Sports development officers (SDOs) aims are improve access to sport and physical activity for people of all ages and abilities, develop communities through the use of sport and physical activity and address wider social inclusion agendas. The work is challenging and varied and may include [inter alia] the development of performance sport, community sport and physical activity and /or participation for particular target groups or any combination of the above. They organise projects, programmes, information and training to encourage people to increase their activity and have a healthier lifestyle and or community participation.
What may I be doing?
As a sports development officer you could be involved in:
- working with local communities to identify the need and demand for new activities
- improving access to sport for young people, people with disabilities and people from disadvantaged communities
- supporting the work of School sport partnerships
- supporting Community amateur sports clubs (CSAC's)
- organising NGB qualification courses
- organising sport and physical activity events
- supporting initiatives to reduce crime and rehabilitate offenders.
Your day-to-day tasks would include:
- making sure resources are used and all available funding is accessed
- putting local and national policies into practice
- identifying opportunities for funding
- organising, promoting and running projects and activities
- monitoring and evaluating projects
- attending meetings, seminars and conferences
- finding and training suitable staff, coaches and volunteers for projects
- managing resources and budgets.
You could also sometimes coach or supervise the sports for which you are qualified and general activity leadership.
You could promote sport in general, working for a County Sports Partnership or local authority, or concentrate on a specific sport, working for a national governing body (NGB) as a sports specific development officer (SSDO).
Salaries can be between £19,000 and £27,000 a year.
For senior positions earnings can range from £26,000 to over £30,000.
Personal skills you may need;
- enthusiasm about the benefits of sports and healthy living
- excellent communication skills
- leadership and organisational skills
- self motivation and the ability to motivate others
- project management skills
- flexibility and adaptability
- good IT and administrative skills.
What qualifications / skills are employers looking for?
80% of sports development officers have a degree or equivalent, often in subjects such as sports development, sports coaching, sports science or recreation/leisure management. However, this may not be essential if you are able to show that you have relevant experience.
Whether you have a degree or not, it is important to be able to demonstrate practical commitment, so you should gain as much experience as possible by getting involved (perhaps as a volunteer) in activities such as:
- Sports organisations
- Coaching [performance or recreational]
- Youth work
- Work with marginalised communities - disability, aged, BME, etc.
- community and holiday sports schemes.
You may also be able to get unpaid work experience with local sports development officers.
It would be useful if you have a background in coaching – sports development officers are often qualified to coach a number of different sports or activities.
What opportunities are out there?
You could be employed by organisations such as local authorities, youth organisations, NGBs, Sports Councils and universities.
Some jobs may only be funded for a limited time, which would mean you would have a short fixed-term contract.
With experience you could progress to a senior position.
More information and links......
Abbey Business Centre
1650 Arlington Business Park
Tel: 0844 418 0077
77-91 New Oxford Street
Advice line: 08000 933300
You can also visit our Jobs listings service.
What about experience - I am a student?
Most jobs ask for some experience in the industry...... but you will be surprised what experience you have gained. Most courses have placements, vocational experience or some-other "outside College" modules; many of you will also have been part of, or worked in, sports development related organisations..... the short message is that this all counts!. If your final year [or other] projects studied organisations, projects or Sports development related issues.... these also count as experience. Your Governing body qualifications, past sporting experiences, work with young people or others.... also counts....... you will be surprised how much experience you already have!
- When completing an application form always ensure that you clearly indicate where you meet the "essential" requirements as indicated in the person specification information that will be part of your application pack.
- There will be a part of the application form that will invite you to offer "additional information to support your application"; always provide this information but make sure it is relevant.... they are not asking for an emotional "I love sport" life history.
- Always, always, always..... ask advice from a lecturer, careers advisor or someone in the industry about your application before you send it off.
- If you get an interview, which may include a presentation, practice both. If you can you should seek further help from your teaching staff or any more experienced colleagues.
To see more opportunities and advice about careers please visit the Government's careers advice service or your own careers advice service. If you are a University student a chat with your lecturers is a good idea too.