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What Can You Do With A Sports Science Degree?

What can you do with a sports science degree

‘What can you do with a sports science degree?’ is one of the first questions people ask when deciding whether or not it’s the right course for them. With our guide, though, we’ll help you make that decision.

In this article, we’ll cover:

Before we get started, did you know that you could get your dream job in fitness without the need for a degree by studying a personal training course?

Enquire about our Level 3 Personal Trainer course here or download our course prospectus for information on all of the health and fitness courses that you can study with us.

Sports Science Degree Jobs in the UK

What can you do with a sports science degree

With such a wide range of career options available to sports science graduates, it can be difficult to decide which is best suited to you and your goals. 

From health advisor to exercise psychologist, there are plenty of sports science degree careers to choose from. Each of these jobs have a wide variety of:

  • Working environments
  • Schedules
  • Clientele
  • Working hours

We’ll break down these careers below, and explain any additional experience or qualifications that you’ll need, so you can settle on the perfect one for you!

#1 - Personal Trainer 

What can you do with a sports science degree

Average hourly rate: £24.85

sports science degree careers

Becoming a personal trainer is a logical step for many sports science graduates. It’s directly relevant to what you’ll have already studied, it’s a great way to apply those studies practically, and the starting salary is higher than many other roles available to sports science graduates.

The usual roles and responsibilities of a personal trainer can vary, but they typically include:

  • Conducting fitness assessments with new clients
  • Carrying out 1-on-1 training sessions
  • Tailoring programmes to clients needs and goals
  • Monitoring progress
  • Offering nutrition and lifestyle advice
  • Attracting and retaining clients

For this career option, you’ll need:

You can achieve both of these qualifications by studying a personal training diploma with OriGym

These courses cover many similar topics to that of a Sports Science degree, which means that as a Sports Science graduate, completing these qualifications would be a walk in the park.

However, as we’ve already touched on, you don’t necessarily need a degree to become a PT. 

In fact, you can become a personal trainer with a fraction of the time, money, and effort that it would take to get a degree, as you can see from this advert for a PT in Sandbach:

careers using a sports sci degree

How much can I earn?

On average, personal trainers earn around £27,000 a year, however, figures on Payscale show that PTs can earn upto £86,000 a year

This is largely because if you become a PT, your salary will be significantly impacted by the career path that you choose. I.e. whether you:

  • Work as an employee for a gym
  • Work on a freelance basis
  • Start your own business 

Working as an employee for a gym such as PureGym or David Lloyd means you’ll be on a fixed wage, and will likely take on an existing client base. 

The below screenshot should give you an indication of how much these positions pay: 

sports science degree

The stability that comes with having a guaranteed income and set of clients makes this a popular choice for newly qualified personal trainers. However, if you want to be earning above that average salary, this isn’t the best option.

According to Prospects, freelancer personal trainers in some areas of the UK can earn upto £100.

sports science degree

This is based on the hourly rate you charge, which depends on:

  • Your experience in the industry 
  • Where you are based (PTs charge more in major cities like London) 
  • What qualifications you have

This is obviously an attractive income, however, working as a freelancer means that your wages will depend on how many clients you train and how often you train them, so you’ll need to know how to get personal training clients and keep them happy!

The final option is to become self-employed or start your own PT business, which comes with the most amount of freedom as well as an unlimited earning potential.

This involves a lot of work, which makes it more of a long term sports science degree career goal rather than something you can pursue right after graduating.

That said, with the right experience in the industry, you’ll develop the knowledge needed to understand the industry, market a business, and earn a lot of money.

#2 - Sports Scientist

what can you do with a sports science degree

Average salary: £34,112

sports science degree jobs

While this may seem like an obvious choice, becoming a sports scientist can make for a very rewarding career. Using their knowledge of how the body works, sports scientists help people improve their health or sporting ability.

Day to day tasks include:

  • Offer advice on the design and manufacture of sports equipment
  • Work with doctors to help people improve their health through exercise
  • Work with sports coaches and sports therapists to improve the performance of individuals and teams
  • Take part in research projects

Working environments include:

  • Private hospitals
  • NHS
  • Research facilities
  • Sports field
  • Offices
  • Client's business
  • Fitness centre

You can also find work in schools, colleges, and universities. There is also the opportunity to become a self-employed sports scientist, offering your services at your own prices. However, this is best done when you've gained plenty of experience in the industry.

