmes, monitor individual progress, offer advice and teach classes as well as one to one training. They may work in one or several places - not only in leisure centres but also in private gyms and health clubs as well as community halls. They may also need to keep exercise clean and tidy and perform health and safety checks.

Outdoor Activities

These may take place from an activity centre or linked in with other organisations such as leisure centres, youth centres and holiday resorts. Many instructors are freelance, either working for centres on contract, or directly with clients such as youth groups and companies who want to train their staff.

Outdoor Activities Instructors

Outdoor activities instructors safely lead groups of people - doing a range of outdoor activities such as climbing, camping, canoeing, archery, windsurfing, sailing, or mountain biking. They plan, prepare and instruct in activities to suit the needs, abilities and experience of each group to help them to have fun, develop new skills and learn more about themselves. Courses can vary in length from a single day to a four-week expedition. Centres sometimes specialise in particular activities, but instructors are usually qualified in a range of activities.

Professional Sport

If you want to play sport as a paid professional you'll need to have exceptional talent, determination and commitment. Lots of people play sport to a high level but only a few make a living from it - most people in sport are regarded as amateurs or semi-professional.

Sports where it may possible to be a professional include team sports such as football, rugby, cricket, basketball, hockey and ice hockey and individual sports such as track and field athletics, gymnastics, tennis, boxing, cycling, motorcycling and motor racing, swimming, horseracing and other equestrian sports, golf and snooker.

Sport and Exercise Scientist

Sport and exercise scientists work with people to improve their heath and/or sporting performance. Sport scientists work with coaches and physiotherapists to support athletes or sports clubs, offering expert scientific backup.  Exercise scientists are more concerned with improving health and helping people recover from illness through a programme of physical activity. They work closely with GPs and primary care trusts covering areas such as cardiology and respiratory problems. They may also run clinics and services in local leisure centres.

Sports Coach

Sports coaches may work with sports professionals or amateurs, individuals or teams motivating them and helping them to develop their skills and fulfil their potential. They use their knowledge and experience to plan and deliver structured training sessions. Coaches also spend time helping athletes prepare both mentally and physically before competitions. If coaching a team, they need to be able to mould individuals into an effective team.

Sports Development Officer

Sports development officers (SDOs) are employed to make sure that people of all ages and ability have the opportunity and are encouraged to take part in sport, developing their skills, and leading a healthy lifestyle. They work with the local community, liaising with clubs and schools, as well as agencies such as the police and sports national governing bodies (NGBs). Officers also organise volunteers and help local groups to gain funding and grants. They also need to spend time organising and promoting events, employing coaches and volunteers, checking venues and supervising activities.

Want to know more?

The information in this jobs section is a summary of what's involved in each of the jobs and only a few jobs are highlighted to give a snapshot of this sector.

You can also use the Next Step website to find out about 100s of jobs and careers, including the ones listed above and many, many more.