Want to work in football but don’t want to play? Here are 10 jobs that were integral to getting England to the World Cup (and who’ll probably be coming straight home with them pretty soon) you can totally look into… (And don’t forget to sign up for the GoThinkBig Sessions in Glasgow!)
Salary: Depends on your experience but a highly experienced massage therapist could earn over £30k
What’s the job? Sports massage therapists work closely with the physiotherapist to treat sports injuries based on the individual player’s medical history. They also keep detailed patient records, refer the player to other medical professions where appropriate and help plan courses of treatment to help them return to full fitness
Qualifications needed: A massage therapist degree, tailored to the specific route you want to go down. See the Premier Training Association for more info on various courses and qualifications.
How to get the job: Get qualifications that are nationally accredited through Active IQ and are fully recognised by employers and the Register of Exercise Professionals as well as work experience anywhere you can. Shadowing massage therapists is also a good way of securing a mentor and getting a foot in the door.
Salary: £18k – £60k (depending on the level/experience)
Mitch Lomax, who’s the course leader for Sports Performance at the Department of Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Portsmouth and works hard to place students into the sports science industries…
What actually IS the job?
It varies from club to club, but sports scientists tend to be all-rounders. One team might want more performance analysis style help, another might focus on strength and conditioning, and some might want a bit of all of that. A typical role is looking at physiological responses (e.g. heart rate) of a player and feeding back to the physio so they can keep an eye on someone who isn’t perhaps as fit as they could be. You wouldn’t do this in a game situation, it’d be in training with the player wearing a heart rate monitor hooked up to GPS so you can check the total distance they covered in a game and use this information to help them improve.
How do people usually get the job?
Via work experience and also checking the job descriptions really carefully, because sports science can be a bit of an umbrella term. Some clubs will advertise for a “sports scientist” but they actually really want a strength and conditioning coach if you read the job spec. Some will want them to play a more performance analysis role, so you can either specialise and keep an eye out for the job that leans heavily on your specialism, or learn a bit of everything and boost your chances. If you want to work for the big clubs, though, it’s all about a) having good qualifications and b) getting work experience.
What tips do you have?
You need science A-levels – so PE, and also Biology are crucial. After that, a sports and exercise science degree as well as work experience will do the trick. Quite a lot of universities build work experience into their courses (like us!) so you can gain academic credit while getting on-the-job training. A lot of my ex-students start in a support role typically in a strength and conditioning capacity. You’ve got to be proactive, don’t just sit there. You’ve got to keep contacting various clubs and take what you can get because once you’ve got your foot in the door it makes it easier to move onto a different position. Don’t give up!
Salary: £20k – £50k
What’s the job? Using IT and analysis to help maintain the club’s position in the premier league as well as track a player’s fitness levels and performance. They’ll use GPS monitors on the players during training to see the distance covered, how many shots on target, the positioning of each player to maximise productivity of the team as a whole. They also monitor the opposition and feed back all the information to the various coaches.
Qualifications needed: You’ll need a minimum 2:1 degree in sports science, experience using video analysis software, loads of organisation and a strong knowledge of football (obviously).
How to get the job: Analyse your local football team, whether that’s shadowing whoever is the official performance analysist or doing it yourself. Make sure you take P.E. and Computer Science A-Levels (or equivalent) before going on to do a degree in sports science and a masters in performance analysis – or another sporting/IT based degree followed by the masters.
Salary: £16k – £14.8million (er, yeah)
Mick Payne is the goalkeeping coach for the England C Team and coached coaches (!) for the Football Association (as well as running goalkeeping school The Art of Saving – so check that out)
How did you get the job?
First and foremost, I was a player. There’s nothing better than playing to a decent level first, because you need to understand what’s required in order to get the most out of the people you’re coaching. I was at Chelsea as a young player, but never quite made the grade so got the chance to play to non-league football while getting my coaching qualifications on the side, because I wanted to make sure I had something in place after I’d finished playing. A lot of the time you might not be an outstanding player, but you’ve got the aptitude to coach.
