Football fans can always expect to see a few extra things during an NFL game.
One of those things is cheerleaders.
Although cheerleaders take part in almost every sport these days, they’re only a recent invention.
The first cheerleading squad hit the field in 1954 to support the Baltimore Colts.
Today, they’re an integral part of representing the teams they support and helping sell merchandise.
Cheerleaders keep their team inspired and keep the crowd excited.
When the action starts to sag on the field, they’re there to keep everyone revved up.
Because of the important role they play, and the athletics required for the job, you’d think that cheerleaders would receive decent pay like the football players.
That isn’t necessarily the case.
Here’s how much cheerleaders who work for the Dallas Cowboys earn.
How Much Do Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders Make?
Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders now make $12 an hour and receive $400 for every gameday appearance.
That said, some senior-level cheerleaders reportedly earn around $75,000 a year.
As the result of a court case, they increased their pay for cheerleaders.
Originally, Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders made less than minimum wage at $8 an hour.
In many cases, they weren’t even paid for some of their appearances.
They had expectations from their employers to show up and do the job since, for many dancers, cheerleading for the NFL was a dream job.
That said, it’s still a job and one that requires a particular ability to do some athletic performing, too.
The pay became so bad that one former Dallas Cowboy cheerleader, Erica Wilkins, sued the team for not receiving the pay that they owed her when she was working overtime.
During the 2018 court case, Wilkins revealed that she had earned $16,500 a year.
This was in comparison to the $65,000 that the mascot earned a year.
Wilkins also stated that she hadn’t received payment for her time filming the documentary series Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team.
Wilkins brought attention to the incredible wage disparity between cheerleaders and other positions on the team.
Even water boys, who earn around $50,000 a year, made more than the members of the cheerleading squad.
How Do You Join The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleading Team?
If you believe you have what it takes to take part in the Dallas Cowboys cheerleading team, then you may wonder how to join them.
The good news is that there’s always a chance.
The Dallas Cowboys requires everyone to re-audition for the team even if they cheered the last season.
Even veterans who have cheered for the team for years will have to audition again every year.
The advantage of being a veteran, however, is that you skip some of the beginning stages of the audition process.
For newcomers, here are some of the steps you’ll need to complete to join the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.
There are three main rounds of the audition process.
These rounds take place over a few days.
The first round is the preliminaries.
This is when the bulk of auditionees show up to prove they have what it takes.
The first round is a freestyle dance.
Each contestant joins a group of five.
When their group is set on stage, they first introduce themselves to the judges.
Then a song plays.
The DJ will choose the song at random.
The contestants have no idea what song is going to play.
That said, they have around 90 seconds to dance.
There isn’t a set choreography for this portion of the audition.
Instead, competitors have to show off their skills and personality through the dance they choose.
Not only should it match the song, but the contestant needs to display great rhythm and the ability to adapt at a moment’s notice.
Of the average 400 auditionees who show up for round one, only around 100 or 120 make it to the second round, the semifinals.
In the morning, the contestants will go to the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium and learn a specific choreography from the actual professional choreographer.
Other veterans of the cheerleading squad will also be there to lend a helping hand.
The contestants must learn the dance in three hours.
They split into groups of five once more and re-introduce themselves to the judges.
From there, the song starts, and the contestants have to perform the dance as well as they can.
The judges will pick those who danced well to move on to the next round.
3. The Finals
Round three is the finals.
This is where the veterans who had been part of the squad before will begin their auditions.
They’re able to skip the first two rounds since they’ve done it in the past.
Now, the veterans and the newcomers are auditioning together.
The final round has two stages.
The first is a solo dance.
The contestant is able to choose their own song, their costume, and their own dance.
They perform it before the judges on their own to display their skills and talent levels.
The veterans also perform the solo dance.
In the afternoon is the second part of the final round.
The contestants learn a different dance from the choreographer.
They then have to perform the dance as a group.
Those who impressed the judges in both stages of this round are able to move on.
4. Complete A Written Test
If you want to join the Dallas Cowboys cheerleading team, then it’s a good idea to know a bit about the team you’re cheering for.
Part of the audition process for joining the squad is to complete a written test.
The test has 100 questions and covers various topics like some football regulations, current events, Dallas Cowboys trivia, and even questions about pop culture.
Your score will factor into your overall performance.
Because cheerleaders often represent the team in various situations and at events, the team leaders want to ensure that the cheerleaders are eloquent.
To prove this, each contestant has to sit through a panel interview.
The judges will ask a series of questions that no one knows beforehand.
Contestants receive a score based on how well they answered the question and how conversational they were.
6. Training Camp
If you make it through the audition process, then you’re invited to join the Dallas Cowboy cheerleading training camp.
The camp teaches all the cheerleaders the new dances and cheers that they’ll be using in the upcoming season.
Throughout the camp, contestants will still need to leave when they’re cut.
It’s a pruning experience from there on out.
By the end of camp, if you’ve proven that you have what it takes to cheer, then you’ll find yourself with an official position on the Dallas Cowboy cheerleader squad.
What Are The Different Types Of Cheerleaders?
There are different types of cheerleaders, and their pay differs based on the type that they are.
Here are a few different types of cheerleaders and the average pay they earn, if anything.
1. All-Star Cheerleaders
All-Star cheerleaders take part in cheerleading competitions.
