Study: You’ll Probably Make More Millions in Tech Than in Pro Sports

With 2017 Super Bowl 51 a little over a week away, football fans are getting excited. Football, like any pro sport, carries plenty of appeal: Skill, strength, and piles of cash are the main draws. And while the first two are still undisputed, a new study from personalized career search company Paysa is going after that last one.

So which move has the best odds of becoming a millionaire: winning the lottery, going pro as an athlete or becoming a tech engineer? If you’ve read the title of this article, you’re not going to be surprised. But here’s the rundown.

They Both Beat Getting a Lottery Ticket

The odds of winning the lottery are one in 14 million. Meanwhile, one out of 659 players make the leap from a high school baseball team to a pro team, just one out of almost 12,000 high school basketball players do the same, and for high schoolers headed for the NFL, just one out of 4,233 get in.

“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, in the company’s blog post. “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.”

NBA players average a salary of $2,505, 720, while MLB players average around $500,000. NFL are looking at $860,000. But there’s a catch: The average sports career only lasts a few years. MLB careers average 5.6 years, NFL average 3.5 and NBA average 4.8 years.

Engineers Have Better Odds

From Paysa:

“The average acceptance rate at engineering schools is 63 out of 100. Six out of 10 engineering students graduate and 97 out of 100 find jobs.

The odds of making it as a tech engineer are therefore much higher than the odds of making it in pro sports and they payout can be much more as well, especially when you consider that tech degrees are becoming more and more accessible.”

Once in a career, the average is 40 years at a $125, 418 average salary, adding up to a total earnings potential of $5,016,723. That goes way up if you make it to Facebook ($13,533,236) or Google ($10,674,690).

Meanwhile, adding up the average salary and the average career lengths in pro sports nets you a relatively smaller pot: $2,912,000 in MLB, $3,010,000 in the NFL, and $12,027,456 in the NBA.

But if you read this far down, chances are even better that a career in engineering is for you: You clearly enjoy math.

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Adam is a writer at and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He was a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and his art history book on 1970s sci-fi, 'Worlds Beyond Time,' is out from Abrams Books in July 2023. In the meantime, he's hunting down the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.
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