Program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitness (NOC 5254)

High opportunity occupation

About this job

Program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitness lead and instruct groups and individuals in related programs. People in this job work in community centres, health-care facilities, government departments and correctional institutions. They also work for sports and fitness clubs, resorts and tourism companies, and recreational facilities.

Watch the video below to see what a day in the life of a certified personal trainer is like.


Certified personal trainer

Common job titles
  • appraiser, fitness - certified
  • camp co-ordinator
  • crew member, search and rescue
  • leader, arts / recreation
  • leader, sports / leisure / recreation
  • personal trainer (certified)


Program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitness perform some or all these duties:

  • Plan and carry out recreational, athletic, fitness and sports activities
  • Manage, maintain and repair supplies and sports equipment
  • Explain and coach others in athletic, fitness or sports activities and show them ways to improve these skills
  • Teach groups and individuals in arts, crafts and similar activities and lead recreational or leisure programs
  • Support clients with special needs
  • Provide therapeutic recreational or athletic activities
  • Monitor recreational, sports or fitness activities to make sure they are safe, and provide basic emergency or first aid assistance when needed
  • Make sure that safety rules and regulations are followed
  • Schedule activities and keep records
  • Help to co-ordinate special events with the community, sponsors and others
  • Hire, train, and supervise staff and volunteers
  • Create budgets for equipment (including looking at how long each piece of gear will last)
  • Monitor budgets for financial reporting and controlling of recreation programs and events
  • Develop risk management plans for recreation programs and events
  • Prepare reports

Work environment

People in this job work evenings and weekends on a regular basis. While some of the work takes place indoors in sports and recreational settings, some outdoor work may also be required. Some workers, such as lifeguards, work near or must enter water.

Program leaders and instructors in recreation, sports and fitness spend most of their day working with others and leading classes. Good communication skills are important in this role since program leaders and instructors speak with clients who take classes, play an organized sport or have questions about what is available to them. People in this job may be required to help with community events and to speak with groups or individuals who provide financial or other support for a community centre or other public recreational facility.

Insights from industry

People in this career need to stay up to date in their speciality which could be focussed on seniors, children, general fitness or others. This means learning about new techniques and processes for fitness, sport, recreation as well as health, wellness and nutrition.

Having motivational and leadership skills makes a person with this career in higher demand. Communication, conflict resolution, problem solving and being able to support and mentor others are important skills.

A person in this career needs to have an understanding of current health and safety regulations and to make sure their team follows those.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

People in this job can move into new positions as they gain experience in a range of service areas. This may include a focus on children or youth, seniors, or working in large organizations. Others stay in one service area and can move up in that area by taking on more responsibilities.

Typically, moving into a more senior role means that the person will need to oversee multiple service areas. For example, a recreation centre manager is responsible for all the service areas in the centre (skating, swimming, fitness and so on). While it’s not always necessary to have experience in each of these areas before becoming a manager, it’s useful and may help the person get promoted. In addition, it’s important to learn business skills to move into more senior roles. This can include budgeting, human resources and marketing.

Additional resources