How to turn a love of sport into a full-time career

The future is looking bright for students who want to turn their passion for sport into a career.

Many sport-related industries from personal trainers and coaches to sports management are set to grow, according to The Department of Jobs and Small Business’s Job Outlook.

And that’s good news for sports mad students, with many different career options from being an athlete to administration, physiotherapy and exercise sports science.

“It’s really broad and in recent years it has diverged even further into things like nutrition and dietetics,” said Good Education Media Content Coordinator Patrick Evans, Editor of The Good Careers Guide and other career resources published by Good Education Media.

He said students could develop relevant skills while at school.

“Teamwork is a big one,” Mr Evans said.

“If you play team sport competitively when you are at high school or at a club level, someone can look at your CV, resume or university application and see that you actually have experience working in a team.

A career in sport can mean playing, teaching or managing others

“Leadership is another one. If you have been a captain or held a leadership position in that kind of environment, that also shows up well.”

He said communications skills were essential, particularly for coaching, administration and one-on-one support roles.

“With coaching, you could start with something as simple as volunteering to coach a junior team at a local level, a kids’ side, and then work your way up to getting your coaching accreditation,” Mr Evans said.

“For anyone who is interested in studying sport, but isn’t sure which course, or they didn’t get the score for a particular course, the leisure industry can be a lateral step.”

Job Outlook and The Good Careers Guide provides an optimistic view of employment in the sports arena, but anecdotally some people struggle to find a job.

Mr Evans said it was common for graduates of sports management, for example, to get an education degree and become a physical education teacher.

“People choose a course and they don’t think ahead to the practical side of being employed afterwards. It’s worth doing that research initially,” he said.

Kyneton’s Ainslie Kemp, who plays for Melbourne in the AFLW, juggles her study and playing commitments.

AFLW player Ainslie Kemp, 21, studied VCE Health and Human Development, Physical Education and Psychology at Sacred Heart College Kyneton, with a sports-related degree in mind, but her heart was set on playing professional footy.

Her dream job came around sooner than anticipated when the AFL announced the women’s competition would start in 2017 rather than 2020.

Since being drafted by Melbourne, she has juggled university, work and footy.

She’s halfway through a double degree: a Bachelor of Sports Science and Human Movement and a Bachelor of Psychological Studies at Victoria University.

“For the first year of uni and footy I was living in Kynton and it was too much having to catch the V-line for an hour and 15 minutes, then going to uni all day and having to train and getting home at 11 o’clock at night,” she said.

But living in the city means finding employment that fits around training and university.

“For five months of the year playing footy you get paid, so you have a comfortable five months,” Ms Kemp said.

“Then, because you’re a student and an athlete, when you’re going for a job they see you’re committed to those things and think you’ll be a nightmare to deal with in terms of shift work.”

Fortunately, a sympathetic boss has allowed her to fit in her part-time administration work around her schedule.

“Living out of home you can apply for grants and Youth Allowance; they really help you out. You can also get scholarships from the unis if you need to, you just need to be aware of it.”

Ms Kemp, who had surgery for a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee in January, plans to be back playing for Melbourne next year.

Ainslie Kemp and Melissa Hickey at training for Melbourne.

She would like to work one day for the AFL.

“When I retire from footy I’d like to work with female athletes because I have that knowledge of being a player, especially the young players adapting to their training loads and moving to the city,” she said.

AIS Deputy Director of Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement Matti Clements said elite athletes, who are often teenagers and young adults, had to think about a career beyond their sporting life.

“Regardless of what level you are at, there’s value in having things going on outside of sport, including personal and professional development, career and education and engagement in the community,” she said.

Ms Clements said online learning had greatly assisted AIS athletes, and universities across the country had staff to support them, especially for such issues as relocation and exams clashing with competitions.

Career choices for elite athletes go way beyond coaching, media and public speaking.

“We have athletes who are part of the national rowing team who are completing medical degrees; they’ve been to a couple of Olympic Games. We’ve got athletes completing law degrees and athletes doing community engagement places, all around the demands of elite training.”

A love of sport can lead to a career in coaching, tourism or education.

Victoria University lecturer David Marsden said students who love sport can find employment in the growing outdoor education, recreation and adventure tourism sectors.

The course convener for the Bachelor of Outdoor Education and Environmental Science and the Bachelor of Outdoor Leadership, Mr Marsden said students in the outdoor leadership program could also take advantage of the paid internship program.

For those interested in AFL, Victoria University has a strong partnership with the Western Bulldogs.

“Through our career development program VU’s Sport and Exercise Science students have opportunities to engage with the Western Bulldogs and with the AFL,” Mr Marsden said.

Exercise science is another growth industry.

“The leisure and fitness industry is now employing exercise scientists. That area is becoming more professional and scientific and they are employed to design training programs within the general public.”

He said working in sport recreation and the outdoors had become a valid career pathway.

“I think these sectors give you the opportunity to take something you’ve become very passionate about in your teenage years and really carry that through.”

For more information about careers within the sport, leisure and outdoor recreation, visit


This article originally appeared in the Herald Sun – How to turn a love of sport into a full-time career

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