Jockeys ride thoroughbred horses in professional competitions. Jockeys must become familiar with the horses they ride on a regular basis and often are part of their training. A jockey contracts with the horse's owner or trainer and may ride as many as 10 horses in a single day.

A jockey usually specializes in a specific type of racing, such as steeplechase, jump racing, or thoroughbred racing. The jockey learns the horse's strengths and weaknesses and works with the trainer to develop a strategy for each race. In addition to receiving a mount fee for riding the horse, jockeys usually receive a percentage of the purse if the horse is one of the top three finishers in a race. In quarterhorse and obstacle racing, the horses are guided by riders. Drivers sit in special carts in harness racing, using the reins to steer their horses to victory. There are approximately 1,500 professional jockeys employed in the United States.

Next Section: History

Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) Drivers
Duties Work with horse trainers to learn their horse's strengths and weaknesses and develop racing strategies; ride their horse in races throughout the season
Salary Range Below $25,000 to $100,000+
Work Environment Primarily Outdoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Opportunities exist in all regions, with high demand in the Southeast
Minimum Education Level
  • High School Diploma
  • Some Postsecondary Training
School Subjects
  • Agriculture
  • Biology
  • Physical Education
Experience Three to five years of experience with horses
Personality Traits
  • Athletic
  • Hands On
  • Realistic
  • Business Management
  • Coaching/Physical Training
  • Leadership
Certification or Licensing Required
Special Requirements Must be at least 16 years old; must meet physical requirements
Employment Prospects Poor
Advancement Prospects Fair
Outlook Decline
Career Ladder
  • Consultant
  • Jockey
  • Exercise Rider
  • Groomer
  • Hot Walker

Related Industries

Career Update Newsletter

Tips and tools to help you manage your ideal career.