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Sports Instructor Job Description, Career as a Sports Instructor, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Proficiency in sport plus training; bachelor's degree and/or certification for some positions

Salary: Median—$22,640 per year

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Sports instructors explain the rules and fundamentals of particular sports such as tennis, skiing, archery, and shooting and demonstrate the skills necessary for participation. They work with individuals or groups in a variety of settings, including resorts, health clubs, camps, community centers, and park and recreational facilities. Sports instructors work with beginners, teaching the basic techniques of a sport, and help experienced players improve their skills.

Specific job requirements vary depending on the type of sport, the people participating, and the type of facility providing the instruction. For example, the duties and responsibilities of ski instructors at a ski resort will differ from those of tennis instructors at a summer camp.

Instructors often teach sports by combining lectures and demonstrations with participation. In addition to instruction, they provide motivation, exercise safety precautions, evaluate trainees' progress, organize contests and athletic events, and perform other administrative duties.

Education and Training Requirements

Sports instructors generally need several years of experience in a particular sport plus formal training as a teacher. Proficiency in a sport can be developed through participation in school and community sports programs and in athletic clubs and organizations. A college degree, especially in physical education or sports physiology, is becoming increasingly important for a position as a sports instructor. Some employers also require sports instructors to be certified.

Getting the Job

After acquiring the necessary expertise in a sport and training in teaching, interested individuals should apply directly to an appropriate facility, such as a tennis club, ski resort, summer camp, or health club.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Sports instructors advance by developing a good reputation. This can be achieved by continuing their education and training and improving or expanding their own skills. Some well-known instructors open their own sports schools. A martial arts instructor looks on while a student tests for her black belt. (Photograph by Kelly A. Quin. Thomson Gale. Reproduced by permission.) Job opportunities for sports instructors are expected to grow as fast as the average through the year 2014 due to increased leisure time and public interest in health-related activities. Instructors with the most training and education will have the best opportunities.

Working Conditions

Depending on the type of sport they teach, instructors may work primarily indoors (such as in a gym or health club) or outdoors (such as on a court or in a camp setting). Much of the work is part time or seasonal. Part-time instructors may work as few as one or two hours a week or as many as twenty hours a week. Seasonal instructors may work a thirty-five- to forty-hour week for two to four months. Full-time instructors usually work thirty-five to forty hours a week throughout the year, but much of their work is done in the evenings or on weekends.

Earnings and Benefits

Earnings vary greatly depending on the sport and the employer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, sports instructors earned a median income of $22,640 per year in 2004. Those with a college degree and several years of experience earned the highest salaries.

Where to Go for More Information

Human Kinetics
P.O. Box 5076
Champaign, IL 61825-5076
(800) 747-4457

National Athletic Trainers Association
2952 Stemmons Fwy.
Dallas, TX 75247
(214) 637-6282

Full-time instructors employed by gyms or health clubs generally receive standard health, retirement, and vacation benefits. Part-time and seasonal workers usually do not receive benefits.

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