Experienced sports analysts are often highly-visible broadcasting professionals who receive lucrative annual salaries. As with most occupations, many positions for a sports analyst involve more modest compensation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2012 median pay for reporters, correspondents and broadcast news analysts was $37,090 per year. The top 10 percent in this category earned about $78,000, and the bottom 10 percent earned slightly more than $20,000 annually -- the lowest salaries typically represent those for starting positions in the industry.
As reported by the BLS, overall employment for broadcast analysts and reporters is expected to decline by 13 percent during the next 10 years. This is primarily due to shifting economics for news organizations -- decreased demand because of mergers and downsizing. Even though the sports and news divisions are often treated differently within major broadcasting companies, the overall industry continues to undergo significant changes that are difficult to predict with accuracy.
How to Get the Job
Job criteria for an entry-level sports analyst can differ widely. The combination of a bachelor’s degree in journalism or communication and relevant sports experience is often a winning combination to get started in this field. One effective tactic for prospective sports analysts is to seek employment in smaller media markets with a university sports team that is covered by a local television or radio channel.
While many sports analysts work full time, it is not unusual for broadcasting professionals in a small media market to wear several hats -- handling whatever assignment the local station needs to be covered. In the early stages of a career as a sports analyst, the ability to cover multiple sports such as football and basketball is likely to be helpful for future career advancement. Most jobs routinely involve travel and irregular hours.
Top Pay Levels
Any profession has a top tier with compensation that is much higher than average. Sports analysts who are currently at the “top of their game” include Bob Costas, Dan Patrick, Jim Nantz, Joe Buck and Al Michaels -- all are reportedly paid about $5 million per year. However, a recent hiring trend among major broadcasting networks is to hire recently retired athletes as sports analysts. This often results in some unusually high entry-level salaries -- over $1 million in some cases. Those who were not major stars during their playing days typically receive $50,000 to $100,000. While this might not be a traditional career path for becoming a sports analyst, do not overlook the practical possibility if you anticipate spending a few years as a professional athlete on your way to the sports broadcasting hall of fame.