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Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects Openings 5 years to 2016-17 -- Sportspersons: 5 000 < 10 000
Salary Range Median weekly earnings: $951 to 1150 (Source: DEEWR Australian Jobs 2012:
Brief Jockeys combine their love of sport and their affinity for horses in their paid work. There are approximately 50 jockeys working in South Australia, and although nearly more than two thirds of them are male, females are increasingly showing an interest in this occupation. Most jockeys are employed full-time and are mainly employed in the Arts and Recreation industry. Majority of jockeys in South Australia are in the 18-24 years age group.

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Taking their directions from horse trainers, jockeys ride racehorses during track work, barrier trials and race meetings on behalf of horse owners and trainers.

Being a jockey may involve getting up at around 3.30 in the morning, six days a week, and head off to the track to work with up to 18 horses. A jockey usually spend about five hours riding and working the horses. Jockeys also discuss with the trainer about the horses' performance and report anything that may have affected this, such as any injuries. They also discuss race tactics.

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Education Requirements

If you are interested in becoming a registered jockey you will first have to apply for an apprenticeship in Racing (Jockey). At the completion of the apprenticeship, jockeys become self employed and must work with racehorse trainers and owners.

TAFE SA offers the Certificate III in Racing (Trackrider) and the Certificate IV in Racing (Jockey).
SA Apprenticeships are available in this occupation for further information go to the Traineeship & Apprenticeship Services Website at or phone the Freecall number 1800 673 097.

Career Path

Becoming a successful jockey is a combination of practice, natural ability and a desire to succeed. While the industry has endured tough times in recent years, there has traditionally been a steady, ongoing demand for well trained jockeys.

A large number of jockeys go on to become horse trainers later in their careers.


Cultural and Recreational Services


Being female and having to contend with the view that you're 'physically-weaker' than your male colleagues, is no reason not to become a jockey. Not according to Alana Sansom, a senior jockey from Western Australia.''When I first started my apprenticeship I did get given a hard time by the male jockeys because there weren't many girls around. But when they knew that I wasn't going to put up with anything, we all just got on with it. Just because females are considered to be physically weaker, it's no reason to back off. If you want something badly enough you can get it, even if people tell you otherwise. You just have to beat the critics mentally,'' says Alana with steely determination. The 24-year-old jockey, who tips the scales at just 50 kilograms, is in her final year of the three-year Jockey Apprenticeship. To counter some of the criticism surrounding a female's strength she has worked out regularly using an Equicizer. The manually-operated mechanical horse is used by jockeys to help increase their strength and riding skill. Alana makes no attempt to hide how physically and mentally demanding her job choice has been. Alana, along with other jockeys and senior people in the industry, says that to succeed in this line of work you must be totally committed and focused.''You have to be really self motivated, which can be hard sometimes, especially when there's been a really quiet spell and you haven't had many wins for a while. There are also the early starts to cope with, and the physical demands of riding up to twelve horses every morning during track work. Then there's the yard work. We have to feed the horses, clean the yard, and then go off and do track work. It's not just about getting on a horse and riding in races,'' she says. And what about those races? For Alana, there have been lots of wins to boast about in her relatively short riding career.''I've ridden in well over 2,000 races and I've won about 115 of them. I've also had a couple of trebles (ridden three winners in the one day) during the Saturday races. But my most memorable race was the Cox Stakes in 2000. It's the lead up race to the Perth Cup and is only held once a year. I was riding 'Old Money' and came first! It was an unbelievable feeling.''

Nature of the Job

Jockeys also participate in trial days, where practice races are held before a true race. No bets are placed during trial days. Trials are used to improve the fitness and racing manners of the horses and to help apprentice jockeys learn to ride in race conditions. Even on race days there's enough time for jockeys to do some track work, a good way to psych themselves and the horses up for a race. Jockeys must be able to maintain their weight within a tight range. Before each race a jockey must weigh in. Their saddle and other race gear, together with the jockey's body weight must be equal to the weight allocated to the horse they are going to ride. After weighing in, the saddles are handed to the trainer or stablehand who looks after the saddling up of the racehorses while the jockeys do some last minute homework.

Typical Physical Working Environment

Registered jockeys are not required to clean stables or yards. This was done by apprentices who must feed and groom racehorses, and clean yards and stables in addition to riding the horses during track work or races. Apprentice jockeys compete alongside qualified jockeys, but they are given a weight allowance, which can reduce the weight a horse carries by up to three kilograms. Jockeys can work long hours. The work is physically demanding and the days start very early. They will tell you that determination and dedication are essential if you're planning to get involved in this line of work.

Typical Occupational Example

However, as to be expected, not everything goes according to plan on race day and jockeys need to change their tactics accordingly. How often a jockey gets chosen to ride on race day will depend largely on their track record and the relationships they have developed with trainers and horse owners.

Earning Potential

Apprentice and registered jockeys receive a $90 riding fee plus 5 per cent of any prize money the horse they ride may win for being placed in a race.

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online