fitness-594143_640So you want to start looking for sports jobs. You’re likely wondering where you even start. The sports industry is vast and offers countless opportunities for all kinds of professionals with varying amounts of education and experience. It’s important to ask a lot of questions before you embark on your sports career path.

Once you know for sure that you want to jump into sports, you need to know what field interests you the most and aligns with your strengths. The health and fitness sector in the sports industry is one of the biggest ones to get into. You can find a role with little experience or dive into the medical side of things.

Let’s take a look at how you can start your career path with sports jobs in the health and fitness sector:

Strengths and Skill Sets

Many sports jobs in health and fitness are ideal for leaders and teachers. On the training and coaching side, leaders are set up for success. So where are all the leaders?

Gallup’s State of the American Manager Report found that just 18 percent of current managers have the natural talent required for the role. However, even those who don’t possess natural leadership traits can still partake in leadership coaching and development to build their skill set.

To start your career in health and fitness, you need to find your strengths and build on them. Take charge of your own development by actively making decisions and following through on your plan for professional growth.

You need to look for learning opportunities. Ask mentors or leadership coaches for some insights into your strengths and how you can improve on them. Also, seek out sports fitness internships to learn firsthand.

When you know what makes you unique, you can build that skill, align your career in health and fitness around your strengths, and actively seek roles.

Roles and Opportunities

The possibilities for sports jobs in health and fitness are endless. With so many paths to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide and commit.

Some of the most popular roles require a college education and typically center on science. Let’s take a look at some health and fitness jobs that, according to the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, are projected to grow much faster than the average occupation through 2024:

  • Physical therapy: Help patients recover from injuries and illnesses by creating individualized exercise plans.
    • Education: First, you need a BA in a health-related field, then you can complete a doctorate in physical therapy. From there, you need to fulfill licensing requirements, undergo residency, and obtain board certification.
  • Nutritionists and dietitians: Both fields share similar responsibilities — to counsel patients and advise them on what to eat to achieve health goals.
    • Education: Earn a BA in a field related to clinical nutrition or dietetics. A registered dietitian needs to earn an RD or RDN credential from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). Then, you need to earn your state license. Nutritionists can earn a Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) credential through the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists to show their level of knowledge. Some states accept this credential for licensure purposes.
  • Athletic trainer: Develop rehabilitation programs to help treat and prevent medical conditions. They typically collaborate with physicians and other medical professionals.
    • Education: Choose a degree that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE), and earn a BA. Then, start gaining experience and obtain a certification affiliated with the Board of Certification (BOC). For example, you can earn an ATC certification from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA). With a certification, you can get your license to work. Consider pursuing a master’s degree in a field related to athletic training.

You can also pursue roles with less schooling and similar emphasis on training, like exercise specialists. Strength and conditioning coaches also play a crucial role in the athlete’s world.

When it comes to focusing on a path, you need to ask yourself one thing: How do I want to make a difference in the sports world?

Work Environments

With so many career options, you are also naturally faced with a variety of work environments. Each place offers its own set of advantages and disadvantages, so you need to decide where you want to spend your workday.

Many roles listed above are employed in hospitals. Working in a hospital is often rewarding because you’re making a positive impact on patients’ lives. Typically, workers in hospitals enjoy job security and participate in a team atmosphere. However, you can also expect nontraditional office hours, exposure to germs, and frustration when your patients don’t recover or when you have to work with unruly patients.

Many medical and rehab professionals are looking into opening their own private practices. For example, physical therapists may want to open their own office. While it’s nice to be your own boss and design your own practice and office space, the financial risks are high, and your professional reputation is at risk. You may disagree with a business partner, lose control of your staff, or run into legal troubles.

Trainers can also run their own businesses, but it requires a lot of time and energy between starting up, promoting your business, maintaining your clientele, and continually growing and delivering the results your clients want.

Professional sports teams hire all kinds of health and fitness experts. While this option may require a good deal of traveling, it may fit your lifestyle preference.

Ultimately, how you start your pursuit of a sports jobs in health and fitness is in your hands. Begin by getting to know yourself more — what are you great at? What do you love to study? How much time and energy do you want to commit to your career? Where do you want to work?

Once you have these answers, you can dive into the health and fitness world and hit the ground running.

What sports jobs do you want to pursue in health and fitness?