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Sport and leisure

Australia’s intense love of sport and recreation has driven fields under the sport and leisure umbrella to the forefront of many students’ career choices. Over the last decade, universities (mainly the newer ones) and private providers have created a host of new courses in sport and leisure. Courses in fields like sports medicine, sports management, leisure studies and outdoor recreation are now rivalling some of the most popular traditional courses. Browse Sport and Leisure courses by state
On the downside, while jobs were predicted to multiply faster in the sports and leisure industries than in any other sector of the economy a short while ago, it seems that the supply of graduates may have outrun the demand.Further information about the sport industry in Australia can be found on the Australian Sport Commission website.If you are interested in this field, you should also consider courses in tourism and hospitality and some specialisations in business and management, environmental studies or the humanities and social sciences. If you are interested in the health-related side of sport and leisure, you can also look at the field of study profiles for health services and support, rehabilitation and perhaps even medicine.
VET study in sport and leisure
Courses and specialisations
VET courses range from certificate I through to advanced diploma level and cover a range of specialisations, including areas such as fitness instruction and leisure and health. Sport and recreation, outdoor recreation and fitness are the main specialisations offered at diploma and advanced diploma level. Most VET courses in this field will have no entry requirements, especially certificate I–III courses. However, entry requirements usually apply for advanced diploma courses. In some courses it may also be necessary to be in relevant employment or to gain employment once you are enrolled in the course.
Where to study
Many TAFE institutes and some Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) offer VET courses in this field, often with articulation pathways into degree courses.
Career opportunities
The careers available to VET graduates cover many aspects of the sports and leisure industries. Although VET graduates are not able to qualify to work in professions such as sports medicine (this is only available to university graduates), they can qualify for other specialist occupations that are unique to the sector. The following are just some examples: fitness instructor, yoga instructor, stablehand, jockey, coach and racing animal trainer.VET graduates from general sport and recreation courses will have opportunities in state or local clubs and community organisations, in roles involving promotion and event management or instructing and coaching sports and recreation activities. Others can work in organisations that operate in specialist industries, such as the fitness and racing industries. Graduates who qualify in an occupation, such as yoga instructor, can often work for themselves. In order to qualify for some occupations it may be necessary to complete a higher VET qualification (diploma or advanced diploma). See the Career Search for more information about your career options.
Undergraduate study in sport and leisure
Courses and specialisations
The following are just some of the majors you can study in this field:
  • Biomechanics
  • Exercise rehabilitation
  • Human movement
  • Leisure studies
  • Outdoor recreation
  • Sports coaching
  • Sports management
  • Sports medicine
  • Sports science
  • Therapeutic recreation
If you’re interested in courses in this field, you probably have an inherent interest in sport. Just bear in mind that study in this field will not necessarily lead you to involvement in professional sport; courses are more likely to lead to a variety of roles that focus on supporting the various sports industries and professionals. Graduates of studies in a relevant area could find themselves working in any aspect of the industry, including national and state sporting organisations, sporting clubs and competitions; facilities management; event management; sport media; sport marketing and promotion; sports medicine; health promotion; leisure and recreation centre management; and government sport policy and funding. The course you choose will very much depend on the area of specialisation and associated occupations that interest you.Getting into degree courses is not too difficult in this field, although cut-offs for courses with a health or science side to them (such as biomechanics, exercise science or sports medicine) are high. Many TAFE institutes and a few private providers offer diploma-level courses in this field, often with articulation pathways into university degrees.
Where to study
Degrees in this field are offered around the country at universities and some private providers. However, because there are distinct areas of specialisation in sport and leisure, depending on your interests, you might need to be flexible about where you study.Another thing to think about — and this depends on the nature of the course and the level of practical work — are the facilities that each institution offers. This may be an important factor influencing your decision-making process. Courses in capital cities like Melbourne and Sydney, for example, may have easy access to Olympic facilities or other major sporting centres.See Degree costs and loans for more information about paying for your degree.To find out how each institution performs in your field of study, see our Ratings section.
Career opportunities
According to the 2014 Course Experience Questionnaire survey, graduates of this field of study are quite happy with their course experience and give their teachers good ratings. Unfortunately, many graduates have difficulty gaining employment, with a 54 per cent unemployment rate in 2014 (an increase of 14 per cent on the year prior). Almost half of graduates went on to further study, perhaps to improve their job prospects. The starting salary for recent graduates ($47,174 in 2014) is below average and has fallen since 2013.See the Career Search for more information about your career options.
Postgraduate study in sport and leisure
Courses and specialisations
At postgraduate level, sport and leisure is a small but highly specialised field, with courses available in areas such as sport coaching, sport management and sport science. Coursework programs in this field might offer those already working in the field the chance to advance their skills, or they might be designed to help graduates of related fields enter new occupations or specialisations. While the majority of programs are coursework-based, many postgraduate students (almost 40 per cent) undertake research degrees. If you are contemplating research work in the area, you should consider a number of factors when choosing a program and department. This includes both the specialisations of each institution (depending on your chosen field), as well as your potential supervisors.
Where to study
As quite a diverse field, you will find relevant courses at many institutions (both universities and private providers). You may find that some specialisations are on offer at just a few institutions while others may be offered just about anywhere. One thing to consider is that research and coursework in areas related to sport and leisure is likely to involve field projects and clinical work, so make sure that the faculty or school has appropriate industry links and up-to-date facilities. Institutions in Melbourne and Sydney, for example, may have access to Olympic-standard facilities such as pools and athletic tracks. To find out how each institution performs in your field of study, see our Ratings section.
Career opportunities
According to the national Course Experience Questionnaire survey, recent sport and leisure postgraduates were very happy with their course experience, the teaching quality of their courses and the skills they gained, awarding all five stars. Employment prospects have worsened, with 26 per cent of graduates still seeking work four months after course completion. Salaries are below average, having dropped to $61,944 per year. See the Career Search for more information about your career options.
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