Job type

Sports professional

£16k - £100k

Typical salary

37 – 50

Hours per week

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

More info

  • Be a skilled and talented sportsperson, who is paid to compete in your chosen sport
  • You'll need commitment, self-discipline, dedication & excellent physical fitness
  • Could move into areas like coaching, refereeing, team management or sports journalism

As a sports professional you could take part in, individual sports such as athletics, boxing, tennis, snooker, cycling, golf, horse racing and other equestrian sports or team sports such as football, cricket, basketball, rugby, hockey and ice hockey.


  • 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
  • If you become well-known as a sports personality you might also give media interviews and promote products by appearing in adverts


Few people in sport are professionals. Most are amateurs, who compete at the highest levels, but don't make money from their sport. Many have a full-time or part-time job to supplement their income, and may earn money by coaching or instructing their sport. The most successful sports professionals may earn extra money by advertising products.

Your hours and working conditions will vary depending on your sport, but you'll train almost every day. This could be early in the morning or late in the evening, and for some sports could be outdoors in all weather conditions. Competitions and matches usually take place in the evening or at weekends. You'll spend a lot of time travelling in the UK or overseas, and could spend long periods away from home.

You'll need

To be a sports professional requires commitment, self-discipline and dedication, excellent physical fitness and stamina, and the ability to cope with considerable psychological pressure.

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 and boxing has divisions based on weight.

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.

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 or need another income for when your performing career is over.

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 and the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme, which supports young people in education to perform at their best, while keeping up their studies.

You may also 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.


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.