Jockeys are professional athletes who ride horses in competitive races. Not only do they need to have a high level of athleticism, they also need lots of knowledge and experience with horses. This is a fast-paced career that can be difficult to break into, but also highly rewarding.
If you’re competitive and dedicated, prepared to put in lots of hard work, and love working with animals and in the outdoors, becoming a Jockey could be a career to consider.
- High level of physical fitness
- Resilient and dedicated
- Love horses and the outdoors
- Willing to work long hours
- Great communicator
- Tough under pressure
- Competitive and driven
- Can meet age and weight requirements
- Competing in racing trials and events
- Working with trainers to decide on strategies
- Discussing a horse’s performance post-race
- Maintaining a high level of fitness
- Attending practice sessions and training
- Adhering to strict racing rules and regulations
- Maintaining riding equipment
- Undertaking promotional activities
Lifestyle Impact: High
- Part Time opportunities: Moderate – around 30% of Jockeys work part-time (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
- Average hours for full-time workers: 49 hours a week, which is above average (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
- Jockeys’ salary (median) $27,000* per year (source: ato.gov.au). *Salaries will vary depending on how many races you compete in and where you position.
- Future career growth: Stable (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
- Being of short stature can be an advantage, and you will be required to meet strict weight requirements.
- You will be expected to maintain a high level of fitness and health throughout your career.
- This is a highly competitive career and you’ll need to perform well to earn lots of money.
Jockeys are most in demand in these locations:
Jockeys can work anywhere there are racing tracks, and will often tour to different locations to compete in races. Jockeys typically work in the Arts and Recreation Services industry.
How to become a Jockey
To become a Jockey, you’ll need to complete an apprenticeship in your State or Territory. This is a comprehensive program that involves riding training, vocational education, stablehand work, and other development and training.
Step 1 – Complete Year 12 with a focus on English and Maths.
Step 2 – Try to get experience working with and riding horses if possible. Also consider undertaking a traineeship as a stablehand or trackrider.
Step 3 – Apply for an Apprentice Jockey Training Program in your State or Territory, usually through your State or Territory’s racing organisation. The program is usually 4 years in length.
Step 4 – Once you finish your apprenticeship and have ridden in a minimum number of barrier trials, you can obtain a license and become a fully qualified Jockey.
Step 5 – Keep up with personal and professional development throughout your career as a Jockey.
Find out more here –
Similar Careers to Jockey
Find out more about alternative careers.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What do Jockeys do?
Jockeys work with and ride horses in competitive races. A typical day might involve getting up early to perform warm-up exercises with your horse, then preparing for a race meet. After a race you might meet with your coach or trainer to discuss the horse’s performance and next steps.
Which industries employ Jockeys?
Jockeys are mostly employed in the Arts and Recreation Services industry.
What’s involved in my apprenticeship?
While you’re an apprentice jockey, you will be assigned to a licensed trainer and learn all about the industry. You’ll undertake both theoretical and practical learning, as well as undertaking stablehand work and caring for horses. You will also learn about sporting integrity, professional and personal development, and even business and media skills.
Do I need to go to university to become a Jockey?
No, but you will need to complete a comprehensive apprenticeship program and obtain a license.
What if I change my mind or don’t make it as a Jockey?
Even if you don’t end up becoming a Jockey, the skills you gain through your apprenticeship will prepare you for a variety of other careers working with horses and athletes, such as becoming a horse trainer, stable owner, horse breeder, track official, or even fitness coach.
What are 3 things I can do right now to help me become a Jockey?
If you’re in high school and you’d like to find out if a career as a Jockey is right for you, here’s a few things you could do right now:
- Get as much hands-on experience with horses as you can. Volunteer with a local track or club, take riding lessons, and ensure you have the right temperament to work with horses.
- Build on your physical fitness and ensure you will be able to meet height and weight requirements.
- Talk to a Jockey to see what a day in their life is like. If you don’t know anyone, see if you can watch videos or documentaries about the role.