Professional Sports Athlete Career Info

Find out the facts about living a career as a professional sports athlete. Learn about the many requirements, in addition to the benefits that may first spring to mind.

View popular schools

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Kinesiology and Exercise Science
  • Physical Education and Health
  • Sport and Fitness Management
  • Sports Medicine

Career Definition for a Professional Sports Athlete

Professional sports athletes compete in sporting events that serve as entertainment for spectators. Some sports are team-oriented, such as basketball, football, baseball and soccer while other sports, like tennis and golf, are focused more on individual performers. In addition to competing in sporting events, athletes must practice their sport and participate in extensive physical conditioning and training in order to stay competitive. Some top professional sports athletes also endorse products and make public appearances.

Education None required, but athletes are typically discovered competing in high school and college sports; study in exercise, training and nutrition will be required
Job Skills Competitive mindset, excellent hand-eye coordination, great motor skills, superior physical fitness, and dedication to training
Median Salary (May 2015)* $44,680 (all athletes and sports competitors)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% (all athletes and sports competitors)

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Required Education

No specific education level is required to be a professional sports athlete, but they are often discovered while competing in high school or college games. Most athletes learn about their sport and improve their athletic skills in school. It is a good idea for people interested in professional sports athletics to study weight training, nutrition and exercise selection.

Skills Required

Professional sports athletes need to have a competitive mindset, excellent hand-eye coordination, great motor skills, and a high level of physical fitness. They should also be able to deal with difficult physical and mental conditions and have to be able to maintain a high level of concentration and discipline while training and competing.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), the median salary for athletes and sports competitors was $44,680 annually as of May 2015, but top earners can make exponentially more than that. The number of jobs available for athletes and sports competitors, including professional athletes, is expected to increase as fast as the average in the coming years (six percent between 2014-2024, according to the BLS), and competition for professional positions will be extremely fierce. Professional sports athletes must be among the best performers at their chosen sports to remain employed, and they often have brief careers. There is also the potential for a serious career-ending injury at any time.

Alternate Career Options

Some related careers include:

Coach and Scout

Usually needing a bachelor's degree, these professionals teach skills to professional or amateur athletes and often travel to attend sporting events. As fast as average employment growth of 6% was projected from 2014-2024 by the BLS. The annual median salary for coaches and scouts was $31,000 in 2015; hours may be irregular, with duties and pay only lasting through specific seasons.

Fitness Trainer and Instructor

Training requirements for these jobs vary widely but include a mandatory high school diploma and often encompass various types of training and certifications to enable instructors and trainers to instruct people of all types in exercise and strength training. Average job growth of 8% was anticipated by the BLS from 2014-2024, and a median wage of $36,160 per year was reported in 2015.

Next: View Schools

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma of GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

    • Master of Professional Studies in Sports Industry Management

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Master of Science in Sports Analytics Management
    • Master of Science in Healthcare Management

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
    • Master of Science in Health Informatics

    What is your highest level of education?

    • MSHS in Health Care Quality
    • Graduate Certificate in Health Care Quality

    What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • MSE: Exercise Science
    • MBA - Sports Management and Recreation
    • MBA - Healthcare Management

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Transitional Doctorate of Physical Therapy
    • MBA in Health Care Management
    • MS in Healthcare Administration
    • Online Master of Science in Health Care Administration - Acute Care
    • Online Master of Science in Health Care Administration - Long Term Care
    • Online Master of Science in Health Care Administration - Service Organization

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    • M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Sports Business
    • MBA: Health Systems Management
    • MS in Health Care Administration
    • Master of Public Administration - Health Care Management
    • BS in Sports Management
    • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care
    • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science
    • BS in Health Care Administration
    • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science with an Emphasis in Trauma

    What is your highest level of education?

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?