Jobs in Horse Racing: Career Options and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed for a career in horse racing. Get a quick view of the jobs as well as details about training, job duties and licensure to find out if a career in this field is for you.

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Aspiring horse racing professionals have several career fields to choose from in this industry. From veterinary work to gaming management, there are various salaries, contrasting job requirements, and job growth rates depending on the trade. Earning a degree or job training could help you start pursuing the career you've always wanted.

Essential Information

Horse racing encompasses racetrack operation occupations as well as careers that require direct interaction with horses, such as jockey, trainer and track veterinarian. Training and education requirements vary.

Equine Veterinarian Horse Breeder Jockey Animal Trainer Gaming Manager
Education Requirements Master's degree in veterinary medicine No formal education No formal education No formal education Associate's degree
Other Requirements Must pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam Experience in a related occupation Extensive riding experience and typically weigh less than 115 pounds None License
Projected Job Growth (2014 to 2024) 9%* (for all veterinarians) -2%* (for all animal breeders) 6%* (for all athletes and sports competitors) 11%* (for all animal trainers) 1%* (for gaming service workers)
Median Salary (2015) $88,490* (for all veterinarians) $39,380* (for all animal breeders) $44,680* (for all athletes and sports competitors) $26,610* (for all animal trainers) $68,380*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Options

There are a wide variety of jobs in the horse racing industry. Some jobs, such as veterinarian, require extensive education and experience, while others, such as animal breeder, require only some experience and a high school education. Read on to learn about careers in this field.

Equine Veterinarian

Equine veterinarians are employed by racetracks or horse trainers. Track veterinarians perform pre-race inspections to verify if horses are fit to compete. They also care for horses injured on the racetrack premises. More experienced track veterinarians can advance to positions with regulatory commissions, recommending and enforcing veterinary codes for the sport.

Private practitioners hired by horse owners and trainers provide regular healthcare. They typically drive to their clients' stables to diagnose problems, treat injuries or perform surgical procedures. They also consult on feeding, training and breeding issues.

Requirements

Most veterinarians complete a bachelor's degree program to qualify for admission to a veterinary school accredited by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association. All veterinarians must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine graduate degree program to be eligible to take the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam, a requirement of every state licensing board. Additional licensing requirements vary by state.

Salary and Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment of veterinarians, including equine vets, will increase by 9% from 2014 to 2024. In May 2015 veterinarians made a median annual salary of $88,490, according to the BLS.

Horse Breeder

Breeders keep horse genealogies and detailed records of weight, diet and characteristics. They select horses with desirable traits to produce offspring suitable for racing. Breeders raise and care for their horses, and can sell offspring or charge for access to prized studs.

Requirements

There are no strict educational requirements to become a horse breeder. Some accrue knowledge of a specific horse breed by beginning as an apprentice to a breeder. Others complete an animal science bachelor's degree program or take postsecondary courses in animal husbandry, animal physiology and genetics. Those interested in starting their own operation need to make a considerable financial investment in facilities and land.

Salary and Job Outlook

The BLS projects that breeders of all types of animals will decline by about 2% over the 2014-2024 decade. In May 2015, the BLS reported that animal breeders had a median annual salary of $39,380.

Horse Trainer

Trainers oversee care and prepare horses for racing. They typically begin by teaching horses how to respond to commands before progressing to racing exercises. Trainers are often responsible for the day-to-day care of a racehorse and oversee groomers and jockeys.

Requirements

Some colleges and universities offer equine studies or horse training degree programs; however, a formal education is not required. Individuals can begin as a groomer or stableman and learn training techniques on the job.

Salary and Job Outlook

Employment of animal trainers, including horse trainers, is projected to grow about 11% from 2014 to 2024 according to the BLS. In May 2015, the BLS reported that animal trainers had a median annual salary of $26,610.

Horse Jockey

A jockey guides a horse along the racetrack and delivers commands to encourage the horse and keep it in rhythm. Jockeys also participate in training and exercise regimens supervised by the trainer.

Requirements

Jockeys typically weigh less than 115 pounds and have extensive riding experience. Most jockeys begin as stable workers under the supervision of the trainer, helping with grooming and exercise routines.

Salary and Job Outlook

Athletes and sports competitors, including jockeys, earned a median annual salary of $44,680, as of May 2015. The BLS projects that this occupational group will increase by 6% over the 2014-2024 decade.

Racetrack Operations Occupations

Racetracks employ a variety of workers. Track management workers hire and supervise other workers, including track veterinarians and gaming employees. Gaming workers process wagers. Groundskeepers maintain the facility landscaping as well as the racetrack and paddock areas.

Requirements

All racetrack employees must have a license from their state's horse racing commission, which generally requires an application fee and background check. Those in management positions often complete at least an associate's degree program in marketing or business. Other positions are open to high school graduates or those who have passed the GED test.

Salary and Job Outlook

In May 2015, the BLS reported that gaming managers, including those that manage gaming at racetracks, made a median annual salary of $68,380. The BLS projects that this occupational group will increase by 1% over the 2014-2024 decade.

The horse racing industry includes work as a veterinarian, horse breeder, horse trainer, horse jockey, and gaming manager - some of which requires a degree, license, training, or no formal education. While there's a decline in employment opportunities for horse breeders, you can expect to see a job growth increase from 2014 to 2024 for all other related occupations. Job requirements and salary should be taken into consideration when deciding if this is the right career path for you.

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