Kicker salaries aren't typically the highest in the national football league. In fact, overall, they tend to make far less than other players, although there are kickers whose pay can top $4 million a year. The lowest-paid kicker in the NFL is, on average, the second-string kicker, who makes considerably less than the $1.7 million average salary earned by first-string kickers throughout the NFL.
An NFL kicker shows up several times during the course of a game, aiming for field goals when it's possible to earn extra points and kicking off to the receiving team after each touchdown and at the start of each half. Due to only playing a few times each game, an NFL field goal kicker salary is typically lower than other team members, but that doesn't mean skill is any less important. There are multiple styles of kicking that a talented kicker will use based on where they're positioned on the field. A second-string NFL kicker will be used even less often, typically standing on the sidelines unless there's an emergency.
As important as it is to have leg strength and talent, though, there's no denying the intense stress that comes with the position. A high field-goal-kicker salary is well-earned, considering the fact that kickers head out onto the field during crucial parts of the game, with the entire crowd typically holding its collective breath to see the outcome of each kick.
Although physical fitness and leg strength are essential, a specific type of education isn't required in order to be chosen to earn an NFL field goal kicker salary. NFL players are usually recruited from colleges, so it's important for high school players to play well enough for a college team to qualify for the pros. This probably will mean capturing the attention of recruiters in high school, who then offer you a scholarship to the college you want.
A backup NFL kicker salary may be lower than a kicker's, but a good one is getting tougher to find. Some teams have had to rely on other team members to fill in for the kicker – a setup that isn't exactly ideal since kicking is a very specific type of skill. This means a good emergency kicker may be in demand.
Often when a team needs an emergency kicker, they will turn toward another lowest-paid-kicker position in the NFL, the punter. Punters earn anywhere from about $500,000 to more than $20 million, so that might be a better route since each team has one. The salary is also likely to be better than the backup NFL kicker salary, being first string.
Field Goal Kicker Salary
The lowest-paid kicker in the NFL makes $450,000, and that's only if he can remain on the roster for the entire season. For the most part, kickers are drafted from college, although some are impressive athletes in soccer or other sports. Kickers typically aren't drafted and if they are, they're chosen in a later round. The average salary for a kicker is about $1.7 million, but second-string kickers will make considerably less.
To get the best idea of what a backup NFL kicker salary can expect to make, it can help to look at the salaries of NFL practice squad members. The minimum salary for an NFL practice squad player is $8,000 per week in 2019, increasing to $8,400 in 2020. Overall, though, the position of athletes and sports competitors is expected to have average growth through 2026, so there are many careers with a better job outlook.
Job Growth Trend
One thing determining field goal kicker salary is demand. The problem for backup kickers is that, although there are fewer competing for the role, not every team even uses one. This means fewer opportunities for talented players. Recruiters find fewer eligible candidates and, among those, have difficulty determining whether the athletes they're watching can handle the intense stress that comes with the job.
- Sportrac: NFL Salary Rankings
- Best Job Descriptions: NFL Kicker Job Description
- USA Today: Backup Plan: Who's Your Team's Emergency Kicker?
- Gazette Review: Average NFL Kicker Salary 2018 – How Much Pro Kickers Make
- SportingNews: NFL Practice Squads: Minimum Salary, Rules for 2018
- Sports Illustrated: The Placekicker Puzzle: Why It's One of the Toughest Positions for NFL Scouts to Evaluate
- Over the Cap: Punter Contracts
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Athletes and Sports Competitors