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Sports development officers are responsible for generating interest and increasing participation in sports by running initiatives that inspire people to take part.

A keen interest in sport and strong leadership and organisational skills are essential.

What does a sports development officer do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Due to Covid-19, you may find it difficult to kick-start your career as a sports development officer at the moment. As we explain here, however, recruiters will not view time out of work due to the pandemic as a 'gap' in your CV. For guidance on searching for work during this difficult time, take a look at our advice for job hunting during a pandemic.

A sports development officer will plan and organise sports projects and campaigns in order to get more people involved. They work towards making sport more accessible to everyone and aim to get people living a healthier lifestyle. They may specialise in a particular sport or focus on a particular group of people, or have a more general remit.

Typical job responsibilities include:

  • organising, developing and delivering a varied range of sporting activities, projects or programmes
  • finding funding and managing budgets
  • producing promotional material and displays
  • keeping statistical and financial records
  • planning
  • undertaking administrative tasks
  • writing reports and press releases
  • liaising and working with relevant organisations or agencies including youth services, schools, clubs, sports coaches and sports councils
  • organising and undertaking market research
  • monitoring and assessing progress
  • finding and training coaches, volunteers and staff.

The work can be demanding, with long hours and some evening, weekend and public holiday work.

Typical employers of sports development officers

  • Local authorities
  • Sports councils
  • Universities
  • Sports governing bodies and councils.

Vacancies are advertised by careers services, and in relevant publications such as Leisure Management and Leisure Week and their websites. You'll also find opportunities in vacancy lists produced by sports bodies such as the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA).

Qualifications and training required

It could be an advantage to have a degree in sports science, development or management, or another relevant field such as leisure and recreation or physical education. There are also some postgraduate courses available in sports development. However, it is possible to start a career in this area without a degree, HND or postgraduate qualification. 

Coaching qualifications could improve your chances, and you could also take up an apprenticeship in a relevant area and work your way up to a sports development officer role. 

Relevant work experience is essential, and can be gained via seasonal vacation employment, or by working as a volunteer or paid assistant in a leisure or sports centre.

Key skills for sports development officers

  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Communication skills
  • Organisational skills
  • Time management skills
  • Good teamworking skills
  • Adaptability
  • Enthusiasm
  • Energy
  • Confidence.

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In Partnership

This content has been written or sourced by AGCAS, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, and edited by TARGETjobs as part of a content partnership. AGCAS provides impartial information and guidance resources for higher education student career development and graduate employment professionals.

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