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By outward appearances, professional sports cheerleaders have a glamorous profession. They get to attend sporting events, meet famous players, and cheer or dance in front of a roaring crowd. The reality is a bit different: Cheerleading is hard work and is physically demanding. Additionally, cheerleaders have to follow strict rules regarding behavior and appearance, and adhere to appropriate conduct guidelines. The average NBA or NFL cheerleader's salary is notoriously low, and most professional cheerleaders work a second job to make ends meet.
NFL Cheerleader Job Description
Though being an NFL cheerleader is a part-time job, cheerleaders can expect to spend about eight hours rehearsing each week during the NFL season, plus eight hours for cheering at each home game. Cheerleaders also attend public appearances and charity events on behalf of their squad and team. Other duties can include attending community outreach occasions and corporate events. Cheerleaders also take part in photo shoots and autograph signings.
Different teams have different requirements, but all teams expect cheerleaders to act and appear in a manner befitting the sports franchise. There are guidelines regarding fraternizing with the players and dressing appropriately, as well as what a cheerleader can and can't do in public. NFL cheerleaders are required to adhere to physical standards, with guidelines for weight and appearance. Even though they are expected to look beautiful, clothing, makeup and audition fees are an out-of-pocket expense not covered in the NFL cheerleader salary.
NFL Cheerleaders' Pay
Being a professional sports cheerleader isn't a job for anyone expecting high pay. Wages differ, depending on the franchise, and a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader's salary can differ from, say, an Eagles cheerleader salary.
The different sports franchises are vague about what they pay their cheerleaders. League averages are between $75 and $100 per game, with a $50 fee for other public appearance. Whether or not cheerleaders earn wages for training and rehearsals depends on the franchise.
Though the wages vary dependent on franchise, most NFL cheerleaders can earn at least minimum wage. The average NFL cheerleader salary ranges between $9 and $15 per hour for rehearsals, adding up to approximately $3,000 to $3,500 each season. Being part of a famous team doesn’t necessarily garner a rate of pay, either. Though the franchise is tight-lipped about earnings, the average Dallas Cowboys cheerleader's salary is rumored to be about $150 per game.
What Is an NBA Dancer's Salary?
Things don’t fare much differently in the NBA, either. The average NBA dancer salary is also notoriously low, and the aforementioned Dallas Cowboys cheerleader salary might seem like hitting the lottery in comparison. NBA franchises are also very quiet about what their cheerleaders earn, but the average NBA dancer salary can average to less than $100 per match, though some cheerleaders can receive up to $150 per match. The NBA dancer salary can also include the minimum wage for practices and a stipend for public appearances.
- Fast Company: NFL Cheerleader Pay: This Super Bowl Let's Remember the Wage Gap
- CheatSheet: How Much NFL Cheerleaders Make Each Season
- ESPN: Why Are NFL and NBA Cheerleaders Barely Making Minimum Wage?
- Working Mother: How Much Do Professional Cheerleaders Make?
- Cosmopolitan: What it's Really Like to be an NFL Cheerleader?
- Chron: NBA Cheerleader Payscale
- NBA.com NBA Cheerleader FAQs
- Payscale: The NFL Cheerleader Wage Theft War
Deb Ng is a freelance writer and published author with over 17 years of experience in creating content for the web. Prior to her freelance career, she worked for over 12 years in traditional (print) publishing. Specializing in job search techniques, Deb also founded a blog and job board to assist freelancers and telecommuters in landing their dream jobs.