While most people consider paintball as a recreational activity with few professional aspects, this is not necessary true. In the United States there are professional paintball players that work at various levels in different leagues, competing against one another. These players not only work with sponsors to help advertise various products, but gather to participate in tournaments and other events that offer earned wages.
Compensation levels for professional paintballers depends largely on the type of league where the player is active. In the early 2000s, paintball was in a growth phase, and interest in the potential of professional games was high. While the recession of 2007 to 2009 dampened interested, professionals at the highest levels still make significant wages. Pro players are part of teams that play at national levels and receive most of their compensation from sponsors.
According to Simple Hired, professional paintball player salaries depend largely on location, as well as on experience. In 2011, in California, a professional player was able to make as much as $65,000 a year. In New York, a player made only $46,000 a year. In Massachusetts a player made $47,000, depending on the opportunities available.
Professional players participate in tournaments where the first price is often a cash award. These cash awards can be as high as $20,000 and count as extra compensation for the players. While this amount may seem like a lot of money, the award is typically split among all members of the team, which means that only a fraction of it will go to individual players. This can lower the impact of prize money.
Professional paintball players tend to move from game to game and from event to event across the United States. Sponsors may pay for some transportation, but in many cases players must find their own way to their destinations in order to play. This hectic schedule can be a source of significant costs for the player and should be considered as a balance to any salary that the player might make.