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Summary of occupation

Professional sportspeople earn a living through their participation in national or international sporting events. The popularity of a sport in Australia has a large impact on the opportunities available to earn a living from competing. Popular sports, such as Australian Rules football or cricket, provide more opportunities to play professionally then less popular sport, like badminton or lacrosse. In addition to training and competing duties, many professional sportspeople also take part in promotional activities, in the promoting of their sport or their sponsors.

ANZSCO description: Professional sportspeople earn a living through  their participation in national or international sporting events.
Alternative names: Athlete, Professional Sportsperson
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A sportsperson needs:

  • a high level of physical fitness
  • to be able to perform under pressure
  • a high level of dedication and motivation
  • discipline
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Working conditions

Individual working conditions may vary depending on the particular sport, though there are a number of common factors. To keep performing at their peak, sportspeople must stick to a strict training regime, which may include early morning, evenings and weekends, even during their 'off-season'. Those participating in an outdoor sport will train and play in all weather conditions. There can also be a lot of travel involved, with sportspeople regularly having to travel interstate or overseas to compete.

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Salary details

Earnings for sportspeople can vary considerably depending on their level of experience, their negotiated contract, the commercial potential of their sport, and the demand for their talent. As a sportsperson develops their skills and reputation, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

The equipment used by a sportsperson will vary greatly depending on which sport they are competing in. Most professional sportspeople will do at least some training and/or tests with gym equipment, such as weights, treadmills and exercise bikes. In many cases they will also wear a uniform, which may also be specially designed to maximise performance, such as swimsuits that cut down resistance in the water.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

There are no formal requirements to become a professional sportsperson. You must show a high level of expertise and skill in your chosen sport.

Most sportspeople begin playing in their chosen sport at a young age, developing their skills and abilities through years of experience, training and playing. Some educational institutions have special sports programs where students combine traditional school work with specialist training in their chosen sport. Entry to these programs may be dependent on a student's existing ability. 

Sportspeople usually work with a specialist coach to develop their skills and abilities to an elite level.

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.

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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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