The most popular route to become a sports scientist is through a university course. You'll need a degree in sports science or in a related subject, followed by a postgraduate qualification in sports science.

Relevant undergraduate degrees are:

  • Psychology
  • Biology
  • Physical Education
  • Physiology

How much can I earn?

Careerpilot gives a broad salary range for a sports scientist, stating they can earn anywhere between £18,000 and £60,000, with an average of £30,378 in 2019. 

sports science degree

However, these figures are entirely dependent on experience and location. Work environment is also a major factor in regards to earnings.

As highlighted above, Glassdoor provides an average salary of £34,394. It's likely this would be after progression or experience in the industry. If we take the lower end of the salary range from Careerpilot, a sports scientist at entry level can expect to earn between £18,000 to £20,000.

#3 - Sports Coach

What can you do with a sports science degree

Average salary: £21,905

sports science degree careers

One of the more common answers to ‘what career can you do with a sports science degree?’ is to become a sports coach. This is a varied career where you can choose to coach adults or children across a range of settings and sports.

You’ll help people achieve their full potential when participating in sports, working closely with professionals or amateurs to help them improve performance. 

Sports coaches are responsible for training athletes by:

  • Analyzing their performance
  • Providing encouragement
  • Helping clients to develop their abilities  

They must also maintain motivation and generate enthusiasm. Coaches also should complete a Strength and Conditioning Course to support clients and athletes to achieve maximum fitness performance.

Completing an S&C course teaches you how to perform a range of tasks relevant to this role, including:

  • The definition and history of strength and conditioning 
  • Performing postural assessments on clients
  • Preparation and planning based on the individual factors of athletes, including training frequency and exercise selection.
  • The purpose and importance of strength and conditioning for athletes
  • Deliveirng fitness testing protocols, including squat tests and shuttle run tests

This knowledge will make you a better sports coach, helping clients see greater results and making you a more attractive candidate when applying for jobs.

You can specialise in a range of sports, such as: 

  • Football
  • Rugby
  • Cricket
  • Athletics
  • Aquatics
  • Boxing

Depending on the sport you opt for, as well as your level of expertise with your chosen area, you could work in places such as:

  • Nurseries
  • Schools
  • Leisure centres
  • With sports teams
  • Colleges
  • Universities
  • Academies

For example, you could work in a school setting, coaching children during extra curricular sports classes, or holding after school sports clubs.

Working with children and helping them to grow more confident in their abilities can be incredibly rewarding - it’s a great career for anybody who is health conscious and enthusiastic about helping others.

However, this particular area of sports coaching isn’t for everyone, as many of the jobs, such as this one at Koala Klubs, are part time and hours are often during school holidays or on weekends. 

sports science careers

It’s also worth mentioning that you will need an Enhanced DBS check to work with children. This allows employers to check a person’s record for any past criminal convictions that could jeopardize the safety of the people they are working with.

How much can I earn?

The various capacities in which you can work as a sports coach makes it difficult to suggest an exact average income.

As you might expect, private companies, sports teams, or academies will likely pay significantly more than a school or another facility run by a local authority.

Figures available on Prospectus suggest that you can expect to earn a starting salary of anywhere between £15,000 and £25,000 if you work for local authorities, or around £10 an hour working with amatuer athletes.  

Prospectus also claims that senior or experienced coaches have an earning potential of over £100,000 a year.

#4 - Teaching

what can you do with a sports science degree

Average salary: £26,968

sports science degree career

After graduating with a degree in sport science, you may decide to pursue a career teaching Physical Education (PE). 

Here’s how Careers in Sport define the role of a PE Teacher:

“A PE teacher is responsible for planning, teaching and tutoring students in a school setting. They teach a range of different sports and provide young people with an opportunity to develop and improve their social and physical skills.”

Thanks to the appealing pay structure and the fact that teachers are in high demand, this is an extremely attractive career prospect for many sports science graduates. 

