How much salary do famous reality TV stars get paid to be followed around by cameras that reveal every detail of their lives? When a person signs up to be on a reality TV show, they aren't just signing up for the few hours of footage that will end up airing on primetime. Essentially, they're signing up for 24/7 access to their private moments, their friends, and family. That begs the question, how much compensation should the reality stars on these "day in the life" reality shows receive?
Even though these TV stars are still able to keep their jobs while filming for the show (with the exception of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette), the cash is only compensation for the dirty laundry that's being aired out to millions of viewers each week.
Here are the lowest to highest ranking salaries in reality TV.
10 90 Day Fiancé (and spin-off shows)
90 Day Fiancé is a popular TLC show that follows relationships between Americans and their foreign partners, that have to marry before the titular 90 days are up. The show follows their struggles to afford to sponsor their fiancés legally, to earn enough money to process the visas, and to fund trips back and forth to see their partners. The financial struggles alone prove their paychecks must be pretty conservative. According to a source, the show reportedly pays their cast members $1,000 to $1,500 per episode - per-couple not per-person.
The friends and family of the couple that also seen regularly on the show usually don't get any type of compensation. The popular TLC show averages around 8 episodes per season, which gives the cast a total paycheck of $8,000 to $12,000 per season. It is also rumored that only U.S. citizens get paid, due to legal issues. (Sorry Azan). The pay is so understated that multiple contestants have turned to fans for financial support through Go Fund Me accounts.
9 Dance Moms
Dance Moms follows a team of young dancers (and their moms). After training from infamous dance instructor Abbe Lee Miller, the contestants go off to compete in competitions all over the country - as part of the elite team at Abby Lee's Dance Company. The dancers themselves are suspected to have made around $1,000 per episode for seasons 1-4 - and increased to $2,000 per episode by season 5.
That means with each season averaging around 32 episodes per season, the dancers doubled their salary by season five earning around $62,000 a season. Still, who knows how high that number is now, as Dance Moms is going into season 8. It's believed that Abby Lee was receiving around $9,000 a month from Lifetime at the time of her arrest (in 2018).
8 The Bachelor
This popular series revolves around a single man, The Bachelor, who is introduced to a group of women, in order for him to choose one for his wife. The widely popular ABC show has had many spin-offs and has grown a huge "Bachelor Nation" fan base.
Interestingly, The Bachelor reportedly makes less than The Bachelorette. According to various online sources, it's estimated that for a season's (roughly) two months of shooting, the pay range can be anywhere from $70,000 to $100,000.
7 Little People, Big World
Matt and Amy Roloff, both measuring under 4 feet tall, raise their four children on the family’s 34-acre Oregon farm. This 14 season-long TLC show has actually been around longer than Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
The parents and the kids are rumored to be making anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000 per episode, averaging 20 episodes per season, that's around $140,000 to $200,000 per season.
6 The Bachelorette
The Bachelorette is a fan favorite and an ABC staple. The beautiful bachelorette gets to choose one guy out of a pool of handpicked romantic interests. For reasons the network has not disclosed, The Bachelorette often makes more money than her Bachelor counterpart for their time on the show.
The average Bachelorette earns around $250,000 per season. Amy Kaufman's book Bachelor Nation, suggests the stars of the show receive a salary that is respective of the job they left back home. That being said, Kaufman also claims that it would be "incredibly rare for someone to make less than six figures."
5 Counting On
The latest installment of the Duggar family franchise has just wrapped up season 9 of Counting On. Most viewers have been following the Duggars since the beginning (back in 2015) when the family started with their first show 17 Kids and Counting. Now, viewers follow the Duggar kids as grownups finding love, getting married, and having their own kids.
According to various online sources, the featured Duggars are making anywhere from $25,000 to $40,000 per episode of Counting On. Given that each season averages around 8 episodes, that’s approximately $200,000 to $320,000 a season.
4 Sister Wives
This TLC show follows the Brown family which consists of Kody Brown and his four wives, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn, who try to live a normal life with their combined 18 children in a society that shuns their Polygamist lifestyle.
Viewers have wondered how one man could provide for four wives, which means four different houses, and all 18 of their children. The estimated $25,000-$40,000 per episode doesn't hurt and averaging around 11 episodes a season, that means roughly $275,000 to $440,000 for the Brown family every season.
3 Teen Mom
The original group of Teen Moms were introduced to fans on MTV back in 2009. The young moms gave viewers insight into their lives as pregnant teens, in the birthing room, and deeply personal relationships - showing the struggle of being a teen mom.
How much compensation do they get for letting millions of viewers into the most intimate aspects of their lives and relationships? Teen Mom salaries are estimated to be around $25,000 per episode - with some sources suggesting the original Teen Moms, such as Catelynn Lowell, earn at minimum $500,000 per season.
2 The Real Housewives
A show that already revolves around affluence, plastic surgeon husbands, vacation homes in the Hamptons, and even owning a basketball team, it should come as no surprise The Real Housewives require a large salary to even consider appearing on a reality TV show.
Apparently, the beginning salary per season started off low, $7,250 for the entire season of season 1 of Real Housewives of New York; yet, new reports claim Bethany Frankel is making upwards of $1.5 million per season - and Lisa Vanderpump (The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills) as well as Nene Leaks (The Real Housewives of Atlanta) make up to 2.7 million dollars per season. Reality TV has made these rich housewives even richer.
1 Keeping up with the Kardashians
The highest paid reality gig. Keeping Up With the Kardashians has been on the air since 2007 - back when audiences were introduced to the Kardashian/Jenner family. As the popularity and fame of the family grew, so did their paychecks.
As of 2017, Kris, Kim, Khloé, Kourtney, Kylie, Kendall, Scott, and Caitlyn each reportedly average around $500,000 per episode (each). Considering an average of 14 episodes per season, that makes each Kardashian's seasonal take-in about $7,000,000. That's just the main show - not including the family's other spin-off shows, including Khloé and Kim Take Miami, Khloé and Lamar, Revenge Body With Khloé, Life of Kylie, I am Cait, and Flip-It Like Disick.
What would happen if the stars were no longer on TV? Viewers can only imagine how different the stars of Teen Mom, Counting On, and Sister Wives might be if they didn't have a six-figure income every season. Would the teen moms, the Duggars, and the Brown family be this successful raising children without the help and financial security their show has provided them?
One thing is for sure, reality TV is here to stay and it is thanks to these people (and producers to put down serious cash) to make it all possible!