Entertainment and Sports Salary

Salary Overview

The salaries of entertainers and athletes are highly unpredictable and vary depending on the level of success and visibility. Professional athletes, for example, can make many millions of dollars over the course of their career if employed by one of the high profile professional athletics associations or leagues. Likewise, entertainers who find success on a large scale will take in a salary very different from, say, the director of a local theater production who regularly works a second job to maintain a high quality of life. In terms of specific numbers, the highest paid athletes based on annual salary are Formula One racecar drivers and Major League Baseball players. Kimi Raikkonen, a driver for Ferrari, made $51m annually between 2007 and 2009. Fernando Alonso, a driver for McLaren, made $40m annually between 2007 and 2010. In the high-priced world of American sports, baseball players Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixiera and CC Sabathia, who all play for the New York Yankees, will make between $20m and $23m a piece in 2010. Entry level sports professionals in smaller leagues may make salaries below $20,000 a year, making it necessary to obtain a second job.*

Successful Hollywood actors and actresses, as well as successful musicians, enjoy the same lucrative salaries seen in the world of professional sports. The highest paid male and female acting professionals based on 2009 salary were, respectively, Will Smith at $80m and Cameron Diaz at $50m. Oprah Winfrey, a television star of international success, made roughly $385m in 2009 between her many successful ventures. The highest earning male singer in 2009 was Bruce Springsteen, who claimed roughly $70 million that year. Madonna and Celine Dion each made over $100 million in 2009. Similar to the realm of professional sports, singers and entertainers who do not make it big are likely to struggle to make a living. There are outlets for both entertainment and sports professionals who obtain degrees or certification that can provide steady, livable employment outside the extremes of stardom and starvation.*

*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/

Job Description and Outlook

The job outlook for sports and entertainment professionals is good for the indefinite future at all levels. Professionals who have been trained to support athletic and entertainment ventures can expect employment for as long as there is money to be made in the movies, music and sports. Many professionals who have been trained in sports professions can work as trainers, managers, agents and nutritionists. Sports professionals cover a broad spectrum of employment, ranging from gyms to physical therapy offices to high school teaching positions where they also serve as coach. Acting and music professionals can find work teaching as well, or may be better suited for small, consistent productions where they are employed full-time. Musicians may be able to find employment composing music for advertising agencies, traveling with the company of a touring show, teaching private lessons or playing with a symphony orchestra. Actors are also capable of getting on with a touring show, although it is more likely they will make a good living working locally in different productions where they can become established as a staple in the local theater community.*

*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/

Training and Education Requirements

Training and education requirements for professionals in athletics or entertainment vary greatly depending on the position desired and the level of skill involved. There is really no education or training necessary for actors and actresses, although most have been part of an arts-based education program in either high school or college. Many college-educated actors and actresses got their breaks through the networks available to their teachers or others in the theater department. Athletes are similarly free from traditional educational qualifications as they may relate to a professional sports career, however many athletes who play in college do not go on to play sports professionally. Athletes who obtain college degrees in other sports-related fields may go on to work as physical therapists, sports agents or managers, coaches or teaching professionals. Essentially, the potential for job placement without becoming extremely successful beforehand will depend on the level of education required and the skills one presents for their desired position.


Entertainers who look to teach their specialty and athletes who wish to become coaches may be subject to requirements in the form of certifications and training. Coaches, in particular, can obtain licensure and certification through regional and national coaching organizations that are viewed as an accurate measure of qualifications. Entertainers may become certified through guilds associated with their trade, though membership in a guild is considered more of a fellowship than a certification. Teachers in most regions are required to obtain a minimum of a professional degree in addition to becoming certified as capable teachers for their function and level.

Professional Associations

Many professional associations exist in the fields of athletics and entertainment that help to separate individuals into categories related to their current or past affiliation. Professional sports leagues such as Major League Baseball and the National Football League each have Players Associations through which the players may present any grievances or wishes to the union and the head of the league. Actors are also presented opportunities to join unions and associations through which they can take action against policy they disdain.

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