- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2011 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), accessed March 2012.
- New Zealand Institute of Sport website, accessed August 2011, (www.nzis.co.nz).
- Sport New Zealand website, accessed August 2011, (www.sportnz.co.nz).
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Professional SportspersonAlternative titles
This job is sometimes referred to as:
- Harness Driver
Professional sportspeople take part in competitive national and international sports such as rugby, cricket, golf, horse racing, and tennis, or may be employed as lifeguards.
Contact usCall us on 0800 222 733
What are the chances of getting a job?
Team sports with professional leagues offer the greatest amount of paid, full-time opportunities.
Opportunities may also be better for lifeguards, who work professionally at swimming pools and beaches, as well as competing in surf lifesaving events.
Number of professional sportspeople increasing
The number of professional sportspeople fluctuates regularly due to changes in sports funding and seasonal sports cycles. However, it has been gradually increasing – from 2,192 in 2003 to 2,945 in 2011. This is due to the growth of domestic netball and rugby competitions, and increased government funding for Olympic sports.
Though opportunities for professional sportspeople in New Zealand have increased, jobs are still limited because:
- few professional sports leagues exist in New Zealand
- government funding is limited
- competition for positions is extremely high.
Consequently, most paid sportspeople are semi-professional, earning some money from sport, and working a second job to make a living.
Career as a professional sportsperson may be short
Professional sportspeople tend to have a limited amount of time in their career. For example, the average career in rugby lasts about five years due to the physical nature of the sport. Careers in less physically intensive sports, such as golf and horse racing, are usually longer.
Types of employers varied
Professional sportspeople may be:
- employed by professional sports teams or leagues
- self-employed, and earn a living from a combination of competition prize money, scholarships and sponsorship deals.
Sports that employ significant numbers of professional sportspeople in teams or leagues include:
Sportspeople who participate in Olympic sports are also more likely to be semi-professional, as some of these sports receive targeted funding from government.
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Other vacancy websites
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- Sport New Zealand website - Sport sector job vacancies
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- Search4Jobs - View Search4Jobs' sporting jobs
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- Drake International - Search job vacancies at Drake International
- Enterprise Recruitment - Search job vacancies at Enterprise Recruitment
- Jobseeker - Search many vacancy sites at once with Jobseeker
- Work and Income New Zealand - Search Work and Income job vacancies
Progression and specialisations
Professional sportspeople follow a variety of paths when they retire from professional sport. Many go on to unrelated work, though others stay in the sports and recreation industry working as coaches, sports managers, administrators or commentators.
Professional sportspeople usually specialise in a particular sport, such as rugby, rugby league, tennis or cricket. Other specialisations include:
- Footballers play as part of a team in football competitions or tournaments.
- Golfers compete for money and prizes in golf tournaments. They may also act as a resident professional in golf schools and clubs.
- Harness Driver
- Harness drivers drive a horse from a sulky (a light cart), which is towed behind the horse in harness races.
- Jockeys ride racehorses at race meetings, trial meetings, jump outs and for track work.
- Lifeguards are responsible for the safety of people at swimming pools and beaches. They may also educate the public on water safety.
How many people are doing this job?
Job vacancies by region
Updated 4 Apr 2013