Encourage employees to achieve their full potential.

Many athletic, fitness and recreation facility operators manage lower-level employees who are themselves management material. They have years of valuable practical experience on the job and are familiar with protocols and equipment management. But they may not have the proper certification, education or other training to be properly prepared for the management aspects of a career in the industry. Be sure to encourage your employees to follow these tips to help them achieve their full potential:

Earn a bachelor's degree. In order to even be considered for a management position at a legitimate facility, you must have at least a bachelor's degree in some type of fitness-related area, including exercise science or recreation and leisure studies. In today's competitive marketplace, that is a fundamental key to obtaining a management position. While asking employees (many of whom are full-time) to return to school may be a large request, there are a number of online and distance-learning programs in these fields that are cost-effective and allow employees to keep their current hours. Several universities, including American Public University, offer online education options with sports-management and business-training courses that qualify lower-level staff for management positions.

Get certified. Most personal trainers and others who work at fitness and athletic facilities already have at least a base level of certification. But those who do not should take steps to do so before they become eligible for a management-level position. Some certification programs, like the one offered through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, are only open to individuals with bachelor's degrees.

Expand education to include business skills. Some of your employees may already have both a bachelor's degree and proper certification. Is there anything else they can do? If they haven't had any formal business training, it would be important for them to take some business classes - particularly in accounting, management and human resources - or even earn an MBA. A master's degree in sports management is also a great option, and many such programs offer business courses as part of the curriculum. Any exposure to practical business practices will make your employees more attractive candidates for management positions.