To Earn Big Bucks, The Engineering Field Scores Better Than The Playing Field
Want to be a multimillionaire? Better put down that ball and pick up a calculator.
Career: Sports Athlete vs Tech Engineer
Although it might take longer, the chances of becoming a multimillionaire are much higher for those who pursue engineering careers versus those who chase after a ball and professional sports dreams. According to new data just released by Paysa, a tech job analytics firm, earning a seven figure sum is more of a sure thing for engineering careers whereas the odds of getting there via playing big league sports is more akin to playing the lottery.
Acceptance Rates at Engineering School Dominate the Odds of Playing Pro Sports
Odds of winning the lottery? You’re looking at a one in 14 million chance. Chances for a high school athlete to make it to the pros? Somewhat better but not great.
- One out of 659 players makes it from their high school baseball team to the majors.
- One out of 4,233 high school football players will make it to the NFL
- One out of 11,771 high school basketball players go on to shoot hoops for the NBA
Bottom line – the chances of making it to the MLB, NFL or NBA are slim.
But pursuing an engineering degree as a goal instead of pursuing a field goal gives you much better odds at success. The average acceptance rate at engineering schools stands at 63 out of 100. Six out of 10 engineering students graduate and – here’s the icing on the cake – 97 out of 100 find jobs.
And with Trump likely to cut down the flow of tech workers coming here from overseas, no doubt soon 100 out of 100 will find jobs.
A Short-Lived Career Versus Being In It For the Long Haul
NBA players can count on a hefty average annual salary of $2,505, 720. MLB players who make an average of $500,000 also do well. For high school football players who make it to the NFL, there is no doubt that the average annual salaries at $860,000 is alluring.
But since the average professional sports career lasts only a few short years, the long-term payout is not necessarily any better – and could even be worse — than what an individual would realize if he or she went to engineering school and took home an engineer’s $125,418 average annual salary.
Here are some lifetime comparisons:
MLB: average career length is 5.6 years with the lifetime earning potential of $2,912,000
NFL: average career length is 3.5 years with the lifetime earning potential of $3,010,000
NBA: average career length is 4.8 years with the lifetime earning potential of $12,027,456
Tech: average career length is 40 years with the lifetime earning potential of $5,016,723*
*Luck out and work at Facebook or Google or the tech world’s next Facebook or Google and you’re looking at $10,674,690 to $13,533,236 lifetime earnings!
“Many high school kids dream of making it to the NFL, MLB or NBA, but the reality is that very few make it to the pros – most who pursue a sports career never realize that dream or at best, play a more supportive role,” said Chris Bolte, CEO of Paysa. “Those who do make it face the reality that their time and earning potential is limited and could even be at risk due to injury. At the same time, over a half a million unfilled jobs in technology continue to go unfilled across all sectors of the economy, making it a way better bet to pursue an engineering, computer science or other tech degree that can promise the same or even better earning potential over the long haul.”
Concussions – As if You Needed Another Reason
As if the odds of making bank in engineering vs pro sports aren’t convincing enough, there’s the scary specter of concussions. Basically it comes down to would you rather use your brain or lose your brain?
Scary but true fact: 87 out of 91 former NFL players who donated their brains to science showed evidence of brain damage. The level of damage, caused by repetitive trauma to the head, is linked to depression, memory loss and dementia.
“Concussions are a fact of life in today’s sports world,” states the Sports Concussion Institute. Some of these facts according to the Institute are:
- Football is the most common sport with concussion risk for males (75% chance for concussion)
- Soccer is the most common sport with concussion risk for females (50% chance for concussion)
- 78% of concussions occur during games (as opposed to practices)
- A professional football player will receive an estimated 900 to 1500 blows to the head during a season
- Estimated 47% of athletes do not report feeling any symptoms after a concussive blow
To make it to the big leagues means starting early and playing often during high school and college years. That’s how you get noticed by scouts and coaches for college teams and the pros. But more playing time increases the chance of possible injury. The scariest of these is the risk of concussion. Bones heal but the brain does not.
High school athletes who played football, lacrosse, soccer and baseball were nearly twice as likely to experience concussions than college-age players, according to a recent study by the National Academy of Sciences reported by CNN.
But the study authors worry that the difference may be due to a reluctance among college players, especially in Division 1 schools to report symptoms for fear of getting less playing time.
And don’t count on that fancy new helmet to protect your skull and its contents. Helmets and equipment did little to reduce the risk of concussion, according to the report. “There was little scientific evidence to support claims from manufacturers that their gear improves safety.”
Engineering School Is More than Just the Ivies
Brand name colleges like Stanford, Harvard, MIT and Berkeley have produced some of the tech industry giants (although several transferred in after starting somewhere else and Bill Gates famously dropped out). But in the framework of tech, that was a long time ago. Today many universities have beefed up their engineering departments and grad programs to attract future-minded students. Among them are many decent state universities where if you’re an in-state resident or take a year to become one, you can graduate with a lot less student loan debt than those who matriculate at the Ivies where costs can range from $50,000 to $60,000 a year. Plus you can have a lot more fun in high school. Best of all most tech jobs do not require a master’s degree. You can plunge right in to a six figure job as soon as the ink is dry on that undergrad diploma.
For example, Georgia Tech, with a $12,212 in-state annual cost, is among hundreds of schools trying to attract more students. Its undergraduate engineering department ranked 4th in U.S. News and World Report’s rankings right behind MIT, Stanford and Berkeley. Tied for 6th place are the University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana and University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. For an even lower cost option, both Grantham University and Central Methodist University offer online bachelor’s degrees in computer science for an annual cost of about $8,000, according to the website OnlineU. Starting at a community college and transferring to a four-year university for junior and senior years is another way to make a great degree more accessible.
And maybe a kid can have the best of both worlds – play sports in high school and then study engineering in college. Just don’t skip calculus class for practice.