Other benefits of becoming a PE teacher include:

  • Paid time off during school holidays
  • Regular shift pattern
  • It’s rewarding
  • Weekends and evenings off work
  • Plenty of room for progression 

To do this, you’ll need to have achieved Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) as well as your Sports Science degree. 

There’s multiple different routes to get your qualified teacher status, including:

  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)
  • School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT)
  • Teaching First Route

PGCE courses don’t require a specific subject as an entry requirement, which is why this is the most popular route for sports science graduates wanting to go into teaching. 

If teaching older students interests you more, becoming a Sports Lecturer may be the role for you. Many lecturers of sports have degrees in sports science and may have a PhD in this subject too.

However, many lecturers also have previous teaching experience. This means you could gain experience teaching in a high school or sixth form and then continue your own studies in higher education.

How much can I earn?

As a newly qualified PE teacher, you can expect to earn anywhere from £23,500 (according to Jobted), with the average UK PE teacher earning around £32,000.

One of the best things about teaching is that there are multiple avenues for progression. For example, you could work your way up to head of department or head of year. 

Although you’ll need at least 2 - 3 years experience in the school before you’ll be considered for a role of this nature, Totaljobs report that a Head of Department earns an average of £39,501 - so it’s definitely worth putting the work in. 

According to Prospects, salaries for higher education lecturers range from around £33,797 to £49,553 depending on the university and your experience.

At senior lecturer level, this can increase to between £39,152 and £59,135.

 

Enquire to Become a Personal Trainer

Start a new and exciting career as a Personal Trainer today!


#5 - Sports Nutritionist

what can you do with sports science degree

Average salary: £25,000

sports science degree careers

If you want to help athletes and the general public achieve their health goals, why not consider a career as a sports nutritionist? 

This varied role includes:

  • Creating and delivering diet plans
  • Assessing and delivering scientific nutritional advice
  • Supporting individuals, workforces, and communities to make positive lifestyle changes
  • Promoting nutritional advice via the press, website content, and webinars
  • Write reports and publish papers

While some nutritionists can work in the health service and dietetics department, only a registered dietitian can lead the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions.

Nutritionists often work within local authority public health teams and community settings, focusing primarily on health promotion. 

You can usually carry out work in both the private and public sectors in non-clinical settings such as:

  • Local authorities
  • Educational and research institutions
  • The NHS
  • Sports organisations
  • Overseas aid and health charities
  • The media
  • As a consultant in a freelance capacity

Now, a sports nutritionist should not be confused with a dietitian. These are people who are registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) and have completed a HCPC-approved subject in dietetics, an undergraduate degree, or an approved postgraduate course.

what can I do with a sports science degree

Despite what you might think, you don’t need a degree to work as a sports nutritionist. 

Much like becoming a personal trainer, you could land a job as a nutrition coach by completing a vocational qualification, such as OriGym’s Level 4 Advanced Sports Nutrition course.

This course provides students with a knowledge of specialist diets, as well as helping them understand the legislation behind nutritional information and the relationship between nutrition and physical activity.

How much can I earn?

The average salary for a nutritionist in the UK is around £22-25k per annum. However, these figures are often based on the public sector, starting salaries, and fail to consider the multiple ways in which you can earn a salary, such as:

  • Working in the private sector (rather than public sector roles)
  • Working as a freelancer (and setting your own prices!)
  • Progressing to a senior role
  • Starting your own business 

For example, whilst the salary of an NHS Nutritionist is fixed and ultimately determined by the UK Government, those working for a private company, such as a sports team, are paid a much more competitive salary.  

This job advert for a performance nutritionist at Brighton & Hove Albion football club shows that, in the private sector, salary is determined by skills and experience.

sports science degree

This suggests that the more relevant qualifications or experience you have, the more the employer is willing to pay.

With regard to being a nutritionist on a freelance or self-employed basis, the potential salary truly is unlimited. This is because you are essentially running your own business, enabling you to:

  • Set your own rates
  • Work as many (or little) hours as you like
  • Choose what services you offer

The ability to choose what services you offer and how much you charge for them is one of the reasons why many personal trainers combine the role of a nutritionist alongside their personal training as an additional source of income. 

Offering nutrition services to personal training clients is an effective way to supplement the services they PTs already offer to clients. 

