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Wellbeing

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 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 39 a week

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

6%
Future employment

There will be 6% more Sport and exercise psychologist jobs in 2025.
In your local area

Day to day tasks

As a sport and exercise psychologist, you'll:

  • help athletes develop strategies to deal with nerves, anxiety, self-confidence, concentration and motivation
  • set up activities to improve team and individual performance
  • support athletes in coping with injuries
  • give advice to coaches on team communication
  • assess clients' needs and develop fitness plans and recommendations
  • work with health promotion staff to show the therapeutic and health benefits of exercise
  • create exercise programmes in organisations, workplaces, prisons and psychiatric units
  • teach mental skills to individuals 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

You'll need to complete:

You may be able to study for an approved postgraduate conversion course, if you're a graduate in a subject other than psychology, or your psychology degree is not accredited by the BPS.

Competition for postgraduate training is strong. You'll need an upper second class or first class degree, and evidence of excellent research skills to apply. You'll also need relevant work experience.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

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

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 psychology from The British Psychological Society.

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You could work as a full-time sport psychologist or you could combine consultancy work with teaching and research.

As an exercise psychologist, 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 or head of a psychology department. You could also move into lecturing.

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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