If you have always made it a tradition to announce sports in your own home, you might find sports broadcasting to be the perfect occupation for you to pursue. While it’s a very competitive field, it can be a great job for individuals who have a passion for sports as well as strong public speaking skills and a determination to compete. It’s also highly lucrative: The most famous football commentators earn millions of dollars per year. If you would like to learn about the earning potential for broadcasters and announcers in sports, read on and see what you need to know.
What Does a Sports Broadcaster Do?
Sports broadcasters provide commentary for live sporting events. You’ve probably heard them speaking excitedly over dramatic plays or debating rules and regulations when there’s a question over a foul.
This isn’t their only job, however. A little-known fact about sports announcing is that their responsibilities can range from on-air hosting to behind-the-scenes reading, writing and researching. This is especially true when it comes to high profile professionals like ESPN commentators who carry entire broadcasts on their backs.
So what are the total job duties of sports announcers? For starters, many host pre-game shows and give post-game analysis in addition to providing live commentary. They might also recap the game for local newscasts or cover its highlights in reels, playback and news segments. They might work for a single platform, like TNT NBA announcers, or they might freelance for multiple stations or media outlets.
Depending on their seniority, sports announcers might be consulted for their opinions on players, leagues, regulations and the sport itself.
What Is It Like To Be a Sports Anchor?
The most famous sports announcers can be found on channels like ESPN, CBS, NBC and Fox Sports. These are the announcers who make big money and become well-known figures for roundtables and highlight reels. Some sports announcers have even gone down in history for their commentary during major game moments.
Other sports broadcasters stay local or small-time. They might also have niche positions such as golf channel commentators. Jobs can be found through TV, radio, podcasts, live stream platforms and more.
It isn’t easy to be a sports broadcaster. The competition is fierce, and the job itself is difficult. You’ll need a blazing passion for sports as well as finely-developed technical skills in communications, journalism and media production. You might need to learn how to work with a variety of audio and visual equipment.
Depending on the specifics of their job, sports announcers may be required to travel often and work odd hours. NASCAR announcers, for example, should be prepared to make yearly treks to the Daytona 500. Boxing commentators should expect their calendars to revolve around matches held in the US and abroad.
Understanding the Difference Between Salary Highs and Lows
If you’re wondering how much a broadcast sports announcer makes, the answer could surprise you. It’s a lucrative field with many opportunities for advancement, and as your experience grows, so does your earning potential. High-profile Super Bowl commentators can earn millions for their work.
Before you start dreaming of piles of money, however, you should know that most sports announcers never reach the “rich and famous” stage. It’s a field with many amateurs who are trying to make it big, and that competition means extra difficulty in getting noticed, securing gigs and leveraging for higher pay. For all of the Monday Night Football commentators that you see on television, there are dozens more broadcasting from their basements with their own equipment.
Another thing anyone who is pursuing a role as a broadcaster needs to understand is that there are highs and lows you have to consider when you are comparing salaries of announcers and broadcasters. If your idea of sports broadcasting is holding a position announcing major league games on big television networks like ESPN and TNT, you need to consider the alternative. New broadcasters, and even a majority of experienced announcers, will never make it to the major leagues.
That does not mean that there is not money to be made in broadcasting. It simply means that you may not earn the big money that the upper 10 percentile does. Whether you’re looking at the salaries of UFC commentators or NBA announcers, you should consider both averages and the ranges reported in the field as you are comparing your opportunities.
What Are Salary Ranges and Averages for Sports Announcers Throughout the Nation?
Learning that the highest-paid major network sports announcers make around $5 million annually is enough to drive anyone to do what they love to do. Famous names like Marv Albert and Al Michaels have a net worth of more than $20 million.
While these numbers are accurate, however, they’re far from the average salary of $41,800 reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The national average salary reported in the field includes both the lower-paid professionals and the upper echelon of professionals in announcing. In other words, your local football announcers are included in the data along with CBS football announcers.
Excluding the highest-paid announcers, the range of salaries reported by professional sports broadcasters is between $18,824 and $75,754 per year.
The good news is that jobs are available in more than just top networks. You don’t have to compete with ESPN announcers for work. You may be able to find positions with colleges, minor league clubs, sports arenas, high schools, colleges and more.
What Does it Take to Become a Sports Commentator?
If you are sure that you are ready to compete in a highly competitive field, it is time to complete a formal education degree program so that you can enter this industry and gain attention.
To become a sports announcer, you will need to have a degree in a relevant field. You can start by getting a bachelor’s degree before advancing up the educational ladder and earning a master’s degree.
As for what degree to pursue, you’ll have several options. Broadcasting is common, and so is communications. Other possibilities include journalism, multimedia, public relations and sports management.
Your classes will revolve around topics pertaining to broadcasting. This could include everything from public speaking to learning how to operate audio and visual equipment. You can also take electives in business, finance, management and other areas that will give you marketable skills for future employment.
If you have a specific goal in mind, such as entering the arena of Fox NFL commentators, you can look at the qualifications of current Fox football announcers to see what will be expected of you.
Gaining Experience as a Sportscaster
Sports announcing is a bit different than other jobs. Your resume matters much less than your performance in the box. This is one of the reasons why it’s critically important to gain experience before you expect to join a roundtable with NBA commentators.
On the high school and college level, you can write for student newspapers, interview players and coaches, blog about local sporting events and seek internships with newscasts and radio stations.
On the professional level, you can apply for entry-level jobs in broadcasting. These might include assisting producers or working as a newbie radio host or DJ. As you work your way up, you can try reaching out to established channels and seeing if they need any new football or golf commentators.
One of the keys to success as a sports announcer is gaining attention from both local and national stations. Be aware of the fact that you must get a reputation in announcing to advance.
Alternatives to Sports
While you might dream of joining the ranks of NFL commentators or UFC announcers, these aren’t the only options available to people who love sports. There are many other careers that will let you live and breathe sports while also utilizing your skills in business, communication, journalism and media production.
If you become a sports analyst, for example, your job will be virtually identical to announcers and broadcasters. You just won’t be providing live commentary during games.
You can also become a force behind the scenes for your favorite news channel or media outlet. These employers are always looking for fresh faces in producing, directing and copywriting, and it isn’t uncommon to get your foot in the door with an entry-level position before applying for bigger jobs like Golf Channel announcers.
If you have any other marketable skills, there’s probably a demand for them in the sports industry as well. Sports accountants do financial work. Sports marketers handle things like contracts, merchandise and public relations for athletes.
Sunday Night Football announcers might be the most famous in the field, but if you’re willing to expand your horizons, you can find many other career opportunities for sports fans.
Sports announcers can bring both education and entertainment to sporting events. Listeners and viewers rely on the skills of the announcer to stay engaged in the game, and commentary can also help educate them on plays, fouls, rules and player histories. Sports announcers can also help advertisers by promoting specific products and services, and the end result can be a highly-paid and highly-regarded position with a major network.
Now that you know how much a broadcast sports announcer makes, start studying and practicing in class or in front of a mirror. When it’s your time to shine, you’ll be ready!