How to become an 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 development programme, if one is available.
You may be able to apply to a university for a sports scholarship, if you’ve competed at club, regional or national level and have shown the potential to go further.
You can get advice about combining university study with your athletics career from England Athletics.
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
Apprenticeships relevant to this role include:
- Level 3 Community activator coach
- Level 3 Community sport and health officer
These apprenticeships may give you opportunities to use your sports skills outside of a professional sporting career.
To get onto an apprenticeship, you'll find it useful to have:
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
You may be able to study for a qualification at college or university as part of the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme.
You must be 16 or over, be performing at a high level, and be nominated by your sport's national governing body, UK Athletics.
You can apply to join the Paralympic Development Academy, if you have the potential to perform at national and international paralympic level.
If you're already competing at a high level, you may be offered an opportunity to join the British Athletics Futures Academy Programme. This aims to help exceptionally talented athletes compete at World Championships, and Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Contact your nearest athletics club for information about how to get involved and for details of their athlete development programmes.
Many athletes combine their career in track and field with study or a second job.
You can get more details about how to become an athlete from British Athletics and UK Athletics.