Sport and exercise psychologist

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

Annual Salary

£20,000 to £48,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours


Future employment

There will be 5% more Sport and exercise psychologist jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

You’ll usually specialise in either sport or exercise, although you may work in both. 

Sports psychologists work with teams and individuals at all levels, and help with issues like:

  • nerves and anxiety
  • self-confidence
  • concentration
  • motivation
  • sports injuries
  • aggression

Exercise psychologists’ day-to-day duties might include:

  • 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'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
  • 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 usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grade 4 (C) or above, including English, maths and sometimes a science
  • 3 A levels or equivalent

You’ll also need clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

Once you've completed your masters degree and 2 years' supervised practice, you'll need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

If you already have a degree in a subject other than psychology, you may be able to achieve GBC by completing a BPS-approved conversion course.

£20,000 to £48,000

Starter salary: £20,000 to £22,000

Experienced salary: £27,000 to £37,000

As a consultant working with top professional athletes, you could earn up to £1,000 per day.

These figures are a guide.


You’ll often work Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. You may also need to work in the evening and at weekends to fit in with training and competitions.

Some of your work will be office based, and you may also need to travel to team premises, competition venues and clinics.

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.

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.

You'll find more details about working in psychology from The British Psychological Society.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You’ll need:

  • 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
  • an accurate, logical and methodical approach
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