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The salary of a major league baseball scout depends on many factors, including experience, area of responsibility, level of competition being scouted, travel requirements and the team or scouting bureau for which a scout works. Each major league team has its own scouting structure, from an executive-level post, usually the director of scouting, to national, regional and area scouts. International scouts also are employed. Salaries vary widely, including unpaid scouts.
National Salary Averages
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median salary of $32,270 for professional coaches and scouts in the United States, based on 2017 data. The 25th to 75th percentile pay range is $22,180 to $51,010 a year. The 10th percentile salary is $18,670 and the 90th percentile figure is $75,400. These figures take into account both full-time and part-time positions.
MLB Team Scouts
Each MLB team employs its own scouts. Scouts may be talent scouts or advance scouts. Talent scouts seek out and judge baseball talent at all levels of competition, from high school to the professional minor leagues. Advance scouts watch other major league teams and provide reports to their own teams. Advance scouts typically scout their own team’s next opponent and provide pitching, batting, fielding evaluations and other information. Talent scouts generally watch amateur, high school and college players, evaluating them for the purposes of signing them to professional contracts or drafting them. They also attend special showcase events and tryout camps held across the country. Salary ranges vary for MLB scouts based on skill, experience and a scout’s track record of discovering talented players. MLB scouts evaluate talent in high schools and colleges, in foreign countries like Japan, Mexico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.
MLB Scouting Bureau
The MLB Scouting Bureau is run by the commissioner’s office and employs 34 full-time scouts and 13 part-time scouts across the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada. The major focus of the scouting bureau is evaluating talent for MLB’s annual June draft, in which amateur players – high school, college and international players – are chosen by the 30 MLB teams. Scouts utilize standardized forms to evaluate players’ skills, such as speed, arm strength, fielding ability, batting mechanics, power and intangibles like maturity and game presence. Videotape and radar guns are used extensively in evaluations, and each MLB team receives the same reports for all players evaluated.
Associate scouts, sometimes called “bird dogs” by their more-experienced colleagues, are unpaid scouts. They’re usually attached to a single MLB team and typically are people trying to get their feet in the door to becoming MLB scouts. Most have baseball experience, either as players, coaches or both. They may have a relatively small region to cover, such as a metropolitan area, or they may be responsible for scouting several states. Teams may reimburse associate scouts for travel and lodging expenses, and many bird dogs work with paid, experienced scouts.
Experience & Duties
Most MLB scouts have baseball experience as a player or coach. Some have major league experience; most have at least minor league or college experience as a player. Some are ex-coaches or managers who are well-versed in evaluating talent. The MLB Scouting Bureau provides its own school for its scouts and many private, for-fee scouting schools exist to teach aspiring scouts the intricacies of scouting. Many scouts have personal services contracts with MLB teams, usually with teams for whom they played or coached. Their duties often encompass more than strictly scouting, and they usually are compensated much more than most in-the-field scouts.