If the idea of jumping out of a car as you drive it off a cliff, sliding under a truck’s trailer as you lead a high-speed pursuit or careening through an obstacle course at 100 miles per hour sounds like fun, a career as a stunt driver may be for you. Fortunately, if you can build a name for yourself as a stunt driver, you face a cushy salary.
By the Numbers
A 2005 CNN article reports that while incomes of stunt drivers can vary wildly, those who are better established can earn generous six-figure salaries. However, stunt drivers don’t draw a salary in the same sense that 9-to-5 employees do. Their salaries are comprised of their entire earnings for a year, and that can vary from year to year because they’re paid by the job. While stunt drivers are essentially actors with special driving skills, they are never seen and thus tend to earn less than the actors they replace for risky driving scenes. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide salary information for stunt drivers, and because they’re paid less than actors whose faces are seen, salary information from the BLS for actors doesn’t really provide an accurate picture of what stunt drivers make.
Various key factors can drastically affect a stunt driver’s salary. These include how well-known he is and whether he works exclusively on movies or does commercials or live-driving entertaining. Generally, A-list movies tend to pay best. However, the more danger involved in performing a car stunt, the greater the pay is likely to be.
Because how many jobs in any given year a stunt driver gets determines his salary for that year, it’s critical that stunt drivers know how to market themselves. Most have websites with clips of their driving for potential employers to see. In addition, because stunt drivers are often used to replace actors in movies and commercials, they are often based according to how well they can play another person. Precision drivers in their 30s who are in shape tend to be most usable for movies.
Determining the job outlook for stunt drivers is a tricky task. On one hand, there will always be car commercials and there will always be action movies with precision driving and risky stunts. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that wages and salaries for individuals working in the movie and video industry will grow by 14 percent from 2008 to 2018. Thus, there will always be a need for stunt drivers. However, the popularity of movies like the Fast & Furious series may spur a new generation of aspiring stunt drivers. And that may mean, down the line, more competition for jobs.