April 18, 2018

Five key skills you need for a career in leisure

According to Prospects, the UK’s leisure, sports and tourism sector will need to recruit 1.3 million people by 2024. More research published in the Active Lives Adult Survey by Sport England has found that approximately 60% of adults are physically active, and more people are taking part in sports than ever before.

So, whether you’re passionate about fitness, food or the great outdoors, this sector offers plenty of job opportunities.

Why a degree isn’t necessary for a career in the leisure sector

If you’re not planning to go to university, you’ll be pleased to know that a traditional undergraduate degree is not essential in this sector. Instead, many companies look out for candidates with relevant qualifications in leisure, hospitality, sports or tourism, which could range from diplomas to vocational qualifications gained via an apprenticeship.

Some people work their way up by getting a mix of relevant work experience and specialist trainings, such as a coaching qualification if they train to become a sports coach. Although many employers do recruit graduates with degrees, Prospects states that having an interest in sports and/or leisure is just as important. Therefore, a combination of relevant experience and passion can greatly improve your chances of having a successful career in this sector.

So, here are five key skills you’ll need for a career in leisure:

Customer service

To be successful in this sector, you’ll need to demonstrate great customer service skills. This includes a willingness to listen to your customers and empathise with them. In a customer-facing role, you may often have to deal with customer complaints – so do your best to find a solution while maintaining your professionalism.

Dragons Den Star Deborah Meaden, who made her fortune in the leisure sector, says staff at her former Weststar Holidays leisure business were not just expected to answer the phone; they needed to help their customers choose the right holiday for them. Likewise, a personal trainer or gym instructor will need to understand their clients’ goals and devise a workout programme that’s right for them.

Computer skills

As much of your communication will be digital, you’ll need to have good typing skills. If you’re in a customer-facing role, you’ll often need to enter customer details into a company system very quickly, whether you’re speaking with the person on the phone or face to face. A familiarity with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and other common applications may also be beneficial, although this should be clearly stated in the job specification.

Communication skills

Good communication and customer service go hand in hand, although there’s much more to this than saying the right words. Your nonverbal communication – body language – is just as important. Keep eye contact with your customers when you’re talking to them, and maintain good body posture so you always make the best impression.


Leisure brands need people who can work effectively in teams to achieve collective goals. Whether you’re working in a restaurant, hotel or an adventure sports company, you must be comfortable working with other people and sharing tasks. As you work your way up, you may end up managing your own team and assigning responsibilities to different team members – which will require excellent delegating skills.

A good level of physical fitness

In many jobs in the leisure sector, you’ll need to be reasonably fit or pass a fitness test to be hired. For example, many people take a level 2 or 3 apprenticeship in exercise and fitness instruction in order to become a personal trainer or gym instructor.

Hopefully you’ll find all the above useful if you’re considering a career in the leisure sector. Whether you’re looking to become a personal trainer or a hotel manager, our goal is to get 70% of the people who complete our programmes on to sustainable employment.