Sports professional

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Sports professionals are skilled and talented sportsmen and sportswomen, who are paid to compete in their chosen sport.

Salary range: Variable

How to become a sports professional

You can get into this job through:

  • an apprenticeship
  • being spotted by a talent scout
  • a sponsorship or scholarship scheme

Apprenticeship

You may be able to start by doing an advanced apprenticeship in sporting excellence (AASE).

Once you’ve completed your apprenticeship, you may turn professional or continue as an amateur while you get more experience.

Apprenticeship training providers set their own entry requirements.

You can find out more from the professional body for your sport.

More information

Other routes

You’ll usually start by joining a club or amateur organisation where you can train and get coaching. A lot of sports professionals are spotted early on by talent scouts at this stage.

You can get details of local clubs and advice on the best way to get ahead in your sport from your sport’s national governing body.

If you have talent and the potential to do well in your chosen sport, you could get help from:

  • sponsorship schemes run by universities that offer support to students to train and compete while studying
  • the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme, which supports young people in education to perform at their best, while keeping up their studies

More information

Career tips

In most sports, you’ll find it useful to carry on with your training or education in case you:

  • need another income apart from your sport
  • need another income for when your performing career is over

Further information

You can get more details on what it takes to become a professional sportsperson from Sport England.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • persistence and determination
  • customer service skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • physical fitness and endurance
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

For some sports you’ll need to meet very specific entry requirements, for instance:

  • horse racing requires jockeys to be a certain height and weight
  • boxing has divisions according to weight

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

You’ll:

  • compete in matches and competitions
  • keep up and improve your skills with regular practice
  • maintain your general fitness and stamina by training
  • make sure your diet and lifestyle help you to achieve peak performance
  • take advice from coaches, nutritionists, exercise professionals, sports psychologists and doctors

Working environment

You could work on a sports field or at a fitness centre.

Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers and you may spend nights away from home.

Career path and progression

In the more physical and contact sports, your career would usually be short. Many professionals finish their sporting career by the age of 35.

After your career ends, you could stay involved in sport by moving into areas like coaching, refereeing, team management, sports journalism or sports centre work.

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