The leisure, sport and fitness industries are growing as people continue to become more health conscious, as well as having more leisure time and greater disposable income. An Interest in both following and participating in sport has never been greater. This sector of our economy offers a very wide range of career opportunities. Most have the shared aim of helping people to enjoy their leisure time.
The areas of work include:
leisure centre work, e.g. as a manager, assistant or lifeguard
coaching and instructing, e.g. in health and fitness, horse riding, football clubs, outdoor activities, yoga or a specific sport
professional sport, e.g. as a footballer, horse-racing jockey or golfer
entertainment, e.g. work in cinemas, horse racing, theme parks, betting shops, community workshops and youth clubs
Working conditions vary. Some jobs are based indoors, in hotels, sports shops, gymnasiums, sports halls or cinemas, while others, in areas such as horse riding, instruction in outdoor activities in sports clubs or adventure centres are largely based outdoors. Some jobs call for large amounts of physical training and activity.
Most people working in this sector work irregular hours that can often involve shift, evening, weekend and bank holiday work.
Employers include large leisure companies, tour operators, local authorities, leisure centres, health and fitness clubs and hotels and sports clubs. An ability to communicate well with people and a helpful attitude are important in most of these jobs. Organisational and teamwork skills are often required and sometimes good business skills. A professional sportsperson needs to have an exceptionally high level of skill and be totally dedicated to their sport.
Getting into Sports and Leisure Jobs in these industries have very different entry requirements. Some demand specific qualifications, while others require no formal qualifications. Generally, there is a wide variety of courses that can help prepare for entry to these areas of work, ranging from Post Leaving Cert (PLC) courses for careers in Leisure Centres to Level 8 Honours Degree courses in Sports Science.
Many jobs in this sector offer the opportunity for promotion to supervisory or managerial levels. There are plenty of opportunities to work abroad and in some jobs it is possible to become self-employed.