If you are enthusiastic about sport and have great leadership skills, being a sports development officer would be a great role for you
As a sports development officer you will make sure that people have the chance to take part in sport and ensure that all sections of the community are aware of available activities and where they can go to get involved.
You will distribute information and organise sport-related projects, classes, programmes, coaching, club development and training. You will also need to target those who want to take part for fun, as well as those who are interested in competing at all levels, from local to national and international.
The central aim is to increase participation in sport of all kinds, but you will also address issues of health, crime and social inclusion as well, often working with organisations such as:
You could also work in partnership with government bodies to deliver government sports initiatives.
You will be responsible for:
A specialised post, such as a disability sports development officer, may also involve the following activities:
Salaries vary between specialist areas, regions and types of employers. Set pay structures are in place for local authorities and education, however small governing bodies or initiatives differ in their salaries.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
A willingness to work flexible and unsocial hours, including weekends and school holidays, is essential. Working hours can include evening meetings and occasional absences from home.
This career is open to all graduates and those with an HND, but the following subjects may increase your chances:
Entry without a degree or HND is possible. In this case, coaching qualifications and related work experience are likely to increase your chances.
A postgraduate qualification is not required for entry, although some sports development officers do hold such qualifications. Search for postgraduate courses in sports development.
Employers usually request an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check as part of their conditions of service. In Scotland this is provided by Disclosure Scotland and in Northern Ireland by Access NI.
You will need to show:
Pre-entry work experience in community, sport, school or voluntary organisations is essential. Coaching experience is highly desirable. This can be gained through working or volunteering for local authorities or sport national governing bodies (NGBs) and clubs.
Try to gain as much experience as you can through voluntary or paid work in coaching and organising sports activities or holiday programmes. Building up experience of delivery in one sport is helpful, although a multi-sport approach is ideal.
Competition for jobs can be tough. Networking and making contacts within the sports development sector through work experience will improve your chances of success.
The recent and continued expansion of sports development programmes has led to an increase in sports development managers in a range of settings. Sports development professionals are appointed by a variety of organisations.
Local authorities are the main employer, often having assistant, officer and management roles in generic, community and specialist posts. Many appointments are initially on a contract basis and may be funded partly by external bodies.
Some universities and colleges of higher education employ sports development officers in order to maintain and increase student and community involvement in sport.
Sports councils and national governing bodies (NGBs) are other major recruiters.
Look for job vacancies at:
Many vacancies are advertised through online job sites. Most local authorities, sporting organisations and governing bodies will advertise in the national and regional press but it is worth checking their individual vacancy pages online. Recruitment agencies rarely handle vacancies.
Training may be given on the job but there are also many external training courses you can take that relate to the sports development sector. Search for courses at SkillsActive: Quality Training.
A range of training courses are offered by CIMSPA in areas such as fitness management and health and safety. Continuing professional development (CPD) is also important in the role and CIMSPA provides support to its members in this area. A professional development framework is available, which allows you to record your CPD and identify skills that can be developed.
Workshops are run through Sports Coach UK in relevant areas such as safeguarding issues and mentoring sports coaches.
Knowledge and competence in other areas is becoming increasingly important and you may be interested in taking an additional course in:
Those working within local authorities and higher education can take advantage of any available in-house training.
Sports development officers usually work in one of two fields:
Those in generic posts can follow a route into the management of teams, then departments, or into promoted partnership or sport-specific posts, often within a local authority structure.
Sport-specific officers can progress into management posts or policy and strategy-based jobs, through local authorities, sport national governing bodies (NGBs) or organisations such as Sport England.
Sports development officers may also become sport and leisure contractors or move into the management of health and fitness programmes.
Other areas of career development may include community-related posts within local authorities, regeneration projects, active schools or health education projects.
Once in a large structure, such as a local authority, progression through management can involve taking on a more diverse remit, for example, culture and sport.