They don’t spend their time cheering on various sports teams.
They’re a sports team in themselves.
Instead of learning various chants and cheers to spur action or defense, all-star cheerleaders focus on competitive cheers.
Since they’re competing against other cheerleaders, their chants tend to be about themselves or cheerleading as a whole.
All-Star cheerleaders are some of the most athletic types of cheerleaders.
That’s because they use various techniques in their cheer routines like tumbling, stunts, and gymnastics.
Their routines all follow a type of choreography, too, so they need to understand how to dance and keep to a rhythm as well.
Because they mix athletics with memorization, All-Star cheerleaders are easily some of the best out there.
It’s also extremely hard to join a professional team.
In most cases, those who want to take part in the competition need to join a gym owned by a team.
The gym uses various coaches associated with the team who train the existing cheerleaders as well as those with a gym membership.
If the coaches spot someone who shows some talent, then they may invite them to join the team when there’s an opening.
If you want to join an All-Star team outside of the gym, however, then you’ll need to try out.
The try-out process is fierce and competitive.
Not only do you have to prove that you have what it takes to join the team, but you’re also competing against everyone else attempting to join the team.
How much you earn as a competitive cheerleader is up in the air, but you can expect to pay a lot of money to participate.
Not only do you have to fund your own uniform and accessories, but you also have to purchase everything else you could need.
Bobby pins, make-up, and other necessities are completely out of your own pocket.
There are also travel costs associated with competitive cheerleading.
Because it’s competitive, you have to travel across the country to perform at massive competitions.
Those travel costs aren’t covered by the team.
While some may be able to afford a bus for the team, the team’s families and support systems will need to fund their own travel there.
There’s also the cost of the competitions, themselves.
If parents want to watch their children compete, then they need to pay for expensive tickets just to watch.
A final cost of competitive cheerleading is classes and training.
To stay part of the team, the cheerleader has to keep performing well.
They can only do that by continuing to train their bodies and hone their strength.
That costs money, too.
All-Star cheerleaders are some of the best in the world, but it takes a lot of money to compete.
2. Scholastic Cheerleaders
Most cheerleaders get the start as scholastic cheerleaders.
These are the cheerleaders who root for their teams during middle and high school.
They’re often split into two categories: junior and varsity.
Sometimes the split is due to age or grade, and other times, it’s split by skill level.
Varsity cheerleaders tend to either have more skills or are juniors or seniors in high school.
Colleges and universities have scholastic cheerleaders, too.
They hold tryouts like they do in middle and high school.
Interested parties have to prove their athletic abilities and school spirit to make the team.
Since some colleges also take part in competitive cheerleading, they often look for skilled cheerleaders to join the team.
Other cheerleaders will use college or university as a way to dip their toes into the big leagues.
It can be a way to gain connections into the professional side of cheerleading.
Scholastic cheerleaders rarely make anything.
In middle and high school, cheerleading is more like a club.
It’s done as a hobby rather than a job.
The same goes for college and university cheerleaders.
It’s more of a mandatory volunteer club than a profession.
That said, some cheerleaders may be able to find ways to make money through sponsorships and marketing deals.
3. Recreational Cheerleaders
Those who like to do cheerleading as a hobby are recreational cheerleaders.
They often find themselves as part of some organization that signs them up for various events.
It’s a voluntary position and practically everyone is able to join the team since they don’t hold tryouts.
Even the coaching position and support positions are voluntary.
They tend to source coaches from among the pool of parents.
Recreational cheerleaders may sometimes find themselves assigned to cheer at a minor sporting event or attend some form of a charity event.
There are even recreational competitions that the team can take part in.
Since the teams are voluntary, these types of cheerleaders don’t receive pay.
However, they are a great opportunity for scholastic cheerleaders looking to broaden their resumes with community service.
They’re also beneficial in that they can provide some training, usually cheaper than other gyms, to help hone the skills of a cheerleader.
It’s an experience one might want to consider if one wants to make a profession out of cheerleading.
4. Professional Cheerleaders
Becoming a professional cheerleader isn’t easy.
These are the cheerleaders that people see on TV cheering for their teams and performing at halftime shows.
The Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders fit into this category.
Within professional cheerleading are various tiers.
Beginners are at the lowest rung and receive basic pay.
They’re lucky if they make $2,000 a year.
As they spend more time with the team and grow in experience, they can become senior cheerleaders.
These are the ones who have put in the work and tend to be the leaders or call the shots.
They’re also the top earners.
They make, on average, around $75,000 a year, but that largely depends on the team that they’re cheering for.
Some professional cheerleaders go on to become coaches that then coach the NFL or NBA team.
Joining a professional team isn’t easy.
The Dallas Cowboys team tends to receive around 400 applications every year.
Only around 36 of those applicants will actually make the team.
Although professional cheerleaders don’t start with great pay, they can find opportunities while on the team.
There are marketing opportunities, sponsorships, and travel opportunities that can help them make useful business connections.
By using their time as part of the team correctly, professional cheerleaders can set their own businesses up on the side.
While cheerleading does take up a portion of that time, it isn’t something they do every day.
Professional cheerleaders also often have day jobs.
Their day jobs help support their cheerleading costs when the team isn’t paying them enough on its own.
Being a professional cheerleader can open a lot of doors, but depending on the team you’re cheering for, you may not receive the best pay.