How Much Do NFL and NBA Waterboys Make?

When somebody thinks of the term “waterboy,” they may invoke images of an Adam Sandler movie or a child keeping players hydrated on sidelines. However, did you know NFL waterboys make a decent living? Not only do they earn good money, but they get other perks, too. Despite certain connotations, people pursue being a waterboy as a career for many reasons.

What do NFL waterboys do? 

Coming from college and high school sidelines, waterboys can be a crossroads between the equipment crew and training crew. After all, they often double as towel boys on top of keeping players hydrated. Their job is to be ready throughout the entire game. If the quarterback is thirsty, they must be waiting for him on the sideline while keeping track of the other players on the roster. 

Waterboys watch the NFL sideline firsthand. While they are not supposed to do too much, they are a vital part of the game. There is a certain set of skill and preparation that is expected of them. 

How much do they make? 

According to, NFL waterboys make $53,000 on average. They also get lots of free gear, souvenirs from players (from jerseys to jockstraps), and access to the team that most fans only dream of. This is a good salary for anyone, but the figure does come with a catch. 

Salaried NFL waterboys who make this kind of money are often considered part of the training staff. They can often be a part of a bigger job title. Many teams, however, use waterboys in the more traditional sense by employing interns and family members of the coaches to save money. So, while football fans can be hired for this job, finding a team that will pay that kind of money could be tough. 

What do NBA waterboys make? 

In the NBA, the waterboy can be part of the training staff. In that case, they make more money, some even as much as NFL waterboys. These waterboys also help players with training, exercise, rehab, and game prep. Those who are just waterboys and towel boys, however, are often pulled from local schools and given a hundred dollars per game. 

As the NBA embraces different training and nutrition strategies, teams are utilizing waterboys in different ways. The Boston Celtics offer a $58,000 salary for the position. But those who are more hands-on with player nutrition and training can make upwards of six figures.

How does this compare to other jobs?

NBA mascots make upwards of $45,000 a year. Dancers, on the other hand, make surprisingly little. A well-paid waterboy can earn more than some athletes who play in the sport for a living. According to NBA G-League, players start at $35,000, although this can increase with experience. Minor league baseball players, on the other hand, can make as little as $1,300 despite near-daily work.

While NBA and NFL waterboys can make a lot of money, it varies from team to team. Those interested need to see if they have the qualifications and knowledge to do what a team expects. If they do, they can make a good living.