Having this advanced knowledge of nutrition not only improves the service that the client receives, but it also allows the PT to charge more for a specialist service.

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If you’re enjoying this article, here’s some more to help you decide on a career:

#6 - Sports Therapist

what can you do with sports science degree

Average entry salary: £17,000

sports science degree career

If you studied a degree in Sports Science and Therapy, it’s likely you’ll want to go into this area of the industry. 

As a sports therapist, you will:

  • Provide treatment
  • Rehabilitation
  • Support clients 
  • Give advice on the prevention of injuries

When sport and exercise-related injuries occur, you’ll provide immediate response and rehabilitate the patient back to their previous levels of fitness. You’ll also offer support and advice to stop these injuries happening again.

Patients can be of any age, from adults to children who are involved in sport either at a professional level or simply amateur or recreational purposes.

Sports therapists often work in sports injury clinics or directly with a sports club or individuals, both amateur and professional.

How much can I earn?

As outlined above, starting salaries for sports therapy jobs start at around £17,000, moving up to around £28,000 with experience.

As with many of the other jobs that you can do with a sports science degree, sports therapists working in the private sector typically earn above these averages.

Here’s an example of a private sector job offering upto £49,766!

sports science careers

Plan It reports that full-time sports therapist roles in the private sector, such as working for professional teams, pay anywhere from £28,000 to £35,000 a year. 

They go on to suggest that self-employed sports therapists can make an hourly rate anywhere between £25 and £45. 

If you’re interested in pursuing a career related to sports therapy without going to University, have you ever considered completing a Level 3 Sports Massage Therapy Course?

Becoming a sports massage therapist would allow you to:

  • Deliver sports massage therapies
  • Help decrease muscle soreness, aches and pains
  • Aid injury management 
  • Aid rehabilitation

Other qualifications such as Level 4 Lower Back Pain Management can also be beneficial and make you a more desirable candidate in this field. 

Even if you have already graduated, completing this kind of qualification is still beneficial as it shows employers that you have continued educating yourself past graduation.

#7 - Sports Centre Manager

career sports science degree

Average salary: £24,021

what can you do sports science degree

Becoming a sports centre manager means combining an interest in sport with business acumen and great people skills. They can also be known as health club or leisure club managers.

A fitness centre manager will usually work in a club or centre that contains a gym or one of the following:

  • Sports hall or court
  • Spa, sauna, or therapy centre
  • Swimming pool
  • Leisure centres

While this may not be the first answer to your question regarding ‘what career can you do with a sports science degree’, it's a great job if you’re looking for something business orientated that still allows you to take an interest in sport.

Typically, sports centre managers work between 35 and 40 hours per week, which can include working weekends, evenings, and bank holidays.

Responsibilities for this job cover areas such as:

  • Marketing the facility
  • Publicising special events
  • Managing staff
  • Dealing with the fitness provision and health and safety
  • Handle complaints and incidents
  • Manage maintenance, repairs, insurance, and cleaning

You could also find work in private sector businesses and establishments, such as:

  • Private health centres
  • Corporate gyms
  • Hotels, in their on-site fitness facilities
  • Universities

How much can I earn?

Working as a sports centre manager pays between £18,000 and £37,000 (according to the national careers service).

Of course, this salary will depend on:

  • The size of the facility
  • Your experience
  • The qualifications you possess

Wages are also influenced by the type of facility that you work for, i.e. whether it is a:

  • Private or independent studio
  • Health club or chain of gyms
  • Facility run by a local authority 

For example, centre manager roles at a private health club like Nuffield Health will likely pay more than the same role at a small private studio or in a council-run leisure centre.

In order to be eligible for that higher end of the salary range, you will need some experience alongside your degree. Usually, employers will look for individuals with experience working in a similar facility (e.g. as a personal trainer or sales assistant in a gym).

As you can see below, this position available at Proactive Personnel Ltd is offering £27,500, however, the job description does specify that candidates need experience in a similar position.

sports science degree jobs

That’s not to say that you need experience to pursue this career path, though. 

As demonstrated below, there are entry level jobs out there that you can apply for straight out of university.

sports science degree jobs

This role at Edge Hill University would be a great opportunity to get your foot in the door in this industry in a position that would eventually progress to a sports centre manager role.

