Alternative titles for this job include Track and field athlete

Athletes compete in track and field events for their clubs, with some going on to represent their country at international level.

Average salary (a year)


Typical hours (a week)

Variable variable

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays away from home

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become Athlete

You can get into this career through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • a sports development programme


You can apply to do a course at university in the usual way through UCAS and join your university’s athletics performance programme, where one is available.

You may be able to apply for a university sports scholarship, if you’ve competed at club, regional or national level and have shown the potential to go further.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

More Information


You could apply to do a sports related apprenticeship, which would allow you to develop your athletics career while gaining skills to work in the sport and leisure industry.

Apprenticeships include:

  • Community Activator Coach Level 2 Intermediate Apprenticeship
  • Community Sport and Health Officer Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship

Entry requirements

To get onto an apprenticeship, you'll find it useful to have:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

More Information

Other Routes

The first step to becoming a professional athlete is to join an athletics club. You would work with qualified coaches to develop your skills and compete at a level appropriate to your age and stage of development.

There are several athletics programmes that support individuals to achieve their potential.

The Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme allows you to study for a qualification at college or university, while you continue your sporting development. You must be 16 or over, and be performing at a high level. You are nominated for a place by UK Athletics, the national governing body.

You may be able to join the Para Academy, if you have the potential to compete at national and international paralympic level.

England Athletics has more information on pathways from junior and youth programmes through to senior and world class levels.

More Information

Career tips

You are likely to travel a lot to compete in athletics events, including overseas for international championships.

Further information

You can get more details about how to become an athlete from British Athletics and UK Athletics.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • physical fitness and endurance
  • persistence and determination
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to monitor your own performance and that of your colleagues
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

As an athlete, you could:

  • take part in indoor and outdoor training sessions and exercise routines
  • practise running, throwing or jumping drills
  • build up your strength and conditioning in the gym
  • identify and work on areas for improvement with your coach
  • take part in trials and competitions
  • travel to athletics events, including overseas for international championships
  • do promotional and media activities for your club or country

Working environment

You could work on a sports field or at a sports arena.

Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers, physically and emotionally demanding and you may spend nights away from home.

You may need to wear a sports kit.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

You could move into coaching with athletics clubs, colleges and universities. Your skills and experience would also be useful for a career in community sports development or sports management.

You might wish to take further training to become a:

You may also have opportunities for sports media work.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Apprentice Community Activator Coach

  • Wage: £9,984 a year Annually
  • Location: Sunderland

Sport Coach Apprenticeship

  • Wage: £9,984 a year Annually
  • Location: 2nd Floor, 26 Goodge Street, London

Courses In England

Are you interested in becoming an Athlete?

Search for training courses near you.

Jobs In the United Kingdom

The Find a job service can help you with your search for jobs and send alerts when new jobs become available.

Skills assessment

Take an assessment to learn more about your skills and the careers that might suit you.

Is this page useful?

Yes No

Thank you for your feedback.

Thank you for your feedback. Click here if you'd like to let us know how we can improve the service.