Careers in leisure

The leisure industry is a wide-ranging industry that encompasses areas including sports, tourism, hospitality and event management. This means that the range of opportunities within the sector is very wide and covers a range of very varied roles within companies of differing sizes.

There is not a structured recruitment path within the sector as it is very dependent on the particular area that you are looking to pursue. Networking will be key to give you an insight into the day-to-day work that a role involves.

Companies in this sector recruit graduates from a range of degree backgrounds. A specific interest in a sport of leisure activity can be important. This is a very customer-facing industry so excellent communication skills and interpersonal skills will be key.

What is a career in leisure?

The leisure industry offers international graduate opportunities within sports, tourism, hospitality and event management as well as a vast range of part-time and entry level work.

You could be working within sports policy, development and administration, coaching and wellbeing, as part of a graduate programme within a global hotel, leisure brand or travel agency….the list goes on.

What underpins the work is a desire to create enjoyable experiences for the betterment of people’s everyday lives. Employers are looking for you to demonstrate communication, flexibility, commercial awareness and a commitment to the industry

Where can I work, what can I do, and how can I get there?

Where can I work?

Whilst the number of LSE graduates choosing to work in this sector is fairly small, there are a wide range of options. The areas listed here are some of the most popular with our alumni:

  • International hospitality organisations – these include international hotel groups, restaurant/café chains, amusement parks and clubs eg, Whitbread, Intercontinental Hotels Group and Merlin Entertainments.
  • Event management companies – you could work for an event management company working across a range of industries, eg, Live Nation Entertainment and Reed Exhibitions. Alternatively, you could aim to work for a specific venue.
  • Leisure and fitness companies – these offer a wide variety of opportunities. Some of the larger companies, eg, David Lloyd and Virgin Active, recruit graduates into personal trainer and management roles.
  • Travel industry – there are many graduate programmes and direct entry roles within this industry, including those offered by TUI Group, P&O Cruises and Expedia UK. This area has also been disrupted in recent years by AirBnb who may also have roles.
  • Tourism bodies and associations – there are several associations and bodies representing the tourist industry in the United Kingdom, including the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO), Institute of Travel and Tourism and Visit Britain. You will find similar organisations internationally.
  • Sports bodies and associations – there are several associations and bodies representing the sports industry and advising on policy at a national and local level, including the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES), UK Sport and Sport England. There are also organisations with a more global focus such as FIFA and the International Olympic Committee. If your interest is in a specific sport, their individual governing bodies may be worthwhile researching.
  • Government, think tanks and research organisations – you could be involved in creating new national government strategies working for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS), or a research organisation like the Institute of Sport Exercise and Health, or a think tank like Sports Think Tank.
  • Gaming, betting and gambling – there are an increasing number of commercial and technology roles in this sector including graduate roles for organisations like Sky Betting and Gaming and Electronic Arts (EA). E-sports is a huge growth area and, if that interests you, worth further exploration.
  • Individual sports clubs – these are huge businesses in their own right. City Football Club (which owns clubs including Manchester City) has a graduate programme and other clubs will have commercial roles available.
  • Sports consulting – A number of consulting firms are now taking an active interest in the sports sector. Deloitte has established its Sports Business Group for example.

What can I do?

There are a huge number of job roles within the leisure sector. We’ve outlined some of the main areas LSE students are interested in. If you can, try and talk to someone who’s doing the job you’re interested in. Gaining some experience whilst at LSE will give you a real flavour of what it’s like.

  • Event/conference management – works on events in house or for an external agency. Good organisation skills are vital as you will be planning events from conception through to running the day itself and the post event evaluation. Prospects’ event manager job profile provides further details.
  • Policy and development – many LSE students are interested in working for the government or organisations and bodies that help to develop policy to improve access and amenities within the leisure and sports industry. This includes government roles and policy roles within think tanks and research organisations. TARGETjobs’ sports development officer page and DCMS careers page are useful resources.
  • Data analysts – data is key and the importance of high quality consumer data in the sports, hospitality and leisure industry has led to an increasing number of roles working with data. If you enjoy working with data and are highly analytical, this area could be of interest. Check out Prospects’ data analyst job profile.
  • Communications and marketing – this sector has many roles available within communications and marketing. Prospects’ sector overview of marketing, advertising and PR and our Careers in media and communications page provide more information.
  • General management, facility management and corporate functions (HR, IT, finance, sales) – General managerial support and infrastructure support are key areas within the large hospitality, tourism and sports organisations. These are likely to be via structured programmes. Visit our Careers in business page to find out more.

There are also many roles available in smaller, independently owned organisations. Many individuals working within the leisure industry also set up and run their own businesses, such as becoming a personal trainer or owning a restaurant. Freelance work is also common in the events industry, although this does usually require building up a strong portfolio of events work first.

How can I get there?

This sector often values experience over academic credentials. We recommend looking for part-time and casual work experience to demonstrate your motivation for the industry and understanding of customers and clients. Look for advertised jobs on industry specific websites and with professional bodies, as well as using CareerHub.

If you’re looking to gain experience

There are many part-time, casual and entry level roles in this sector, which you could undertake alongside your studies. Having a variety of relevant work experience will be just as valuable as your academic credentials, as it demonstrates a motivation to work in the industry.

If you’re early on in your career

There are structured graduate schemes across a range of functions in large organisations like Whitbread and Marriot. However, the common route into many of these schemes involves starting in an entry level role or undertaking an internship and building your expertise.

If you have more experience

With more experience, your network becomes increasingly important. Many of the senior roles within the sector are likely to be recruited via networks or headhunters and search firms. Therefore, it’s important to maintain your contacts and build your LSE network, eg, through LinkedIn. Senior roles are also advertised on industry-specific websites.

If you’re changing career

People can move into this sector using existing experience, eg,. a lateral move from working in sales in another sector to working in sales within hospitality. As the industry values experience and knowledge, you would be expected to gain relevant experience and work your way up.

Where can I find out more about working in this sector?

Interested in finding out more about a career in ‘leisure’?

Here are some helpful links, including the ways LSE Careers can work with you on your journey.



Jobs and opportunities

  • CareerHub – jobs board targeting LSE students, including events and networking opportunities.
  • UK Sport – aids in the development of sport within the UK, includes a job board, news and events.
  • AEO – Association of Events Organisers provides job vacancies and networking opportunities.
  • Leisure Jobs – search for leisure jobs across the world.
  • Local Government Jobs – search for roles related to leisure within local government.


If you’d like to discuss your options in this sector, or chat through your current plans, please book an appointment with an LSE Careers Consultant.