What Does a Sports Announcer Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

Image by Theresa Chiechi. © The Balance 2019

Sports announcers describe the action and provide colorful commentary for broadcasts of sporting events. They can work in television or radio or for an internet media outlet.

Announcers who work for many years calling games for a specific team will forever be associated with that team. At its highest levels, a career as a sports announcer can be rather glamorous and offer a generous salary. But it is important to note that announcers at the top of their game have typically paid their dues in less exciting places to land those coveted jobs.

Increasingly, former coaches and players are hired for commentary jobs while other announcers handle the play-by-play duties.

Sports Announcer Duties & Responsibilities

This job generally requires the following abilities and qualities:

  • Knowledge of the sport, the teams that are playing, and their players
  • The ability to quickly summarize what's happening during the game
  • The ability to offer commentary on the game
  • The ability to banter with your on-air colleagues
  • Knowledge of how the particular form of broadcasting works

Sports announcers must combine all of those attributes so the things they say engage the audience and come across as friendly and intelligent. They should let their personalities shine through but not to the extent that they interfere with viewers' and listeners' enjoyment of the game.

Sports Announcer Salary

The salary of a sports announcer varies a great deal based on their level of experience and the size of the media market they work in. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not compile salary data specifically for sports announcers. These figures are for all types of announcers, including those who present music and news, on radio or television. Hourly figures are based on a 40-hour workweek.

  • Median Annual Salary: $33,220 ($15.97/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $94,450 ($45.41/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $19,120 ($9.19/hour)

Education, Training, & Certification

Sports announcers typically begin preparation for their careers in college, in and out of classes. They often receive a bachelor’s degree in majors like communications, journalism, radio/television, or multimedia. Speech, voice, and music classes may be beneficial to develop an appealing voice.

Sports announcers need to demonstrate extensive experience to kick-start their career, and many begin by calling games for various sports programs at their college.

Sports Announcer Skills & Competencies

Sports announcers in major media markets like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago are so polished they make the job look easy. But it takes a lot of practice as well as the following qualities and abilities to be a successful announcer:

  • An excellent speaking voice: Sports announcers must have a voice people want to listen to. They also should be in command of it, speaking clearly and confidently.
  • Interpersonal skills: They must be able to interact effectively with other on-air talent as well as, in some cases, in-studio guests and people who call in to their show.
  • Researching: In smaller markets, they need to be able to conduct their own research, generating statistics and bits of trivia about the home team and their opponents.
  • Writing: They may also need to help write material for the broadcast or for use in other media.
  • Technical savvy: They have to be capable of using the various pieces of technological equipment their particular job utilizes.

Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs for all types of announcers is expected to fall 9 percent from 2016 to 2026. Employment of radio and television announcers is projected to experience a larger decline: 12 percent. The BLS cites the ongoing consolidation of radio and TV stations and broadcasting companies.

Work Environment

Sports announcers work most prominently in broadcast booths at stadiums and other sporting venues. They may also work in an office-type setting while preparing for broadcasts.

Work Schedule

A sports announcer's schedule depends on that of the team or sporting events they cover. Consequently, they have to work at various times of the day and night and on weekends and holidays.

How to Get the Job

INTERNSHIPS

Aspiring sports announcers who are still in college should seek internships that will help them get their foot in the door with a team or broadcasting company.

WRITE A TARGETED RESUME AND COVER LETTER

Create a resume that plays up your strengths and sets you apart from other candidates. Write a short but informative cover letter specific to the job you're applying for.

MAKE RECORDINGS

Record your games, review them, and keep track of excellent calls or commentary. You should provide your best recorded snippets to media outlets when applying for jobs.

Comparing Similar Jobs

People interested in becoming sports announcers might also consider the following jobs. The figures provided are median annual salaries: