2023 Sports Careers Index
If you're a sports fanatic with a penchant for marketing and an unrivalled nutrition plan, the path to your dream job could be just a few scrolls away. Runners Need has researched a plethora of sports careers, breaking down key factors including growth potential, salary, and AI integration.
Whether you want to be a professional athlete, have a passion for nutrition, or you are an active person with a knack for marketing - the fitness industry offers a chance for every sports enthusiast a career to fulfill their potential and utilise their skill set while doing what they love.
But considering the rapidly changing economy and jobs market, which jobs in the UK sports and fitness industry are the best paid, have seen the most growth and have the most opportunities in 2023? We compiled a list of the 46 top careers and scraped job sites in locations up and down the country to find out.
The Top Sports Industry Careers Overall
Combining everything from average salary, market growth and job opportunities across all the major cities of the UK, the study can reveal that personal trainers have it best in the industry. Additionally – and despite the rise of virtual training – personal trainers have some of the lowest risk of digital automation in the industry.
Next, the career offering a surprising number of job opportunities and placing joint 2nd in the study overall is football coaches. And although requiring a tremendous amount of drive and talent, the career that ties 2nd (and which has seen demand double in the past year) is that of a professional athlete.
Suting more technically and scientific temperaments, nutritionists and performance sports scientists complete the top five respectively. On the other end of the spectrum, the careers which placed bottom of the study were sailing instructors, sports journalists and horse riding instructors.
Careers With The Largest Market Growth Rate
By analysing search volumes for sports careers over the past year, the average career in the industry has seen just an 8% growth rate. However, this rate varies wildly job to job in the industry.
The career that has seen by far the largest increase in recognition and popularity is nutritionists – which have seen a huge 194% increase over the past year. Next, three careers in the study have doubled in popularity since 2022: sports administrators, performance sports scientists and athletes.
The careers which have seen the largest drop in demand? Group exercise instructors, sports journalists and sports coaches have all seen around a 60% decrease in search demand over the past year.
Best Paid Sports Industry Careers
The average salary in the study was £31,966 – which is in line with the UK average of £31,772. Examining these salaries, 12 of the careers in the study were above the national average
The most lucrative career in the study is sports medicine physician, which fetches up on average an impressive £98,432. Next up, also with huge earning potential is yoga teaching. The average advertised salary for yoga teachers was £56,531 – a whopping 77% above the mean average in the index. Finishing the top three is another technical role, with performance sports scientists expected to earn an appealing £52,500.
Careers where you might need to be more motivated by passion than money? Many of the jobs clocked in at under the average national wage, with the least lucrative careers being lifestyle coordinators, lifeguards and leisure centre assistants, which all fall in the £21,00 - £22,000 mark.
Number Of Job Opportunities
Considering the job advertisements across the country, in total, one type of job came up time and time again: coaches. In fact, coaches and trainers made up four out of five of the top advertised jobs. The most popular of these was an all-round sports coach, followed by football coach in 2nd spot. However, slightly differently, in third place was the role of sports therapist.
There were some regional trends spotted too. Predictably, London has the most job opportunities overall, followed by Manchester, but Birmingham and Southampton finished joint third. In most cities, sports coach is the most advertised position, but there are some exceptions. In Nottingham, the highest demand is for swimming teachers, in Bristol it’s lifeguards and in Liverpool it’s athletes.
Chat GPT, AI Automation And The Evolving Industry
These are the statistics as it stands in 2023, but what about the future job market? Chat GPT and AI are rapidly transforming the job market, and it’s savvy to factor in. Although you might consider careers in the sports industry might be some of the least likely to be affected, there are still some careers where it’s especially advantageous to keep up with technological changes and developments.
Using online research, sports journalists are the most likely to see their jobs rapidly digitalise (with a calculated 47% risk level posed by automation). Next up are sports agents, with a 44% likelihood of digital automation score. Completing the top three is sports facility managers, with a 39% chance of automation.
For many sport lovers it’s hard to imagine how to take the next step and make a career out of a passion – but we hope that this tool helps those wanting to go professional to realise the diverse range of options and opportunities in the current sport careers market.
At the end of 2017, I was at a crossroads. As a professional athlete just starting out, and not totally at the top of my game yet, there are a lot of issues I faced. I made a loss of 400 dollars a year, I was away from my boyfriend and family to train and was spending most of my time working on skills to improve even just an inch. I was broke, I wasn’t improving, and most importantly, I wasn’t happy doing a sport that I used to love. I was told by almost everyone around me that it was time for me to give it up, a decision I didn’t feel comfortable moving forward with.