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Sports Scientist

Jul 2023
Career of the Month
athlete running on a treadmill linked to machines for health testing

Key Facts

Starter Salary
Experienced Salary
Working Hours
37-39 hours a week


Sports and exercise scientists apply scientific principles to the promotion, maintenance and improvement of sporting performance and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Many work as coaches and trainers for a range of sports, carrying out tests on their clients and developing fitness training programmes based on the results. These are designed to help them improve their performance.

Another area where sports scientists can be found is in health care; for example working with people who have had heart attacks or in health education and promotion, demonstrating that physical activity can improve health generally. Other opportunities include working on the design and development of equipment, or in sales or education. People who do this work are organised, good at problem-solving and are team players.

What it takes

What it takes:

Skills and knowledge you'll need

  • knowledge of biology
  • knowledge of psychology
  • the ability to work well with others
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to enjoy working with other people
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • excellent written communication skills
  • the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

Day to day

Day to day:

Your job could involve

  • working with sports coaches and sports therapists to improve the performance of individuals and teams
  • working with doctors to help people improve their health through exercise
  • working with hospitals and other health organisations in areas such as cardiac rehabilitation
  • taking part in research projects
  • offering advice on the design and manufacture of sports equipment

You could work in an NHS or private hospital, on a sports field, at a research facility, in an office, at a client's business or at a fitness centre.

Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time.

You will need

  • A GCSE (4+/A*-C) (or equivalent) in English
  • A GCSE (4+/A*-C) (or equivalent) in maths
  • A GCSE (4+/A*-C) (or equivalent) in biology or chemistry (or double science)
  • A recognised degree in sport and exercise sciences

You may need

  • An A-level (or equivalent) in biology, chemistry or P.E.
  • An A-level (or equivalent) in P.E. / sports science

Academic and Vocational Notes

This is a graduate entry career - many continue with postgraduate courses in order to specialise or to increase employment chances. When researching courses, always check specific entry requirements with individual providers and look for recommended courses; those that cover the three foundation subjects of biomechanics, physiology and psychology will help keep your future job options more open.

This is a very popular career area and demonstration of your interest may be asked for when you apply for university and jobs.

Work Based Training Notes

After graduating, it is possible to apply for accreditation with the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES), which requires a successful completion of their supervised experience process. BASES also endorses a range of higher education courses.

Other Routes

Whilst these are the usual routes to this career, there can be alternatives. You will be able to discuss these with your adviser.

To learn more about getting into a career in Sports Science, take a look at our article - Career Focus of the Month: Sport & Exercise Scientist

Some data provided by NCS. May contain public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

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