What sort of person would make a good coach?
You’ve got to be a good listener, know your stuff but also have confidence in your own ability and be able to put it across. The game has changed in my experience because, when once upon a time it was coach-led, it’s now a lot more player-led. When you coach, it’s about making sure the players are thinking for themselves. The most important thing, apart from the knowledge, is being a role model. There’s a way you need to act, both on and off the field, and younger players can be easily influenced – whether rightly or wrongly. You need to put people on the right track and conduct yourself with good manners, in a constructive not destructive way. One last thing, coaching is all about preparation and organisation – if you prep right and organise right, then you’ll be sorted!
How can someone become a coach?
You can get all the info from the Football Association, like what’s available in your local county and which courses you can do. There are loads of different levels you can get; these qualifications are all about showing you have what it takes to lead a team.
Some people think they’ll walk straight into a job, but it’s something you can start working on alongside another job – maybe you’ll start with evening/weekend work with young players. Earn your stripes and do sessions two or three times a week. Knock on doors at leisure centres, amateur sports teams and figure out what sort of player you most enjoy coaching – what’s happened with coaching now is, people are looking for certain coaches to work with certain age groups. There are different qualifications to work with young people, for example, so look into that when thinking about qualifications. It’s also a good idea to broaden your horizons and experience coaching various age groups so you can adapt depending on who you’re teaching.
Also, watch as many coaches as you possibly can and get in touch with them! I did that myself and I always encourage anyone who wants to come along to a training session and watch me work. Us coaches are only too pleased to pass on our knowledge – plus, certain coaches have certain strengths and attributes, so it’s good to meet and watch a wide range.
Salary: £40,000 and upwards
What’s the job? Similar to a personal trainer role, the strength and conditioning coach will work with the performance analysist to make sure a player is tackling and moving correctly in order to track their core strength. On top of this they’ll create fitness plans with the physio to aid non-fit players and optimise the physical performance of the team as a whole.
Qualifications: Graduate qualifications in Sports Science and/or Strength & Conditioning (UKSCA accredited), knowledge of performance analysis software, first aid qualifications. For more info, check out the UK Strength and Conditioning Association website.
How to forge a career in it: The qualifications are crucial, and attempt to specialise in as many areas as possible. Work experience is also a big part of employability, so boost your portfolio by shadowing or assisting strength and conditioning coaches at local or amateur teams in order to get an “in” and learn on the job.
Scouts are responsible for finding new players for teams. A lot of scouts will be out in Brazil at the moment looking for players for Premier League teams.
A scout’s job is pretty self-explanatory, they go to football matches, schools and colleges to scout for new talent and try to sign up new footballers. To become a scout you’ll need to have a good knowledge of football and probably will be involved in local football.
If you aspire to scout for a Premier League Club you’ll need to approach clubs. They’ll then send you on a course in talent identification run by the FA, which will teach you how to find the next Daniel Sturridge.
As well as finding the next big thing in football, you also get a pretty nice salary of around £40,000. Not bad for being paid to watch football.
Psychology is actually a major part of football – it’s important that players are mentally prepared for games as well as physically. We caught up with Bradley Busch a sports psychologist from Inner Drive to find out more about his work and how he got into it.
What does your work actually involve?
I mainly work in football, with a range of players from Premiership through to League Two. I was also quite involved with the Team GB wheelchair tennis team for the Paralympics in 2012.
I tend to work in two different areas with athletes: general mindset and under pressure. We work to help athletes prepare before games and also help make sure that they’re learning from their performances. And also we work to improve their concentration, nerves and anxieties and confidence.
How did you get into sports psychology?
I did a degree in sports and exercise science at Loughborough University and then a Masters in sports psychology. The more traditional route that some people go down is the supervision route afterwards, where more experienced sports psychologists train you.
