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Sports Instructor

Sports instructors teach the basics of a particular sport (for example, skiing, swimming, baseball) to beginners and recreational athletes, or help experienced athletes to further develop their skills.

  • Avg. Salary $19,222.00
  • Avg. Wage $20.07
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 13,900
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Instructor, Program Leader, Skiing Instructor, Swimming Instructor, Teacher, Tennis Instructor

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Program Leaders and Instructors in Recreation, Sport and Fitness (5254) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Program Leaders and Instructors in Recreation and Sport (F154) 
  • 2011 NOC: Program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitness (5254) 
  • 2016 NOC: Program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitness (5254) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Sports Instructor is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Program Leaders and Instructors in Recreation, Sport and Fitness

Interest in manipulating and assembling supplies and sports and game equipment; and in monitoring recreational and sports activities to ensure safety and provide emergency and first aid assistance when required


Interest in instructing groups and individuals in arts, crafts and similar activities; in leading groups and individuals in recreational and leisure programs, and in attending clients with special needs by conducting therapeutic recreational and athletic activities


Interest in co-ordinating information to plan recreational, athletic, fitness and sports programs

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Dec 15, 2016

People who teach the general public or recreational athletes are usually called instructors, and those who teach competitive athletes are called coaches. In some sports, however, there is no distinction between instructor and coach. For information about coaching, see the Coach occupational profile.

Sports instructors teach participants individually or in groups the basic stances, movements, techniques, rules, regulations and safety precautions in a sport. Their duties vary greatly depending on the type of sport and the skill level of the participants. In general, however, sports instructors:

  • demonstrate correct techniques, procedures, use of equipment and exercises to enhance participants' abilities
  • teach the basic rules and strategies of the game or sport
  • demonstrate and teach appropriate personal safety skills
  • assess participants' levels of ability
  • ensure the safety of participants
  • build confidence in participants
  • evaluate participant progress and assign grades where appropriate
  • organize events in which participants may demonstrate their abilities
  • maintain sports equipment
  • counsel participants regarding nutrition and lifestyle
  • provide first aid when required.

Sports instructors also may:

  • advise participants regarding equipment and clothing
  • sell clothing and equipment at clubs or resorts
  • participate in sport demonstrations or competitions.
Working Conditions
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Depending on the sport, sports instructors may work indoors in community facilities or clubs (for example, gymnastics or swimming instructors) or outdoors (for example, ski instructors). Some work both indoors and outdoors, teaching and demonstrating techniques indoors and supervising participant practice outdoors.

Some sports instructors work full time, but most work part time, seasonally or mainly on weekends and evenings. The number of hours they work sometimes depends on the reputation and ability of the instructor, ranging from 2 to 20 or more hours a week. In some sports, instructors may be required to lift items that weigh up to or over 20 kilograms.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Sports instructors need the following characteristics:

  • physical fitness
  • patience
  • enthusiasm
  • a responsible attitude
  • good organizational skills
  • good communication skills
  • ability to work with and relate to people of all ages
  • good leadership and motivational skills.

They should enjoy having clear rules and organized methods, dealing with people and designing new programs.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Sports instructors must be proficient in relevant sport skills. Many have reached competitive levels in their sport. It is recommended that all instructors be trained in first aid and have current CPR training. A background in physical education and teaching experience are definite assets.

Some sports require instructors to have reached a high level of proficiency in the sport, and be certified through the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP). For more information, see the Coach occupational profile.

Sports associations usually have a certification process for those wanting to teach. For example:

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 15, 2016

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Sports instructors are employed by:

  • provincial sports associations
  • community leagues
  • YMCAs and YWCAs
  • health clubs
  • resorts
  • camps
  • private clubs
  • parks and recreational facilities (for example, swimming pools)
  • private businesses
  • continuing education departments of local schools
  • university and college athletic departments.

Most sports instructors work part time. Some jobs are seasonal.

Sports instructors can become coaches, trainers or athletic managers. Swimming instructors may become lifeguards. Some sports instructors also own or manage sports franchise locations (for example, martial arts schools). For more information, see the Recreation Facility Operator occupational profile.

Sports instructors are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5254: Program leaders and instructors in recreation and sport and fitness. In Alberta, 75% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

In Alberta, the F154: Program Leaders and Instructors in Recreation and Sport occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.5% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 179 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Some sports instructors are volunteers. Those who are paid may charge by the class or by the hour. Fees and wages vary depending on the sport.

Program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitness

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $25.00 $18.18 $16.50
Overall $15.00 $32.50 $20.07 $18.00
Top $15.70 $43.75 $25.06 $22.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Educational Services
Public Administration
Health Care & Social Assistance
Information, Culture, Recreation
Other Services (Repair, Personal Services and Related)
Accommodation & Food Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Physical Education and Recreation
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Alberta Sport Connection website:

Tennis Professionals Association (TPA) website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 25, 2016. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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