How Much Does an NFL Referee Make?

Do you know how much the NFL referees get compared to the players? The high-stakes position pays much, and referees deserve it since even a little mistake may derail an entire team’s season.


In this article, we will examine the average salaries of NFL referees and identify the highest-paid ones. Continue reading as we delve into the requirements for becoming an NFL referee and provide a more detailed explanation of how referees earn their salaries.

The NFL and the NFL Referees Association just inked a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which means that officials will probably earn more money now. Those figures, meanwhile, are not known to the general public.


For the top officials, the aforementioned $201,000 annually is only the beginning; there is an additional incentive for officials officiating postseason games. Furthermore, it has been reported that officials have the potential to earn incentives ranging from $1,500 to $5,000 for each playoff game.

How much do NFL referees make to work the Super Bowl?


Given the tremendous pressure these officials are under, NFL wage scales are a common topic of conversation. There is a lot of pressure on them to make the correct choice since everyone is watching. Official salary information for NFL referees has never been made public, so all we can do is speculate.

By 2022, the average NFL referee compensation is projected to reach $205,000, according to experts. It seems reasonable that the NFL’s officiating roster’s veteran officials will receive more money than rookies. The extra money made per game is included in this estimate. We also found out that NFL referees have a nice pension plan and other benefits.

Line judges, umpires, and referees are all part of the officiating crew, but for the sake of this discussion, we will limit ourselves to referees, who are in charge of the crew and make the ultimate decisions on calls.

Bonuses for Super Bowl referees might range from $30,000 to $50,000, according to

Is refereeing in the NFL a full-time job?

A referee’s basic compensation and the amount they receive every game are both determined by their level of expertise. The average salary for an NFL referee with less than two years of experience is under $1,000 per game, according to our research. About $3,000 is the usual rate for referees with two to five years of expertise.

Having said that, referees with over five years of expertise may expect to earn around $10,000.

Given that there are 17 games in a typical season and that the average wage of an NFL referee is $205,000, the average amount that referees make is around $12,000. These figures are still approximations, however, since not all referees will rule in every round.

The exact wage figures for NFL referees are not out in the open, but rumors provide a ballpark.

We have an understanding of predicted figures with an informed look from years past thanks to research via expired CBAs, which has been used to estimate the value. An NFL official’s average compensation for the season leading into 2023 is estimated to be about $205,000, according to projections.

The original estimates were $150,000, based on the assumption that the price would rise in tandem with the league. This was done several years ago. While costs will inevitably rise over time, we shouldn’t expect a significant increase until the next CBA pertaining to referees is up for renewal.

There seems to be no way out of the present CBA for the league’s officials anytime soon, since it extends until May 31, 2026.

How Much Do Female NFL Referees Make?

It is reasonable to wonder how much money female NFL referees earn now that there are three of them. Sarah Thomas stands out among female NFL referees.

Thomas made history in 2021 by officiating the Super Bowl and a playoff game. There is no correlation between a referee’s gender and their income in the NFL; pay is based solely on experience.

The National Football League said that Sarah Thomas and Maia Chaka would be the two female referees in the league in 2021. The league said that three would be there when Robin DeLorenzo takes over as a down judge in 2022. She was a college football official for the Big Ten Conference only last season.

The Focus reports that Thomas made history in 2015 when she became the first female to work as a full-time NFL official. She broke the glass ceiling in February 2021 by working the first-ever female Super Bowl.

The Sporting News reports that Chaka made history in September 2021 when she officiated an NFL game as the league’s first black woman.

The National Football League is pushing for more female referees. NFL Operations introduced the Women Officiating Now initiative in 2013 as a component of the NFL Football Officiating Academy.

How do you become an NFL referee?

According to NBC Sports, a person must have ten years of experience officiating American football games, with a minimum of five years of experience refereeing significant college games, in order to be considered for an NFL referee position.

According to NBC Sports, seasoned officials are often vetted and kept tabs on before being summoned to the NFL.

An NFL game would not be feasible without the referee. Becoming a referee in the National Football League requires the following:

The referees need to be able to stay on their feet for extended periods of time and even make quick sprints due to the fast-paced nature of the game. The increasing physical demands of the game require a high level of physical condition.

A large number of NFL officials have completed high school and are at least 18 years old. Having a bachelor’s degree in any major can greatly benefit your preparation for the position and your understanding of the game’s mechanics; however, it is not needed.

To be considered for this role, you need to have officiated football games before, either at the collegiate or high school level. Because of their status as a minor league training ground for future referees, college games are officiated with great importance.

Familiarity with the NFL Playbook: Good officiating isn’t enough; knowing the rules is crucial, too. Acquiring their knowledge will enable you to competently make split-second judgments in a high-pressure game.

Final thought

In conclusion, the compensation for NFL referees reflects the high level of responsibility and expertise required for officiating professional football games. The salary structure takes into account the years of experience, the position within the officiating crew, and the overall demands of the job.

While the exact figures may vary, with veteran officials earning more than their newer counterparts, it’s evident that NFL referees are well compensated for their crucial role in maintaining the integrity and fairness of the game.

The financial rewards, coupled with the passion for the sport, make officiating an attractive career for those with a deep understanding of the rules and a commitment to upholding the standards of the National Football League.


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