Sport, Fitness & Recreation

Professional Athlete

Professional athletes make a living by participating in sporting events and competing in sporting competitions.

  • Entry-level education

    Junior secondary school certificate or equivalent

  • Job outlook

    1 2 3 4 5

What does a Professional Athlete do?

Professional athletes make a living by participating in sporting events and competing in sporting competitions, either individually, or as part of a sporting team.

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Work activities

As a professional athlete, you would:

  • maintain a high level of skill and dedication in your chosen sport
  • attend individual or group practice sessions on a regular basis
  • undertake additional private training as necessary to maintain or improve skills
  • participate in scheduled matches and competitions
  • coach other individuals or teams
  • undertake publicity and promotional activities.
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Key skills and interests

To become a professional athlete, you would need:

  • a superior level of natural talent and competency in your chosen sport
  • discipline and dedication
  • excellent physical fitness
  • good communication skills for publicity and promotional aspects of your job
  • preparedness to travel and to work on evenings and weekends.
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Working hours and conditions

Working Hours

Professional athletes work irregular hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. You might work more than 40 hours per week for several months during the sports season, and then have extended breaks from scheduled matches outside of the main sports season.

Conditions

Professional athletes travel frequently to sporting events, both locally, nationally and sometimes internationally. You are likely to need a current drivers' licence.

Most athletes compete as unpaid amateur sportspeople until they reach a sufficiently high level to be offered payment as a professional.

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How to become an Professional Athlete?

Entry Level Education

You can work as a professional athlete without formal qualifications. The essential components are natural talent and a high level of expertise in your chosen sport, combined with the dedication and enthusiasm to work continually on improving your skill level through training and coaching.

Some states have specialist sports high schools, which combine traditional school subjects with coaching and competition in a wide range of sports. Many sports codes also offer traineeships to promising elite sportspeople. Sportspeople often study courses in sports-related areas such as sports science, coaching or human movement studies, but these are not a requirement for employment as a professional athlete.

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Job outlook

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Employment of professional athletes is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations.

Rising participation in sport at high school and in the community generally, as well as the growing interest in professional sport, and an increasing number of codes developing women's as well as men's teams, are likely to increase demand for professional athletes.

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