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Performance sports scientist

Sports scientists use knowledge of how the body works to help people improve their health or sporting ability.

Annual Salary

£20,000 to £60,000

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

Future employment

There will be 2.4% more Performance sports scientist jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

You could work with elite sports professionals, or in research, healthcare or industry. Your day to day tasks will depend on the type of organisation you work for.

You could:

  • help sports coaches and sports therapists to improve individual and team performance
  • work with doctors to help people improve their health through exercise and fitness
  • look at ways that health and fitness can be used to prevent or treat medical conditions like diabetes, heart conditions or cancer
  • take part in research projects
  • offer advice on the design and manufacture of sports equipment

Working environment

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 can get into this job through:

  • a university course

You could take a degree in sport and exercise science. Courses that cover the 3 foundation subjects of biomechanics, physiology and psychology, will keep your job options broad.

Alternatively you could do a degree in a science related subject followed by a postgraduate qualification in sports science.

This may include subjects like:

  • physical education
  • natural sciences
  • physiology
  • psychology

It's becoming more common for sports scientists to have or be working towards a postgraduate qualification.

Some universities will expect you to have studied physical education or a science subject like biology if you are studying A levels.

A BTEC diploma in sport and exercise science, an HND or Foundation degree in a relevant subject may also help you to gain entry to a degree in sports science.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
For more information

More information

Career tips

Experience as fitness instructor, lifeguard, coach or through volunteering, for example with a sports club, may improve your career prospects.

It will help you stand out in a competitive jobs market if you have additional qualifications like:First Aid; gym instructing; safeguarding

Professional and industry bodies

You could join the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) and work towards accreditation. You could also apply for Chartered Scientist status.

Further information

You'll find more advice on careers in sports science from The British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences and Careers in Sport.

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You could find work with universities, schools and colleges, large sporting organisations, public and private enterprises and local authorities. It's also possible to become self-employed or to work as a consultant.

You could also move into a related career area, like sports development or performance testing and research.

You'll find more advice on careers in sports science from The British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

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
  • concentration skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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