CIMSPA professional standards – glossary 

What is a professional standard?

A professional standard is a documented framework to which any training and education can align itself to. It defines the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to perform certain tasks. Most commonly, this will be in relation to a job role (e.g. coaching assistant); an environment (e.g. in schools); a population (e.g. children) or an industry requirement (e.g. safeguarding).

All sport and physical activity sector professional standards are employer and expert led and facilitated by CIMSPA.

Training and education that is successfully aligned to a professional standard may be endorsed by CIMSPA – the sector’s chartered professional body.

CIMSPA Professional Standards Matrix

The CIMSPA Professional Standards Matrix outlines occupations and job roles within the sector, by defining what knowledge and skills an individual must understand and demonstrate to undertake a particular role.


Occupation is a concept broader than a job role or job title. It explains the entire range of jobs that a number of similar job roles would be a part of. For example:

  • Occupation: Gym Instructor
  • Job roles within this occupation: Fitness instructor, fitness motivator, gym supervisor

Job Role

A job role is a description about a job/position held and gives a brief idea of what the job is about. Job roles are used as a means of distinguishing between and categorising the various positions in an organisation. 

A job role consists of an occupation plus one or more specialisms. 

Knowledge, skills and behaviours

  • Knowledge – what an individual needs to KNOW and UNDERSTAND for their job role.
  • Skills – what an individual needs to be able to DEMONSTRATE for their job role.
  • Behaviour - the professional values, qualities and characteristics an individual needs to demonstrate within a job role. 

Population specialism

Who an individual performing a job role will typically be working with. 

For example this may include: 

  • Children and young people
  • Older adults
  • People with disabilities

Environment specialism

Where an individual performing a job role will be working. For example:

  • A fitness facility
  • A school
  • The community 

Technical specialism

What specific expertise an individual may acquire in addition to a job role. For example this may be:

  • Sports such as football, badminton or parkour
  • Exercise referral
  • Injury rehabilitation