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Sports professional

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

Annual Salary


Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

44 to 46 variable

You could work: evenings / weekends / bank holidays; away from home

Future employment

There will be 0.5% more Sports professional jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks


  • 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 physically and emotionally demanding, outdoors in all weathers, you'll travel often and you may spend nights away from home.

You can get into this job through:

  • an apprenticeship
  • amateur sport where you could be spotted by a talent scout
  • a sponsorship or scholarship scheme

The Sporting Excellence Professional, advanced apprenticeship is available in the following sports:

  • cricket
  • football
  • rugby league
  • rugby union

The apprenticeship gives talented amateur sports players the chance to develop their sporting talent alongside their education.

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

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

For more information
Other routes

The route to becoming a professional varies from sport to sport.

Typically you'll start by joining a club, academy or amateur organisation where you can train and get coaching.

Most sports professionals are spotted early on by talent scouts at this stage.

In some sports you may be able to get financial help to develop your sporting talent as well as to continue your general education.

You can find out more about different schemes through Sport England.

Your chosen sport's National Governing Body (NGB) is the best place to get more information on the way to get ahead in your sport.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

  • 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
  • For all professional sport you'll need determination, talent and a high level of fitness.

More information

Career tips

Some professional sports careers can be quite short, so it's useful to have plans for what you will do when you can no longer play or compete.

Further information

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

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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 and broadcasting; sports centre work

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

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • persistence and determination
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • physical fitness and endurance
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
  • leadership skills
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • concentration skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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