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Summary of occupation

Jockeys ride horses in races and trials. They usually act as independent professionals, contracting their work to horse owners and trainers. In addition to competing in races, jockeys also provide horses with regular exercise. They must consult with trainers and observe previous horse races to determine the best tactics to use in a race. They must pay consideration to the track to be ridden on, and the strengths and temperament of race horses. They are also required to advise race stewards and trainers of incidents during a race that may have affected a horse's performance, and may have to provide evidence to stewards in cases where it is suspected that rules have been breached.

ANZSCO description: Rides horses in competitive races, race trials, and in exercise. This occupation requires high levels of physical fitness, sporting ability and personal commitment as well as, or in place of, formal qualifications or experience. Registration or licensing is required.
Alternative names:
Specialisations: Apprentice Jockey, Steeplechase Jockey
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A jockey needs:

  • to be physically fit
  • to adhere to strict diet and training regimes
  • good communication skills
  • to enjoy working with horses
  • to be competitive
  • to be able to work both independently and as part of a team.
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Working conditions

Jockeys compete at race tracks all over Australia and the world. In Western Australia, there are tracks in Ascot, Pinjarra, Bunbury, Albany, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie and some other smaller regional locations. They often start work with early morning training sessions and may be required to train and/or compete on weekends and public holidays.

Jockeys must follow a strict diet and personal training program in order to keep their weight at specific levels.

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Salary details

Once qualified, most jockeys work as independent contractors, running their own small business. Earnings will depend on the level of demand for their services, as well as their level of skill and experience.

Both trainees and qualified jockeys receive a riding fee for every race they compete in and are paid five per cent of any prize money won.

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Tools and technologies

When riding horses jockeys use various associated equipment or tack, such as saddles, stirrups and bridles. They are also required to wear a helmet, boots and a protective vest. When racing they may also use a small whip, however, there are strict guidelines governing the use of whips in horse racing in Australia, which jockeys must adhere to in order to avoid causing injury to the horse, or other jockeys.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a jockey you usually need to complete a traineeship. The jockey traineeship takes 48 months to complete.

Jockeys must be at least 15 years old, meet strict weight requirements and pass a medical examination. Once you have completed your traineeship you will need to apply for a Jockey license, issued by Racing and Wagering WA.

In order to compete in races interstate you may need to hold additional licences. Check with the licensing body for the state in which you wish to race, for full details.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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