Job profile

Sports Development Officer

Sports Development Officer Job Profile

What is a Sports Development Officer?

Sports development is a rewarding vocation for people passionate about developing and promoting sports-related initiatives within organisations and communities.

As a sports development officer, you will organise and evaluate sporting events, such as competitions and tournaments, actively promote participation, and potentially be a part of tailoring sports initiatives around the needs of a target population to encourage inclusion, skill development and physical activity. 

Sports development officers can hold positions in various organisations, including educational institutions, local authorities, charities, and national governing bodies, to align broader community goals with sports initiatives. You will be working with members of the community who want to take up a sport for fun and people interested in competing at regional, national and international levels.


As a Sports Development Officer, you’ll need to: 

  • Coordinate sports events, competitions, and tournaments 
  • Create marketing campaigns for sports events 
  • Secure venues for sports events 
  • Encourage sports participation through outreach programmes 
  • Collaborate with community organisations, schools, and clubs 
  • Organise recreational leagues, coaching clinics, and training sessions 
  • Support clubs and organisations by providing guidance 
  • Oversee governance issues, volunteer recruitment, and facility management 
  • Establish new sports clubs and institutions 
  • Secure funding for sports events 
  • Monitor and evaluate the impact of existing sports programmes 
  • Collect data on satisfaction levels and participation 
  • Enhance the knowledge and skills of coaches, volunteers and officials 
  • Hold sports governance, coaching techniques, nutrition, and injury prevention workshops. 


  • There is substantial variation in starting salaries for sports development officers, depending on the sector, location, and type of organisation or institution. If you are starting as an assistant sports development officer, the average maximum salary is £23,000 per annum.
  • The typical starting salary is £18,000, which rises to £30,000 with experience in the field.
  • Once you have learnt the sports development ropes and can be hired as a sports development manager, expect a salary of up to £40,000. 

There are many specialist areas within sports development, so salaries can vary greatly. Local authorities set their pay structures, and initiatives also tend to differ in pay rates depending on size and funding. Some roles may subsidise car travel or cover other travelling expenses. 

Income data from the National Careers Service. 

Figures are intended as a guide only. 

Working Hours

As a sports development officer, it is unlikely you will be clocking in and out on a regular 9 – 5 schedule; willingness to work unsocial and flexible hours is crucial. For many employed in sports development, being available for work during school holidays and weekends is vital. Similarly, sports development officers should expect to fill their work schedule with absences from home and evening meetings and workshops.

What to Expect

  • Depending on which position you fill, you could spend the majority of your time carrying out administrative tasks indoors; or you could be working outdoors for extended periods in all weathers.
  • Job insecurity isn’t uncommon due to the prevalence of temporary contracts in the profession. 
  • Positions can be stressful if they involve budget management, bid writing, and accountability over entire events, which could involve securing a venue, event management and organising employees and volunteers. 
  • Unless you are attending a formal meeting, the dress code is typically informal. You may also be asked to wear a sports kit to represent an organisation or club.
  • It is unlikely that you will need to travel internationally for work, but travelling locally to meet community groups and attend events is common. 
  • Playing history within the sport is often a prerequisite for sport-specific positions, and participation in sports is encouraged in most roles.


Candidates who hold a degree or HND in the following subjects will have a competitive edge when applying for positions:

  • Physical education 
  • Leisure studies 
  • Health and exercise science 
  • Sports science 
  • Sports studies 
  • Sports in the community
  • Recreation management 
  • Sport development 

For candidates who don’t have a relevant degree or Higher National Diploma, coaching qualifications or similar work experience could be enough to get you through the first stage of the recruitment process. It is uncommon for employers to ask for a postgraduate degree, however, for some specialist positions, a postgraduate degree in sports development will put you in good stead with the recruitment team. 

If your position will see you working with children or vulnerable members of the community, you may also be asked to pass an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check to safeguard the members of the community you will be working with. 


You’ll need to show: 

  • You have the capacity to motivate others 
  • Exceptional organisational skills 
  • Leadership ability
  • Self-motivation and independent work capabilities
  • Your decision-making abilities aren’t clouded under pressure
  • Oral and written communication skills which allow you to connect with diverse subsets of the community
  • Project, time and people management skills
  • You can thrive in a group or team setting
  • You are passionate about sports and possess comprehensive knowledge of a range of sports, or a particular sport if you are applying for sport-specific positions. 
  • You can be diplomatic with your negotiation skills 
  • You are socially and politically aware of the current issues revolving around sports

Work Experience

For most positions, work experience is essential. Luckily, for those with sights set on a career in sports management, experience can easily be accrued by volunteering within the community as a coach or a sports activity organiser. Previous work in clubs, Sport NGBs, local authorities and schools is highly desired by recruiters. 

The more experience on your CV, the better your chances of securing an employment contract. Competition in this job market can be tough; to stand out, make as many contacts as possible by networking in the sports development section, and ideally take a multi-sport approach when accruing experience.

Career Prospects

There are plenty of potential career paths to take once you have gained experience as a sports development officer.

If you step into a typical post, you can explore the options of managing and developing teams or departments or potentially move into a promoted partnership or other posts in a local authority. 

If you gain experience in a local authority, you could venture into a wider remit, such as cultural development. 

Alternatively, you could take a strategy-based position with a sports NGB or local authority or use your honed expertise as a leisure contractor or health and fitness programme director. 

Many also choose to develop their career in community-focused roles by facilitating health education or regeneration projects.


Local authorities provide a bulk of the roles within sports development. They have specialist, community, and generic roles to be filled by sports development assistants, officers, and managers. However, after the continuous expansion of programmes, positions are available in a variety of settings, including educational institutions, NGBs and sports councils. 

Candidates can find vacancies through generic job sites and by scouring the BASESBUCS, and CIMPSA pages.

Related Courses

BSc (Hons) Professional Health Studies 

Many graduates of the Professional Health Studies programme at the University of West Scotland’s London campus progress into a career in local and national government agencies, on health boards and within the private sectors. The course equips graduates with the ability to transfer their skills into project management, making it an excellent choice for anyone who wants to pursue a career in sports development, especially within the NHS or other health-related charities.

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