Graduate Careers Advice

Graduate Leisure Centre Manager Careers

Lucy Miller

Do you love sport? You might not be the next Olympic athlete, but that doesn't mean you can't turn your passion for sport into a meaningful career.

Due to the continued success of our Olympic athletes, interest in sports is at an all-time high. This means that there are increased opportunities for people looking to work in the sports and recreation industry – and therefore more opportunities in leisure management positions.

While liking sport and fitness is important for jobs in leisure centre management, you also need to have skills in business and health to turn your interest into a permanent job. You can have a really rewarding career though, encouraging a love for sport and developing talent in people of all ages.

As a leisure centre manager your hours are likely to vary greatly, depending on the opening hours of your centre – you may need to work weekends or evenings, for example.

How Much Can I Earn as a Leisure Centre Manager?

Leisure centre managers can earn between £16,600-£37,000, depending on experience and where the facility is located. Private gyms or those in cities are likely to pay more.

According to Pay Scale, the average salary for a duty manager at a leisure centre is £23,000 per year.

What Qualifications do I Need to be a Leisure Centre Manager?

The majority of people who work in the sports and recreation sector do so for their love of it, rather than because their degree has led them directly there.

In general though, degrees such as sports and exercise science, business, management or events are likely to be very useful if you’re looking for a job as a leisure centre manager.

There are also a number of business and management related jobs in the sports and recreation sector that you could go into with a wide variety of degrees. Working in a management, you could choose to work for a:

  • Fitness centre
  • Outdoor pursuits centre
  • Theme park
  • Sports development agency
  • Health club/ gym

Some of the biggest graduate employers in the leisure industry include David Lloyd Leisure and Parkwood Leisure. Within these companies you are likely to work across a wide variety of business roles. Graduate programmes give you a structured pattern of work, set goals to reach, and often offer the chance of a permanent job after the completion of your scheme. Schemes are likely to last between 18 months and two years.

What Skills Do I Need to be a Leisure Centre Manager?

To become a leisure centre manager you'll need to enjoy working with people, and have excellent communication skills. Good leadership and organisation will help you get a job in a management position.

In the vast majority of cases working in the sports and recreation sector is going to involve constant communication and interaction with the general public - even if you are in a leisure management role. This means that a variety of skills are essential. They include:

  • Good verbal and written communication
  • Problem solving
  • Positivity and optimism
  • Quick thinking
  • Diplomacy and negotiation
  • Tact and consideration
  • Presentation

What Experience Do I Need to Get a Job in Leisure Centre Management?

Work experience in a sports or leisure centre should be easy to get – whether it is in a head office or as casual work – and can give you an insight into the day-to-day practices of the industry and how it works.

Any other administration or business experience you can take on will also be a big advantage when applying for these roles.

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