By Ryan Velez
It goes without saying that pro athletes pull in quite the impressive salary, befitting considering that their prominence and physical prowess. For example, in 2016, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James made over $77 million between his pay and endorsements. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning made $45 million, and LA Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw made $32 million. However, a Business Insider article says that if you are looking to get rich and have a successful job, being pro athlete may not be the top option.
To put things in perspective, the career length for a pro athlete is relatively short, and when you are talking about pay, the stars make much more than your rank and file players. For example, in the NFL, the average career length is 3.5 years with the lifetime earning potential of $3,010,000. The NBA is a bit better, with an average length of 4.8 years and $12,027,456 in lifetime earning potential. Where the issues pop up is when it comes to actually making it to the big time. How many people try to get to that point without ever making it period, let alone getting a decent contract? While being a pro athlete is a dream, there may be other career paths to follow.
If you choose to be an engineer, by comparison, the odds are on your side. Tech job site Paysa says that the average acceptance rate at engineering schools is 63 out of 100. 6 out of 10 of those students graduate, and 97 out of 100 of those graduates find work. In terms of pay, the average career span is 40 years with an average annual salary at $125,418. This lifetime earning potential adds up to $5,016,723, more than that of your average MLB or NFL athlete. Not to mention, issues like injury shortening your career are less of an issue.
If you manage to get in the upper echelon of these type of jobs, you can stand to make even more. A job at Facebook can result in overall lifetime earnings of $13,533,236, and a career tech employee at Google could make up to $10,674,690. With this said, for people in impoverished areas, both types of jobs may seem like a pipe dream. The difference is that it is possible to improve tech education in these areas, where true athletic talent is something that can’t be bought.