What Can You Do with a Sports Science Degree?
Sport Science graduates are extremely versatile and able to build careers in a wide range of industries. Sport Science degrees combine the study of a range of scientific branches, including nutrition, physiology and psychology, with the study of exercise performance to enable students to have significant insight into the scientific principles which affect sport performance. This is often combined with modules focussing on business and management studies, which develop skills that are advantageous in the job market.
The most common paths for sport science graduates are:
Some of these fields will be directly related to the knowledge gained from a sport science degree, whereas others will require further training, or utilize the skills developed during the degree. We have broken down each of these fields, looking at the kind of jobs available in each sector and the skills required.
Around a third of sports science graduates go on to work in the sports industry. This is a field that will make significant use of the insight into exercise performance gained through a sport science degree. Working at a high level in this industry is extremely competitive – especially as there is consistent pressure on athletes to break established world records, and they need all the insight they can gain.
Job roles: Personal trainer, professional coach, sports nutritionist, fitness instructor
Requirements: leadership, communication, ability to inspire, high fitness level, working with people
Positives: This kind of work is often highly flexible, with opportunities to be self-employed or teach/coach in a range of venues. There is a lot of opportunity to specialise in what interests you – whether that is a particular sport or working with particular kinds of people
Drawbacks: Demand can vary and the work is sometimes unreliable. It can be very physically demanding, and you will probably need to work non-standard hours.
Management, particularly sports management, is also a very popular career for sport science graduates. The management and business modules required by most courses provide graduates with an insight into finance, business strategy and management which is invaluable in a management role, whether it is in a sports club or organisation or in a totally different industry.
Job roles: Event manager, outdoor activities manager, sports centre management, project manager
Requirements: Analytical skills, communication, data handling, numeracy, problem solving, time management
Positives: Honing these skills will make you highly employable in a range of industries. Management offers great opportunities for career advancement and salary increases. This career involves a high level of responsibility and challenging work that is varied and draws on a wide range of skills.
Drawbacks: Depending on which industry you work in, you might not have much chance to utilize the knowledge you developed during your sport science degree. This career can be high pressure and involve making tough decisions.
Sports science graduates also have the opportunity to work in education. In order to become a qualified teacher in the UK you need to complete a post graduate teaching qualification, typically a PGCE. We have chosen to separate education and further studies because this is typically a vocational qualification with a heavy emphasis on learning to teach, rather than studying. Depending on the A Levels you studied and the academic element of your course, you might be qualified to teach science or maths, as well as PE, though you might have to complete a Subject Knowledge Enhancement course prior.
Job roles: Primary Teacher, Secondary Teacher, Leadership, Lecturer
Requirements: Numeracy and literacy skills, communication, interest in working with young people, problem solving skills
Positives: Teachers make a big difference to the lives of young people. Education also has good opportunities for advancement and salary increases. It is varied and challenging, and has good holidays!
Drawbacks: The role can be challenging and you need to be able to manage pupil behaviour. The long holidays are a benefit, but it means that you don’t have any flexibility with your time off. The role also requires additional work outside of school hours – including planning, marking and parents’ evenings.
This might sound like a very generic path, but the truth of the matter is that many graduate roles in big international companies only require a degree – they don’t specify what subject the degree needs to be in. This is because they invest in recruits and provide significant on the job training. This enables you to utilize a sport science degree as a springboard into a huge range of industries, including financial services, HR, banking, IT and management consultancy.
Job roles: Various
Requirements: All of the skills you have developed during your degree including problem solving, numeracy, analytical thinking, communication and leadership.
Positives: Working for a large company can come with benefits such as car schemes, a great pension and excellent salary progression. They are also a great name to have on your CV, which may open up doors in the future. There are a huge range of opportunities, which allows you the chance to find something that interests you.
Drawbacks: Job security is variable between companies – if there is a financial challenge, graduate recruits are sometimes the first people who are let go. Recruitment is highly competitive and your pay is likely to be linked to your performance, so it can be a very pressured environment.
There are a large number of careers related to sports science that require an additional qualification. Typically, these will build on the knowledge developed during a sport science degree and may also provide professional certification. If you’re looking to specialise and work in a field such as therapy or psychology you will usually require a second degree or post graduate qualification. This path will definitely build on everything you have learned during your degree, and allow you to access highly paid professional careers.
Job roles: Physiotherapist, psychologist, journalist, solicitor
Requirements: Commitment to further study, written and oral communication, good grades, self-motivation
Positives: Further study could allow you to deepen your knowledge of particular areas of sport science and continue to develop key employability skills. There are a huge range of options for further study, including new fields such as law and journalism. A post graduate degree may also result in a higher starting wage and greater opportunities for career development.
Drawbacks: At the end of a degree many graduates are ready to enter the workplace and aren’t keen to commit to further study. Depending on the course you choose, you could be in education for a further 4 years or more. It can also be challenging to fund further study, depending on the course you choose.
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