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Sports Instructor

Sports instructors teach the basics of specific sports, such as skiing, swimming, or baseball. They may teach beginners or intermediate recreational athletes. Or they may help experienced athletes develop their skills further.

Also Known As

Instructor, Program Leader, Teacher

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) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Program Leaders and Instructors in Recreation, Sport and Fitness
2006 NOC : 5254

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group


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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Updated Mar 31, 2020

People who teach the general public or recreational athletes are usually called instructors. People who teach competitive athletes are most often 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 focus on 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 their students. 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 personal safety skills
  • Assess participants’ levels of ability
  • Ensure the safety of participants
  • Build participants’ confidence in themselves
  • Evaluate participant progress and assign grades where appropriate
  • Organize events in which participants may demonstrate their abilities
  • Maintain sports equipment
  • Provide first aid when required

Sports instructors may advise participants on equipment and clothing. They also may sell clothing and equipment at clubs or resorts.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

Some sports instructors work indoors in community facilities or clubs while others work outdoors. It often depends on the sport. For example, gymnastics instructors work indoors and ski instructors work outdoors. Some work both indoors and outdoors. This may depend on the employer or season (swimming instructors may teach at either indoor or outdoor pools). Other instructors divide their time, teaching and demonstrating techniques indoors and supervising participant practice outdoors.

Some sports instructors work full time. However, most work part time, seasonally, or during weekends and evenings. The number of hours an instructor works can depend on their reputation and ability. It can easily range from 2 to 20 or more hours per week. In some sports, instructors may need to lift heavy items.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Sports instructors need:

  • Physical fitness
  • Patience
  • Enthusiasm
  • A responsible attitude
  • Organizational and communication skills
  • The ability to work with and relate to people of all ages
  • Leadership and motivational skills

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

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitness
NOC code: 5254

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 75 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Oct 29, 2021 and May 19, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Plan and carry out recreational, fitness and sports activities
Schedule activities, keep logs, maintain records and prepare reports
Monitor recreational, sports or fitness activities to ensure safety and provide emergency or first aid assistance when required
Demonstrate and instruct athletic, fitness or sports activities and techniques
Lead groups and individuals in recreational or leisure programs
Ensure health and safety regulations are followed
Personal Suitability: Reliability
Personal Suitability: Organized
Leading/instructing individuals
Personal Suitability: Judgement
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Minimum Education Varies

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.

Related Education

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

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Certification Not Regulated

Increasingly, sports instructors need to be highly proficient in the sport they teach. Sports instructors can 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:

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Sports instructors work for a diverse array of employers, such as:

  • Provincial sports associations
  • Community leagues
  • YMCAs and YWCAs
  • Health clubs
  • Resorts
  • Camps
  • Private clubs
  • Parks and recreational facilities, such as public 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 can become lifeguards. Some sports instructors own or manage sports franchise locations, such as 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 [pdf] in this occupation is 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 (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 5254: Program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitness occupational group is expected to have an average annual growth of 1.9% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 270 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2020

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.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitness

2016 NOC : 5254
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 5254 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

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.

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

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 Mar 31, 2020

Alberta Sport Connection website:

Tennis Professionals Association (TPA) website:

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

Updated Mar 31, 2020. 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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