Student athletes typically have extra busy schedules along with the usual college expenses. Between classes, course work, practices, and games or competitions, finding the time for a job to make some money can be tough.
Fortunately, there are many ways for college athletes to make money — through coaching, training gigs, remote work options, and more. With a little creativity, it’s possible to earn some cash doing what an athlete does best: playing to your strengths.
Here, you’ll learn more about how college athletes can make money while working on their degree.
Rising Cost of College
There’s no doubt that college is a big-ticket item: In the 2021-2022 school year, the average cost of tuition and fees at a public college was around $10,740 for in-state residents, and $27,560 for out-of-state residents. For private college, the average cost was $38,070.
Between 1980 and 2020, the average cost of an undergraduate degree went up by 169%.
Even if you’ve been awarded a scholarship, student athletes still need money for everyday expenses and all those protein bars. If you’re wondering how to make ends meet, read on for answers to the question, “How can you make money as a college athlete?”
12 Smart Ways to Make Money as a Student Athlete
If you need to balance athletics and academics, there are an array of part-time job opportunities well-suited for the student athlete.
Here are 12 ways you can bank on your abilities, while adding to your college bank account.
1. Working for the Athletics Department
Landing a job in your school’s athletics department can be a convenient way to earn money while figuring out how to get involved at college and meet other students. Many college athletic departments can provide part-time gigs — in the office or the locker room.
Try asking your coach or athletic director about money-making opportunities. Athletic departments often need the support and, since they’ll be helping out a student athlete, the arrangement can be a real win-win.
2. Training Younger Athletes
Your athletic talents can help nurture the next generation. You could earn an hourly wage working in an after-school sports program for kids — either directly at a school, with a private league/program, or with an organization such as the YMCA.
Parents are often looking for role models to coach and train their children. Some college athletes offer their expertise in a private one-on-one or small group setting for an hourly rate — between $20 to $25 per kid.
Your coach or athletic director may have insight on opportunities for working with children. Bonus: Running around with those energetic kids can help keep you in shape.
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3. Personal Training
Still curious about how a college athlete can earn money? Think about all those hours spent training, whether your sport is baseball or gymnastics. You can parlay your workout know-how into income. As a personal trainer, you could make around $20 bucks an hour working with a client, and schedule sessions around your availability.
However, some clients (definitely gyms) may require you to have a personal trainer certificate from an accredited program, which could take time and money.
4. Managing Social Media
In addition to hours in the weight room, college athletes, like most young people, have spent a lot of time on social media. Why not turn those hours of screen time into cash?
Some small businesses don’t have a social media presence. You could check with your campus pizza joint, a local fitness center, or your team’s favorite coffee bar and see if they might hire you to set up or maintain their social media accounts. You could arrange for an hourly rate or flat monthly fee.
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Some student athletes start their own YouTube vlog relating their experiences or testing sports equipment. As it grows, you can eventually monetize it by using income-producing programs such as Google Adsense.
The flexibility of vlogging is great for a busy college athlete’s schedule, but it might take awhile for you to learn how to get paid for social media and start bringing in income.
Quick Money Tip:When you overdraft your checking account, you’ll likely pay a non-sufficient fund fee of, say, $35. Look into linking a savings account to your checking account as a backup to avoid that, or shop around for a zero fee bank account that doesn’t charge you for overdrafting.
6. Writing Sports Articles
You can make some extra dough by writing about your experiences as a college athlete — personal stories or articles about your triumphs and challenges or an insider’s scoop on the big match.
Check with local newspapers or online sports publications for submission requirements and pay scale.
7. Working Seasonal Jobs
Many college athletes may have more hours for a job during the off-season. If the bulk of your athletic commitments are in the spring, you might consider an easy way to make money in the winter, whether shoveling driveways or ski detailing in a sporting goods store.
A primarily winter season could free up time for an athletic summer job, such as being a lifeguard or a counselor at a sports camp.
8. Selling Old Sports Gear
Student athletes can clean out their closets and earn extra money by selling their gently used sports equipment, apparel, and footwear. Online marketplaces such as SidelineSwap and Geartrade deal specifically in used sports products. Or you can always list your items on Ebay, Facebook Marketplace, and/or Craigslist.
9. Selling Sports Cards
Like many college athletes, you may have spent your childhood collecting trading cards of your sports heroes. Now your hobby could really pay off. There are many websites and antique stores waiting to buy individual cards or your whole collection.
Only one problem: Some of your sports cards may have high sentimental value. You may not be able to part with them!
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10. Starting an Online Business
Being your own boss is a great way to ensure a flexible schedule for a college athlete. Tap your entrepreneurial streak. The possibilities are endless — editing services, translation services, online T-shirt sales with a unique logo for your team — and you can hire your teammates to help out.
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Here’s how else student athletes can make money: Most are physically fit, making them good candidates for modeling work. You could submit photos to a local talent/modeling agency and mention your athletic skills as a plus. A photoshoot for a print ad or an on-camera commercial can yield good money for a few hours of work.
12. Cashing in on Endorsements
In 2021, college athletes earned the legal right to profit off of their names, images, and likeness (NIL). While some student athletes have raked in five- to six-figure endorsement deals, the majority of the 460,000 college athletes across the country earned smaller payouts or free products from local businesses.
While the ruling may be controversial, for some, it’s an easy way to benefit from your years of hard work and dedication to your sport.
Student athletes can leverage their years of training and discipline into finding a part-time job. You can channel your sports knowledge and work ethic into coaching, personal training, vlogging, writing sports articles, or launching an online business.
With a little research and hard work, you can find an income source that is financially rewarding and won’t put your studies or athletic performance in the penalty box.
Is it legal for student athletes to make money?
Student athletes are allowed to hold on-campus and off-campus jobs.
How many hours are student athletes able to work?
The NCAA dictates that student athletes are limited to participate in school athletic activities for a maximum of four hours a day, or 20 hours a week. Depending on a student’s course load, that leaves a few hours a day for a part-time job.
Do student athletes get paid?
Student athletes don’t receive salaries from colleges. However, they are allowed to benefit from monetizing their name, image, and likeness, and benefit from commercial endorsements.
Photo credit: iStock/GCShutter
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