Discover your career path

Professional Athlete

Participate in professional competitive athletic events.

What does a Professional Athlete do?

Getting plaid to play a sport is every athlete’s dream job. And while this career path is seriously competitive and the lifestyle is demanding, the rewards can be sky-high.

Whether playing in a game, competing in a race, or performing in front of a panel of judges, as a professional athlete, you play to win. To reach your goals, you’ve got to have the three D’s—drive, dedication, and discipline.

To be in top physical condition, you work out all year long—during both competition time and the off-season. You usually practice with your coach or teammates more than 40 hours each week. Off the field, you have other responsibilities like attending team strategy meetings, watching videos of your competition, or attending fundraising events for charities.

Besides being physically fit, professional athletes must also deal with a high level of mental stress. There’s the pressure to perform at the top of your game 24/7, the stress of competition, and the fear of getting injured. Your job may require you to travel across the country to play with a new team or work with a specific trainer—so you’ve got to be okay with constant change.

Professional athletes don’t usually have long careers—the average pro’s career is over by age 33. But if you’re a natural athlete, then you can turn your love of the game into a rewarding job.