As you might expect, this position does pay less, but it's a great opportunity regardless.

#8 - Exercise Physiologist

career sports science degree

Average salary: £35,610

sports science degree jobs

If the way the body responds to exercise and training interests you, this could be the career for you! 

Exercise physiologists investigate how people respond and adapt to muscular activity. In this career, you will use your knowledge and skills to improve performance and fitness levels or to help prevent illness.

You can choose to work with athletes and sports teams, or in a more medical setting like a hospital or clinic.

When working with athletes, you’ll usually provide scientific support which may involve monitoring training through the assessment of physical functions such as metabolism and respiration.

Responsibilities may also involve developing fitness training programmes to prepare athletes for competition.

Working in a clinical setting as an exercise physiologist means you’ll provide advice on exercise for people with a range of chronic diseases including:

  • Diabetes
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Coronary heart disease

If you’re interested in the treatment of diabetes, OriGym’s Level 4 Diabetes Control & Weight Management Course could be just the thing to increase your career opportunities in this field!

How much can I earn?

Working as an Exercise Physiologist is one of the most lucrative sports science degree careers that you can pursue with figures from indeed.com suggesting an average base salary of £35,611 per year.

For NHS jobs, the role of an Exercise Physiologist falls into Band 5 of the Agenda for Change scale, meaning salaries start at £25,654. 

Prospects claim that high-profile jobs in this area offer salaries in excess of £60,000, with some posts offering upto £100k a year.

Who Are Some Typical Employers for Sports Science Degree Graduates?

career sports science degree

There are employers in the industry across a range of organisations, which include not-for-profit sectors, as well as public and private work.

Typical employers for sports science degree graduates are:

  • Private health and fitness clubs
  • Local authorities
  • Schools, further education and higher education institutions
  • The health sector
  • Professional sports clubs
  • Spas and public sports recreation facilities

Let’s explore some of the larger employers of sports science degree graduates, as well as how you can apply for the roles they offer.

Companies Hiring Sports Science Degree Graduates

career sports science degree

With high numbers of students graduating each year, getting your dream job in your chosen field isn’t always straightforward. 

However, there are different options available and companies out there who can help you gain experience or work your way up to your preferred role. 

Royal Air Force (RAF)

sports science degree jobs

If you’ve completed university but still have a desire to join the Royal Air Force, you can still do this! The RAF takes applicants from all levels of education, from those with no qualifications to people with postgraduate degrees.

Anyone below the age of 47 can apply for a variety of roles within the Royal Air Force. Roles for those with a sports science degree and an interest in fitness include:

  • Physical training instructor
  • RAF medic
  • Medical support officer (physio).

However, to be accepted into the Royal Air Force, you must take a series of aptitude and fitness tests, including: 

  • Airman/Airwoman Selection Test (AST)
  • RAF Verbal Reasoning Test
  • RAF Numerical Reasoning Test
  • RAF Work Rate Test
  • RAF Spatial Awareness Test
  • RAF Electrical Comprehension Test
  • RAF Mechanical Comprehension Test
  • RAF Memory Test

Upon completion of training, most roles require people to commit to several years of service, and depending on your role, you may be required to relocate to a base of operations.

For these reasons, it’s important to consider if this is what you want to do after graduating. This is why it’s best to give yourself time to gain experience in different areas before committing yourself to a specific RAF role.

The NHS

sports science degree jobs

The NHS is one of the largest employers in the world, and with 1.3 million staff, it’s the biggest in Europe.

According to their website, around 25,000 vacancies are advertised every month in more than 350 careers. There’ll be a job to suit you, whether you want to work directly with patients or behind the scenes.

By working in the NHS, you will join a talented, passionate team of people committed to providing the best care and treatment to patients.

NHS Jobs is their online recruitment service where most NHS organisations advertise their jobs and apprenticeships.

More specialised roles in the NHS such as sports therapists and dietitians usually have specific degrees in these subjects. For example, only qualified physiotherapists can work as sport therapists in the NHS.

Employment in Health Clubs

Given the nature of the services that they offer, private health clubs are also a common employer for sports science graduates. Some popular health clubs include:

  • David Lloyd Leisure
  • Nuffield Health
  • Virgin Active

Let’s discuss each of these individual employers, and how you can find a job with them, in more detail.

