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How Much Money Do Sportswriters Make a Year?

by Rick Suttle

Although newspaper readership has declined precipitously over the past 20 years, talented new sports writers can still find jobs with these publishers or write for online publications. Others may showcase their skills as freelancers on other news sites, blogs or television. If you want to join the ranks of other sports writers, you'll need to earn a bachelor's degree in journalism. In return, you can expect to earn a salary averaging just under $50,000 annually.

Salary and Qualifications

You may someday join the ranks of sports writers who earn six-figure incomes or higher, including Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated, Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe and John Feinstein of The Washington Post. But for now, you may have to settle for the average annual salary for a sports writer, which was $49,000 as of 2013, according to the job site Simply Hired. To become a sports writer, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree in journalism or communications. Many employers will also expect you to have at least three or more years of experience as a sports writer. Other key qualifications for this job are persistence, objectivity, physical stamina and communication and people skills.

Salary by Region

In 2013, average salaries for sports writers varied most significantly within the South, according to Simply Hired, where they earned the most in Washington, D.C., and the least in Mississippi -- $78,000 and $38,000, respectively. Those in the West made $40,000 to $56,000 in Montana and California, respectively. If you were a sports writer in the Midwest, you'd earn the highest salary of $52,000 in Illinois or Minnesota and the lowest of $38,000 in South Dakota. In the Northeast, your salary would range from $44,000 to $60,000 per year in Maine or Massachusetts.

Contributing Factors

A sports writer can earn more in certain industries. For example, reporters and correspondents earned relatively high salaries of $57,050 in the cable and other subscription programming industry as of May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They made $50,640 per year working in radio and television broadcasting. Some sports writers work for cable, radio or television stations once they become better known as journalists -- and they may earn more money in television or radio. They also earn more in larger cities because living costs are usually higher. If you earned $50,000 as a sports writer in small market Lexington, Ky., you'd need to make $74,700 in Boston to maintain the same living standard, according to CNN Money's cost of living calculator. In Los Angeles, you'd have to make $72,252 -- or nearly 45 percent more.

Career Outlook

The BLS projects an 8-percent decline in jobs for reporters, correspondents and broadcast news analysts from 2010 to 2020, far below the growth rate of 14 percent for all occupations. A consolidation of news agencies and declines in newspaper readership will decrease job opportunities for sport writers during this decade. You may find more opportunities as a sports writer by freelancing or writing for online news publishers. You'll likely find more to write about at the collegiate or high school level. Another advantage to sports writing is that many newer sports have emerged, including mixed martial arts for men and women.

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