Sports coaches or instructors teach sporting skills and techniques to players of all levels and ages, from novices to top professional sportsmen and sportswomen.
You could be:
working with schools, community groups or competitive sportspeople and teams
working with individuals or with teams, depending on the sport
planning programmes of training to meet performance targets, combining practice on the field with watching videos of games and discussions of good play
watching participants training, correcting their mistakes and giving advice and encouragement
helping players train safely and, if necessary, working on recovery programmes for injured players, including working with other specialists such as physiotherapists
fostering good team spirit among the players
monitoring the physical and psychological condition of each player and advising on nutrition
helping to look for possible sponsorship deals.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of the company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
In a full time job you might earn £16,000 to £35,000 a year. Recent vacancies for sports coaches in Scotland have been at £9 to £16 an hour. Some self-employed coaches earn much more than this as they build up a reputation and a client group.
Full time jobs as coaches are not always easy to get – many contracts are part time.
You might work as an employee, be self-employed, or be an unpaid volunteer (many coaches of amateur groups and clubs are volunteers).
Work might be seasonal, and you might have periods of unemployment.
Evening and weekend work is common.
You could work both indoors and outdoors in all weathers.
You might have to travel to games and sometimes spend time away from home, possibly abroad.
There are many routes into sports coaching, both paid and voluntary. You may attend college or university to gain qualifications in the relevant sport or gain experience by working with a qualified and experienced coach.
An NQ or NC (SCQF Levels 4-6) in a sports subject – for some courses you need 3 subjects at National 4 or 5.
An HNC (SCQF Level 7) or HND (SCQF Level 8), degree (SCQF Levels 9-10) or postgraduate (SCQF Level 11) qualification in sports coaching and development or sports science – for entry you usually need 1-2 Highers for HNC or HND, 4-5 Highers for a degree.
The SQA National Progression Awards (NPAs) in Sports Coaching are available at SCQF Levels 4, 5 and 6 (UKCC Levels 1, 2 and 3). These qualifications are delivered through the centres that work with sportsscotland and the Scottish Governing Body of Sport. You would be expected to have at least UKCC Level 1 as a new coach.
A coaching award from the national governing body of the sport you wish to coach – some HNC, HND and degree courses include these awards.
You also need:
to be very fit and have played your chosen sport at competitive level
to know the rules of the national governing body of your chosen sport
a first aid qualification
you will require a satisfactory criminal record check from Disclosure Scotland to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details on the type you would need.
You could work in a sports centre, gymnasium, school, swimming pool, activity centre or hotel. Coaching job vacancies are also often advertised in the journals of the governing bodies.