It’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was doing my A levels. I think in the last ten years or so, sports science has become more mainstream, more accepted and more advanced. I thought psychology was the most interesting because it provides nice variation.
What advice would you give to aspiring sports psychologists?
I think experience is key, even if it’s at a really low level. Sports tends to be quite a small community – people always know other people so even you start quite low down that experience is great. Get your mistakes out of your system when it doesn’t really matter so that when you do reach a more elite level you’re more confident and you’ve got much more experience to refer to.
A lot of it is opportunities you make yourself – there’s no sports psychology graduate scheme. You’ve got to be prepared to work and work quite antisocial hours, and clock up the miles on the motorways. You’ve got to be quite proactive.
Commercial departments within football teams need to breed supporters, sponsors and fans, that’s where jobs like commercial managers and directors come in. They do this through developing relationships with key organisations to get sponsorship and advertising – for example the England team will have someone who was responsible for organising the Nike kit sponsorship.
You’ll probably have a degree, though it’s not technically required. What you do need is good communication skills and the gift of the gab (sales experience will definitely be helpful). However, if you’re absolutely set on getting your degree first sports management, communications, PR or sports science are all pretty good options.
This is a pretty fun job – lots of schmoozing to be done and you could earn up to £80,000 a year.
Osteopathy focuses on making sure that the body is physically ready for sports and helps athletes recover from injury. We spoke to Simeon Milton from the Osteopathic Sports Care Association who was also the Clinical Lead Osteopath at London 2012 to find out more.
What does your job actually involve?
I work on any muscular skeletal injury, although osteopathy is most known for spinal problems. We do any joint problems or injuries.
Working with athletes that can mean two things: if there’s an actual injury you’re working to get them back to training as soon as possible, but you’ll also be doing some screening beforehand to make sure that everything is moving as well as possible because if you end up with a restriction in certain joints what the body will do is offload onto another and you’ll end up injuring that. You’re helping them perform at the best of their ability.
It’s a hugely important job and there’s a lot of pressure too. I’ve worked in a lot of different sports, including the England under 21s rugby team and with them it’s easy to say ‘I don’t think you should play next week,’ because there’ll be another hundred possible games for them. At the Olympic Games you could have someone who’s trained for four years and is retiring afterwards and this is their chance to compete at the top. So yeah, the word intensive is overused but in that situation I think it’s the only word.
How did you get into osteopathy?
I played a lot of sport myself growing up – rugby, football, cricket – and my mum would tell you I was incredibly accident prone and if I played tiddly winks one would have gone into my eye. But I ended up needing a fair bit of treatment from various injuries and I always found osteopathy to be the most beneficial to get me back on track.
The qualifications that you need to get onto an osteopathy course vary from course to course but generally you’ll need science A levels and PE is a good idea. It is a hard course though – it’s four years full time and you’ll be in uni seven or eight hours a day. But it is fantastically rewarding when you qualify.
What advice would you give to aspiring osteopaths?
Be prepared to spend nine hours a week in your underwear stood in front of 40 people. Initially it’s quite daunting but after a couple of weeks you get used to it but it’s worth being aware of that. You’re not let loose on the public straight away, you have to learn on each other and you need to be able to see the body.
Without someone to organise their travel, England stood absolutely no chance of making it to Brazil. Let’s be honest if they’d left it to the players they’d probably have forgotten to book a hotel.
Being the travel manager you’ve got a pretty big job on your hands. You’ll need to choose the team hotel, negotiate a good rate, organise all the travel to and from the airport and make sure that flights are all organised. Oh and that the players know where and when they need to turn up.
To be the person responsible for getting England to the World Cup on time you’ll probably need to do a management degree and build up a lot of sports related experience. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to be involved in a uni sports team and get involved in organising tours.
For being a travel organisational genius you’ll get paid between £20,000 and £40,000. Not bad for booking someone else’s travel, although there should be danger money for feeling sad about not getting to go on the trips yourself.