how much do nfl refs make

How Much Do NFL Referees Make in 2022

A referee in a football game is very important in making very critical decisions. Referees enforce rules and help keep everything on the field in order. 

But how much do NFL refs make? According to multiple sources, referees in the NFL earn an average of $205,000 a season as of 2019. This is a huge increase compared to years before, when referees earned an average of $149,000. NFL referees are paid a flat fee and some payment per game.

However, there are various variations in how much NFL referees earn. This is because a game of football has up to 7 referees per game. The different referees take different positions on the field.

Join me below as I discuss referee salary in the NFL and how to become one.

Who Is an NFL Referee?

An NFL referee is the official in charge of the football game on the field. There are 7 NFL officials at every football game. Each official takes a different position. All these seven make what we call the NFL referees.

The seven officials perform specific roles in a game. They also have specific names to match their roles and positions in a football game. The different positions are as follows:

  • Referees who are the main leaders in the field
  • Umpires
  • Head linesman, also known as down judges
  • Line judges
  • Field judges, also known as back umpires
  • Side judges
  • Back judges and
  • Center judges

The referee in charge of overseeing the whole game is known as the head referee or the crew chief. The head referee is in charge of overseeing the entire game.

What Is the Average Salary of an NFL Referee Per Game?

On average, an NFL referee earns up to $1,500 per game. However, you’ll not hear the salary mentioned anywhere. Most information about referee pay comes from interviews and retired referees. The estimates are as of 2019.

In 2019 alone, referees made $205,000 on average a season. It was a big increase from $150K a year before.

american football player and referee on the field

NFL referees are not paid per game. Instead, they earn a fixed amount fee and a bonus for every game they referee.

The pay can also vary depending on the games the referees are involved in. Referees in postseason games will get better pay than those in in-season games.

How Much Do NFL Refs Make in 2022

NFL Refs will earn an average of $205,000 a season in 2022. In addition, they will receive a bonus of $1500-5000 per game. The payment, as indicated earlier, is done at a flat rate each season.

However, they earn an extra amount in the form of a bonus for every game they participate in. But, the amount is even higher for referees in the Super Bowl.

How Much Do NFL Refs Make For Super Bowl

There are no clear statistics that show how much refs in the Super Bowl make. However, they make more than refs in regular season games. Reports indicate that referees in the SuperBowls earn between $30,000 to $50 000 as of 2018.

Most of these figures by are arrived at by comparing player bonuses to referee bonuses. It’s a great amount when you consider refereeing is not a full-time job where you report every morning.

Who is the Highest Paid NFL Referee?

Brad Allen and Walter Anderson are among the highest-paid referees as of the 2020-2021 season. However, there are no clear figures on how much they earn as their salaries remain undisclosed.

We also have Sarah Thomas, who was the first woman to officiate in college football. She remains the highest-paid female college referee in major college football. Most NFL referees earn more with experience and attendance at in-season games.

Why Does the NFL Pay So Much?

The NFL pays so much because it’s a big and hot playground in America. After all, football is the most loved sport in America. The NFL operates as a sports association with an operating system.

It considers players and referees as employees, hence the good pay. Referees play a crucial role in the worth of the game. NFL is a successful brand with big endorsements and huge followings. So, it makes sense to pay referees good money.

Steps How to Become an NFL Referee?

Are you looking to become an NFL referee one day? It’s a good idea considering the good pay in the NFL. Below are some steps to follow.

american football referees

Step 1: Get One or More Degrees of Bachelor

Education is necessary to becoming an NFL referee. A bachelor’s degree in any field is a requirement.

Step 2: Know The Rules / NFL Rulebook

You need to learn the rules of the game. This will come in handy when making calls and judgments in football. A referee playbook rule is long, and one needs to commit time and understand all the rules.

Step 3: Go To Rules Clinic

Attending a rules football clinic will teach you everything you need to know about football rules. There are different football rules clinics. Make sure you choose one that suits your needs for future refereeing.

Step 4: Referee Local Football Games

You need some experience refereeing local football games. This is a great platform to gain some experience and learn to judge games. You can start from as low as refereeing children’s games and gain experience.

Step 5: Stay Physically Fit

Due to the nature of the job, referees need to be in top physical and mental shape. Games take a long time and involve a lot of running and jogging.

Step 6: Become Certified

You need to attend special training and become certified. Look for a football association and attend classes to become certified.

Step 7: Referee College Or Semi-Pro Games

You need at least five years of experience in college and semi-pro games.

Step 8: Accumulate Experiences

You need to accumulate experience by refereeing in major college events. At least ten years of experience is required to become a referee in the NFL.

american football referee on the field with players

Step 9: Keep Track Of Your Experiences

Have records of your experience through the many leagues. You’ll need this information together when making an application to be an NFL referee.

How Much Do NFL Referees Make FAQs

What are the NFL Officials?

The NFL officials are referees with specific duties during a football game. There are seven officials from the referee in charge, who is also known as the head referee. 

Other officials in a football game include field judges, back umpires, head linesman, line judges, side judges, and center and back judges.

Do NFL Referees Work a Full-Time or Part-Time Job?

NFL referees work a part-time job as they only officiate games. As such, they are not entitled to insurance benefits. But, referees in the NFL have a 401K plan and a matching contribution.

How Many Female Refs Are in the NFL?

There is only one female referee in the NFL. Sarah Thomas is the only female NFL referee.


There you go! Now you know how much NFL referees make. NFL referees are well paid, with most earning an average of $205 000 a season on top of a bonus for every game. This is pretty good pay when you consider refereeing is not a full-time job.

However, becoming a referee is not a simple walk-in job. There are steps to becoming an NFL referee.

Read More: How much do soccer players make? Let’s look at the salaries of some of the top soccer players in the world by reading here.

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