Job type

Sport and exercise psychologist

£20k - £48k

Typical salary

37 – 39

Hours per week

Sport and exercise psychologists study the mental and emotional effects of taking part in sport and exercise.

More info

  • Study the mental and emotional effects of taking part in sport
  • You'll need excellent communication/listening skills and the ability to motivate people
  • You could become a senior psychologist or head of a psychology department

As a sport and exercise psychologist you'll usually specialise in either sport or exercise, although you may work in both. You'll work with teams and individuals at all levels.


  • Working with athletes, teams, coaches and referees
  • Helping athletes develop strategies to deal with nerves, anxiety, self-confidence, concentration and motivation
  • Supporting athletes to deal with sports injuries and giving advice to coaches on team communication
  • Working in cardiac rehabilitation or GP exercise referral schemes
  • Advising and counselling patients who are ill and might benefit from getting involved in regular exercise
  • Working with health promotion staff to show patients the therapeutic and health benefits of exercise
  • Setting up exercise programmes in workplaces, prisons and psychiatric units
  • Studying the reasons that some people are more active than others


You may need to work in the evening and at weekends to fit in with training and competitions. You could work at a sports arena, at a fitness centre, at a health centre, in a prison or on a sports field. Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time.

You could work as a full-time sport psychologist, or you could combine consultancy work with teaching and research. As an exercise psychologist, you could work for a local health authority, or on a GP exercise referral scheme. You could also evaluate exercise programmes in workplaces, prisons or psychiatric settings.

You'll need

This role would be ideal for someone with excellent communication and listening skills, the ability to motivate people, good problem-solving and decision-making skills, the ability to organise a complex workload to meet deadlines, and an accurate, logical and methodical approach.

You'll need to complete a degree in psychology accredited by The British Psychological Society (BPS), a BPS accredited master's degree in sport and exercise psychology and 2 years' structured supervised practice.

You may be able to study for an approved postgraduate conversion course, if you're a graduate in a subject other than psychology or your psychology degree is not accredited by the BPS. Competition for postgraduate training is strong. You'll need an upper second class degree or higher, and evidence of excellent research skills to apply. You'll also need relevant work experience.

You'll need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council and pass enhanced background checks for this role.

You can join The British Psychological Society for professional development opportunities.


With experience and further study you could become a senior psychologist or head of a psychology department. You could also move into teaching or lecturing.