Although they are born with talent, volleyball players who make it to the pros also practice diligently for years, usually beginning in childhood. They must know the game inside and out and accept advice from trusted coaches as to their strengths and weaknesses. While no formal training is required, many professional volleyball players paid their dues playing for years for high school and college teams.
Entry-level salaries of volleyball players in a sample of 10 randomly selected cities all earned under $42,000 per year. At the 10th percentile annual averages as of 2013, according to salary-survey website Salary Expert, were Pierre, South Dakota, $25,514; Miami, $28,549; Houston, $29,947; Augusta, Maine, $30,343; Philadelphia, $31,399; Chicago, $33,800; Walla Walla, Washington, $34,145; Baltimore, $36,415, Washington, D.C., $39,545; and New York, $41,850. There was a difference of $16,336 between the highest and lowest-paying cities in this sample.
The national average for volleyball players, according to Salary Expert, was $39,549, as of 2013, which is $6,398 more than the starting salary, so salaries don't rise significantly for most on the professional circuit. A sample of average salaries for 10 randomly selected cities on the Salary Expert website included Pierre, South Dakota, $31,332; Miami, $35,058; Houston, $36,775; Augusta, Maine, $37,261; Philadelphia, $38,557; Chicago, $41,506; Walla Walla, Washington, $41,929; Baltimore, $44,718; Washington, D.C., $48,561; and New York, $51,391.
Very few players make top dollar. At the end of their professional careers, volleyball players earning more than 90 percent of their peers averaged $59,227 per year. In 10 randomly selected cities earning averages included Pierre, South Dakota. $45,584; Miami, $51,006; Houston, $53,504; Augusta, Maine, $54,211; Philadelphia, $56,096; Chicago, $60,387; Walla Walla, Washington, $61,003; Baltimore, $65,061; Washington, D.C., $70,652; and New York, $74,769. A few top players also earn bonuses and endorsements, which adds to their base income.
Demand for athletes and sports competitors, including professional volleyball players, will grow by 22 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projections. Demand for professional athletes is 8 percent greater than the average for all survey occupations. Turnover is high, due to injury and the relatively short professional life of a volleyball player; however, competition for open positions is fierce, with only one out of thousands of players making it to the professional leagues.
2016 Salary Information for Athletes and Sports Competitors
Athletes and sports competitors earned a median annual salary of $47,710 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, athletes and sports competitors earned a 25th percentile salary of $26,390, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $95,290, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 11,800 people were employed in the U.S. as athletes and sports competitors.