As a player, he was a defender from 1993 to 2008, notably playing his entire career for Rotherham United, bar a brief loan spell with Burton Albion in his final year as a player. After retiring from the playing side of the sport in 2008 he became joint manager of Ilkeston Town along with former teammate Rob Scott. The pair later took over Boston United before joining Grimsby in 2011. Hurst holds a UEFA 'A' Coaching Licence.
Hurst figured regularly on the left side of the back four and in this position he performed well. He played over 430 games for Rotherham United.
He was in the team that were the champions of the Football League Trophy in April 1996, which resulted in a 2–1 win against Shrewsbury Town, at the Wembley Stadium.
On 6 March 2004 Hurst scored a consolation on 74 minutes in the 1–2 defeat at home to Bradford City, a chipped free-kick over the wall found Hurst to fire home. Hurst signed a new two-year contract in 2004 keeping him at Millmoor until the summer of 2006.
FourFourTwo magazine decided before the 2007–08 season, that they would sponsor a player from every team within the top four divisions in England. Hurst was the player they chose for Rotherham United.
On 15 February, Hurst joined Conference National side Burton Albion on a one-month loan to regain his fitness after injury and extended for a second month.
He was released by Rotherham after 15 years at the club, at the end of the 2007–08 season. Hurst stated that he wants to return to Rotherham as part of the backroom staff in the future. Hurst had a trial at Mansfield Town.
Hurst and former Rotherham teammate Rob Scott were appointed joint managers of Northern Premier League outfit Ilkeston Town in January 2009. The pair led Ilkeston from ninth in the league to second, and ultimately promotion to Conference North via the play-offs. Afterwards, uncertainty surrounded whether or not they would remain at the helm of the Derbyshire club due to the club's worrying financial position.
In May 2009 Rob Scott and Hurst moved to York Street to sign as joint managers of Boston United. In their first season at United they gained a second successive promotion to the Conference North with a win in the play-off final, this was to complete a treble of trophies as they had already collected the Northern Premier League Challenge Cup and Lincolnshire Senior Cup.
On 22 March 2011, both Hurst and Scott resigned from Boston and the following morning they were both announced as the new management team of Grimsby Town, replacing the sacked Neil Woods.
Grimsby who had suffered relegation from the Football League in the previous season had hoped for an instant return but following a mid-season slump that led to the sacking of the previous manager, Hurst and Scott could only manage to salvage an 11th place spot come the end of the 2010–11 campaign. During the summer months the duo bolstered Grimsby's ranks in order for a promotion push but were hit by a blow as previous season's top scorer and player of the year Alan Connell left to join Swindon Town. The eventual signing of Liam Hearn was a more than suitable replacement as he scored 32 times during the 2011–12 season, a year which saw The Mariners slide away out of the contention of a play-off spot in the final few months of the season. Grimsby, like the year previously finished 11th in the Conference National.
The 2012–13 season started slowly, but by Christmas Grimsby were top of the league and leading a closely contested pack of Newport County, Wrexham and Forest Green Rovers. On 6 January 2013 speculation about the pairs future at Blundell Park came into light when rumours circulated a potential move to Football League One side Doncaster Rovers surfaced. Rovers who had lost manager Dean Saunders earlier that day to Wolverhampton Wanderers were rumoured to have placed Scott and Hurst on their managerial shortlist. The rumour was quashed the following day with Hurst saying that the pair were focused on earning promotion with Grimsby. Grimsby went on to reach the final of the FA Trophy but were defeated on a penalty shootout after drawing 1-1 with Wrexham at Wembley Stadium. The Mariners also despite leading the Conference for part of the season had dropped off towards the end of the year and had to settle for 4th place, eventually losing to Newport County in the play-off semi finals.
On 6 September 2013 Scott was suspended amongst circumstances not released by the club, leaving Hurst in sole charge. On 19 September 2013 Grimsby confirmed Scott had been sacked for gross misconduct and that Hurst would remain in sole permanent charge. On 7 January 2014 Hurst signed an improved deal reflecting the fact that he was now sole manager.
Hurst oversaw an overhaul of players in the 2014–15 season, in his first full season in charge as a manager, signing 7 players on free transfers, along with a total of 10 players on short term (4) and long term (6) loans. Grimsby started the season fairly average reaching 11th position with 15 games played, but with much improvement they ended the campaign in third place, six points behind Conference National champions Barnet.
Hurst clinched promotion with Grimsby in their 3–1 victory over Forest Green Rovers in the 2016 National League play-off Final at Wembley, seeing Grimsby promoted to League Two after a six-year absence from the Football League.
Hurst made his League Two managerial debut with the club on 6 August 2016 in the opening game of the 2016–17 season in Grimsby's 2–0 home victory against Morecambe, the performance lead to Hurst winning the Sky Bet EFL team manager of the week.
On 24 October 2016, Shrewsbury Town announced that Hurst and Chris Doig were to take over the manager and assistant manager roles at the club following the departure of Micky Mellon to Tranmere Rovers. Hurst was selected from a field of over 100 candidates, and tasked with steering the club clear from the relegation places, with them sitting bottom of the League One table. His first match in charge was a 1−1 draw away at Southend United, ending a run of four consecutive defeats. A week later, Hurst picked up his first victory as Shrewsbury manager, defeating League Two side Barnet 3−0 in the FA Cup first round at New Meadow in his second game in charge. A point earned in a 1−1 draw away at Swindon Town lifted the club out of the League One relegation places, albeit on goal difference only, for the first time since Hurst was appointed, on 7 January 2017. Shrewsbury finished the campaign in 18th place, three places and two points clear of the final relegation place occupied by local rivals Port Vale.
In summer 2008, he graduated from Staffordshire University with a degree in Professional Sports Writing and Broadcasting.
Hurst worked for Rotherham United's Community Sports Trust as Participation Officer.
Hurst completed his UEFA A football coaching licence in January 2014, which is widely regarded as one of the highest qualifications in the game. He is married to Melanie and has a daughter Millie and a son Zack.As of 16 September 2017
Football League Trophy Champions (1): 1995–96
Third Division Runner-up (1): 1999–00
Second Division Runner-up (1): 2000–01
Northern Premier League Runner-up (1): 2008–09
Northern Premier League Play-offs Winners (1): 2008–09
Lincolnshire Senior Cup (1): 2009–10
Northern Premier League Play-offs Winners (1): 2009–10
Lincolnshire Senior Cup (2): 2011–12, 2012–13
FA Trophy : Runners-up, 2012–13
National League Play-offs Winners (1): 2015–16
FA Trophy : Runners-up, 2015–16
Conference Premier Manager of the Month (3): January 2012, November 2013, October 2014, March 2015
National League Manager of the Month (1): November 2015
Sky Bet EFL: Team of the Week (1): August 2016