David Lloyd Leisure

sports science degree jobs

David Lloyd Leisure is a British multinational sports, health and leisure business that runs health clubs across the UK. As fitness is at the heart of what they do, they offer a range of roles such as personal trainer, fitness managers, and group exercise coordinators.

David Lloyd Clubs are also committed to having one fitness trainer aged 55+ per club by the end of 2022 - great for older fitness enthusiasts or sports science graduates who have taken on a career change.

They hire for a broad range of roles related to sports science, including:

  • Health and fitness coaches
  • Sports massage therapists
  • Group class instructors 
  • Member experience managers
  • Club / gym managers
  • Operations managers

You can find out more about what jobs are available by clicking here.

 

Nuffield Health

sports science degree careers

Nuffield Health is the largest healthcare charity in the UK with the objective to advance, promote and maintain health and healthcare of all descriptions and to prevent, relieve and cure sickness and ill health of any kind. 

You can find work in the areas listed above or check out their job portal here.

Virgin Active

Virgin Active is a chain of health clubs with locations all over the world and more than 1.2 million members. There are 43 clubs across the United Kingdom, with a further 194 in Europe, Asia, Australia, and South Africa.

As you can see in the screenshot below, they hire a range of fitness, health, and exercise professionals:

sports science degree

You can find a range of nutrition, personal training, and exercise-related job vacancies by following this link and filtering jobs by ‘Exercise Experience’.

Sports Teams

sports science degree jobs

Sports teams are often looking for sports science degree graduates to work closely with athletes and treat or prevent injuries occurring. 

Sports science graduates can often be employed through programmes such as community outreach programmes or from placements completed during their times at university.

For example, take a look at this job advertisement posted on Indeed below:

sports science jobs

Or this one for professional football club St Mirren:

sports science degree jobs

Some teams will advertise on their own website, so it’s a great idea to check sports teams in your local area for any vacancies that aren’t advertised on larger jobs boards.

You should also try health and fitness-specific jobs boards for these roles, such as:

 

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FAQ

Should I get work experience?

career sports science degree

If you’re looking to advance your career or expand your opportunities, relevant experience is always valuable to have on your CV. However, this is only beneficial if it is experience that matches the opportunities you’re seeking.

If you’re interested in coaching, try youth sport volunteering at a centre or after school club. There’s also the option to become a running coach if you’d like to get certified and help people this way.

Or you can get experience in a school by teaching P.E. lessons or sport activities. Other experience might include working in the admin or marketing side of a leisure centre, fitness instruction work, or as a pool attendant.

There’s no need to fear if you’re not entirely sure what career you want after graduating with your sports science degree. Many employers and job advertisements require at least a year of experience.

what can I do with a sports science degree 

Working for the sports section of a summer holiday scheme or a holiday camp is a good way to gain relevant experience too. This will usually be seasonal so is ideal if you’re looking to obtain a nice chunk of experience in a relatively short period of time.

You could use this time to build a range of connections and gain experience in different areas of fitness. This will make you more desirable to employers as it highlights a determination to do more than what is required, especially if it was done in your free time.

You can find relevant work experience and internships in your area here.

Before You Go!

Now you know what careers are out there, it’s time to go and find the ideal one for you! While there are lots of factors when it comes to breaking into an industry, knowing what you want to do is the first step in getting there.

Additional qualifications are ideal, especially when searching for your dream role, and completing a personal training course is the best way to set yourself apart from the crowd.

With OriGym’s personal training diploma, you’ll go from no prior experience to a fully qualified personal trainer in as little as 4 weeks, and be fully certified to train clients and design bespoke workout routines. 

Written by James Brady

Fitness Writer & Enthusiast

James graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester. His desire to find a place where he could combine his passion for writing and love of fitness is what brought him to OriGym. He believes his passion for daily exercise, especially running, is imperative in keeping him motivated and productive. As a result, he has a particular interest in the psychology of health and fitness and the relationship between physical and mental health. Outside of work, James enjoys reading, swimming, writing short stories, watching classic movies and has a keen interest in journalism and filmmaking.

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