Gymnasts are known for defying gravity and creating magic with their bodies. These professional athletes also are known for their shiny leotards, pointed toes and complicated routines that they perform on uneven bars or balance beams. While some can make big bucks through competitions, others earn a salary by performing or holding down full- or part-time jobs. It’s a lot of hard work, but they can have an exciting and rewarding career. Gymnasts' salaries vary by their work setting and location.
Some have been able to leverage their talent into careers in the spotlight like Cirque du Soleil that offers one- or two-year contracts, as well as heath benefits. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the May 2013 national earnings for professional athletes in performance arts estimated at $75,980. Professional athletes in the 10th percentile earned an estimated $18,630 and the 50th percentile earned $39,050 annually. The estimates only captured professional athletes, which include gymnasts, on an employer’s payroll. Others can make a living by coaching other potentials and earn an annual median wage of $80,620 for colleges and universities, the bureau reports. Rene Lyst, who holds a bachelor’s degree and has 12 years of experience, is the co-head coach for Arizona State University’s women's gymnastics program, earning $135,000 annually, reports FOX Sports.
Gabby Douglas, the 16-year-old gymnast who became the first African American to win the all-around competition and Olympic gold took home a cash prize of $25,000. According to CNN Money, she stands to make between $1 and $3 million a year in high-profile corporate sponsorships and endorsements like Kellogg’s. Typically, gymnasts will not make it to this level, but there are still opportunities on the international and national stage to compete for brand recognition, cash prizes and awards. For the International Champions Challenge, the prize pool awarded $35,000 for gymnasts who ranked in the top 10, the champion received $10,000, and the highest-ranking received $2,500, according to USA Gymnastics. The USA Gymnastics National Championships, sponsored by Procter & Gamble, offers the top competitors another opportunity to gain sponsors' attention, which can lead to big payoffs.
The BLS reported that the Illinois region had the highest average mean wage of $123,440 for these professionals, followed by Oklahoma at $123,080. The lowest-paying place was the West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Boynton Beach, Florida metropolitan area, at $38,590 followed by Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, at $45,390.