Sports professional

sports player
Sport and leisure
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Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would use your high level of sporting talent to compete in your chosen sport.

You could choose an individual sport, such as:

  • Athletics
  • Boxing
  • Tennis
  • Snooker
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Horse racing or another equestrian sport

You might instead choose a team sport, such as:

  • Football
  • Cricket
  • Basketball
  • Rugby
  • Hockey or ice hockey

You would:

  • Compete in matches and competitions
  • Improve your skills, fitness and stamina through training
  • Make sure your diet and lifestyle help you to achieve peak performance
  • Take advice from nutritionists, exercise professionals, sports psychologists and doctors

If you became well-known as a sports personality you may also:

  • Give media interviews
  • Promote products by appearing in adverts

Few people in sport are professionals. Most are amateurs, who may compete, but do not make money from their sport.

Working conditions

Hours

Your hours and working conditions would vary depending on your sport, but you would train almost every day. This could be very early in the morning or late in the evening. Competitions and matches usually take place in the evening or at weekends.

Environment

For some sports, training could take place outdoors in all weather conditions.

Travel

As competitions can be in all parts of the UK or abroad, you would spend a lot of time travelling, and could spend long periods away from home.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Listening to people
  • Working as part of a team
  • Following instructions
  • Taking the lead
  • Working on your own
  • Being physically fit

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

Keep track of your skills in your account and find the jobs, opportunities and courses that suit you.

Click here to view / add your skills

Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

There are no formal qualifications required to enter this role but involvement in sports clubs or amateur organisations from an early age is usually important.

Most sports professionals are 'spotted' early on by a talent scout.

Some 'professional' sports courses are available but tend to lead towards coaching roles rather than professional sports jobs.

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Maths
  • Physical education
  • Psychology
  • Sciences, in particular biology/human biology

You will also need

Joining a club or amateur organisation is a good starting point, as you will receive instruction and training.

The minimum age you can turn professional is 16 years of age.

With some sports there may be the opportunity to undertake a modern apprenticeship leading to a work-based qualification.

For some sports you would need to meet very specific entry requirements e.g. horse racing requires jockeys to be a certain height and weight.

In most sports you will be encouraged to carry on training or education in a subject or area different from your sport. This will help you:

  • if you need to supplement your income from sport with another full-time or part-time job
  • if you need another source of income when your performing career is over or if you are not as successful in sport as you hope to be.

There may be bursaries and scholarships available. 

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that show fitness and sporting skills such as Sports Leaders UK Award or Skills for Work Sports & Recreation (SCQF level 4) may also be of value.

Some professional sports careers provide an opportunity to gain relevant work-based qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Achieving Excellence in Sports Performance.