When athletes have the talent and opportunity to play professionally for a living, they virtually always hire the services of a sports agent. Pursuing, negotiating and maintaining contracted positions in professional sports organizations can be a complicated process and sports agents handle this business side of the career. Agents also help players make decisions regarding endorsement deals, personal financial planning and public appearances. With such a vast array of possibilities in the sports careers, salaries for sports agents can vary significantly.
Average Salary Guidelines
According to a 2009 salary survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, agents in the U.S. in made $87,430 a year on average. Those employed in the spectator sports industry earned an annual mean wage of $67,700. However, the website Simply Hired reports that in 2011, a sports agent earns $34,000 a year on average.
Forms of Charging
Sports agents determine their fees in a variety of ways. One of the most common ways is by taking a percentage of the player's contract value, typically 3 percent to 5 percent. For those representing national level professional athletes, this can be quite lucrative. Other agents, especially those who are also lawyers, charge hourly fees of up to $400 an hour. A flat fee is sometimes used, specifically with agents who are doing short-term or one-time deals. A combination of any or all of these methods can also be used, such as a percentage of the counteract value plus a per hour fee for time spent on external incomes such as endorsements.
Type of Sport or Organization
Because most of the major league sports agents work on commission, their salaries will be subject to the value of the players' contracts. According to Sports Management Worldwide, National Football League agents can earn commissions ranging from $6,750 to $600,000 from a contract in direct correlation to a player's salary. In the National Basketball Association, agents earn anywhere from $15,400 to $1,120,000 per contract because basketball is the highest paying professional sport in the U.S. Major League Soccer agents make far less, an estimated take of $600 to $20,000 per player contract.
Many sports agents have no formal credentials but rather have a deep understanding of the rules, regulations, history and culture of the sport they work in. However, some of the higher-earning agents have vast experience in business and contract negotiation, business and management degrees, and sports agent training. Some agents began their careers as lawyers and have gained experience representing performers of all types.