Sport, leisure, tourism, and hospitality sector

Want to find out more about a career in sport, leisure, tourism, or hospitality? 

There are a wide range of careers available across sport, leisure, tourism and hospitality.

Whether you want to work in a tourist information centre, a gym, a travel agency or in sports, this sector offers a wide variety of opportunities.

Almost 3000 of our students said they are interested in sport, leisure & tourism

Explore your options

If you are ready to start exploring a career in sport, leisure, tourism and hospitality, have a look below.

Sports coaching

Sports coaches help people participating in sports to work towards achieving their full potential. They may support professional sports people, sports teams, community teams or school groups, working with them closely to improve performance. The role of sports coach can often be voluntary. It may also form part of a full time job role within the industry like a sports development officer.

  • You must gain the relevant coaching qualification offered by the national governing body (NGB). Progression within this profession is only possible with this qualification.
  • The best starting place for trying out coaching is to assist a coach - most coaches will be grateful for any help you can give; to find your nearest club go to the sports coach website and search for county sports partnerships.

Main employers

  • Different types of employer offer different kinds of coaching opportunities: charitable sports trusts and local authorities for community programmes; schools; colleges and universities; sports councils; sport National Governing Bodies (NGBs) - for a list, see Jobs in sport; private sports clubs; hotels; fitness centres; leisure facilities.
  • Coaches may also work one-to-one with professional sports people on a self-employed basis and will need good results to retain clients and maintain job security.
  • The number of vacancies and level of competition for jobs tend to be related to the popularity and participation rates for the sport. Some areas are particularly competitive, with progress dependent on reputation and results. Increasingly, there are opportunities for multi-skilled coaches with coaching certificates in several activities.

Sports journalism

Journalism is a competitive career area and without prior experience you will find it difficult to gain formal work experience on sports desks.

It’s likely that you will have to learn to be a journalist before you can become a sports writer. To help your chances:

  • Develop a portfolio of your work
  • Build up your core journalistic skills
  • Personal branding and your online presence are important - create a LinkedIn profile, follow journalists, organisations and employers on social media and create a blog to showcase your skills and get your name noticed
  • Network in order to find contacts that might help you find work experience
  • Consider gaining a specialist qualification

Sports development officers

Sports development officers are tasked with creating and implementing programmes which encourage sports activity across all areas of society. In this role, you’ll work alongside government authorities and private organisations, such as educational institutions, local councils, healthcare facilities, charities and not-for-profit organisations and community groups, to put a range of appealing, exciting and valuable schemes into action.

  • 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. Building up experience of delivery in one sport is helpful, although a multi-sport approach is often 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.
  • Look at joining any relevant sports clubs or societies at university and aim to take on levels of responsibility within these to give you experience in developing the club.

Main employers

  • 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. Check local authorities’ individual vacancy pages online.
  • 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.

Attend an Employer Insights event

Book an appointment with a Careers Adviser

If you have questions and want to find out more about pursuing a career in sports and tourism, have a chat with one of our Careers Advisers. 

Book an appointment through your Careers Connect account.

Hear from our graduates on their experiences in this job sector

Bradley West

Sports Journalist at Sportsbeat

“I’m a sports nut so getting to work in the industry I am so passionate about makes the day-to-day duties feel far removed from being work.”

Many of our graduates from University of Birmingham have gone on to pursue careers in this job sector.

Read and watch their stories: 

Plan your career

If you are ready to start planning a career in sport and tourism, have a look below.

Work experience

Sports Therapy, Coaching & Performance

Building experience and knowledge across a variety of different sporting disciplines is highly recommended when pursuing work experience so getting involved with sports activities at the university and within your local community outside your own interest can be beneficial. Any type of coaching experience is also valuable and working with a wide range of ages and skills for this can set you apart in applications. You can explore relevant volunteering roles to help you build these skills and experience via Do-It.

Part-time/vacation work at sports clubs and clinics is valuable even if not directly working in a therapy/coaching role, even an administrative role can add to your knowledge and skills, as well as provide you with a network of contacts. Networking and building connections within the industry can often lead to further work opportunities and you can use LinkedIn to keep in touch with professionals you meet.

While advertised work experience opportunities can come up on Jobs In Sport, this can be limited and you will want to reach out to relevant organisations directly to source your own work experience. Some useful directories for finding relevant organisations to approach are ConnectSport and, as well as resources provided by your local councils such as the Birmingham City Council Health and Wellbeing posters.

Leisure and Tourism

There are often vacancies in fitness/leisure centres for part-time and casual staff for a variety of roles, such as administration/sales to lifeguard and fitness activities assistants. These roles can help you learn about the general management of fitness centres but also help you with building useful contacts for the future. Take advantage of any opportunity to show your commitment and passion for the industry by taking on responsibilities outside of your remit and network with any high-profile guests the centre may host.

Hotels are becoming another popular health and wellbeing provider, as they increasingly offer guests on-site fitness facilities. Taking on part-time work in the hospitality industry can help you gain insight into these areas and develop customer care skills which are vital for this industry. Many hotels provide local tourism information themselves or have connections with tourism information centres. Local authorities often undertake significant work to market local attractions and support economic growth through tourism activities as well. Popular vacancy boards for these types of roles include LeisureJobs and LocalGovJobs.

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning has over 13,000 courses to enhance your CV and stand out from the crowd when thinking about a career in sport, leisure, tourism and hospitality.

University of Birmingham students get free access to LinkedIn Learning.

Bursaries and funding 

You may be eligible to apply for work experience bursaries through The University of Birmingham. For more details visit the internship funding pages

Apply for jobs

If you are ready to apply for jobs in sport and tourism, have a look below.  

Search and apply for jobs in the sport, leisure, tourism and hospitality sectors

Application support

When you have a clear sense of where you want to apply, the final step is making the most out of your application. Our Employability Advisers are here to help review your application documents. 


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