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Sport and exercise psychologist

Sport and exercise psychologists work with athletes, teams and coaches to improve their motivation and performance.

Annual Salary

£20,000 to £48,000

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 39 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends; attending events or appointments

3.8%
Future employment

There will be 3.8% more Sport and exercise psychologist jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

As a sport and exercise psychologist, you'll:

  • assess clients' needs to develop fitness plans and recommendations
  • set up activities to improve team and individual performance
  • advise coaches and managers on team communication
  • support athletes in coping with injuries, confidence and motivation
  • teach people psychological techniques to improve their wellbeing and performance

Working environment

You could work at a sports arena, at a fitness centre, at a health centre, in a prison or on a sports field.

Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time.

You can get into this job through a university course.

University

To become a sport and exercise psychologist, you'll need to:

Psychology conversion course

You may be able to do an approved psychology conversion course if:

  • your psychology degree is not accredited by the BPS
  • you have a degree in a subject other than psychology

Postgraduate qualification

To apply for a postgraduate qualification in sport and exercise specialism, you’ll often need:a first or 2:

  • 1 (upper second class) degree
  • excellent research skills
  • relevant work experience

You might want to check the postgraduate entry requirements with the admissions department where you want to study.

You can find out more about all of the different specialisms and postgraduate training from The British Psychological Society (BPS).

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 3 A levels or equivalent
  • a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course
For more information
Volunteering and work experience

It can be helpful to get some volunteering experience in a healthcare or education setting before you apply for a course.

You can also find volunteering opportunities through The National Council for Voluntary Organisations and Do IT.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Professional and industry bodies

You can join The British Psychological Society for professional development opportunities.

Further information

You'll find more details about working in sports and exercise psychology from The British Psychological Society and The British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES).

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You could work for a local health authority, or on a GP exercise referral scheme. You could also assess exercise programmes in workplaces, prisons or psychiatric settings.

With experience and further study you could:become a senior psychologist; work as a consultant; move into lecturing or research

You'll find more details about working in psychology from The British Psychological Society.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • knowledge of psychology
  • customer service skills
  • the ability to understand people’s reactions
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to enjoy working with other people
  • active listening skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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