How Much Do NFL Referees Make?

Factors That Affect NFL Referees’ Pay

There are several factors that can influence the salaries of NFL referees. Here are some of the most significant ones:

  1. Experience: Like most jobs, experience can play a major role in determining a referee’s pay. The more experience a referee has, the higher their salary is likely to be.

  2. Performance: Referees are evaluated on their performance after every game. Those who consistently receive positive reviews may be rewarded with higher pay or better job assignments.

  3. Job Classification: There are several different types of NFL referees, including Head Referee, Umpire, and Line Judge, each with its own pay scale. Head Referees, for example, typically earn more than Line Judges.

  4. Collective Bargaining Agreement: The NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) dictates the terms of employment for referees. Negotiations between the NFL and the referees’ union can impact salaries and other compensation.

  5. Post-Season Assignments: Referees who are selected to officiate playoff games or the Super Bowl can earn significant bonuses on top of their regular salary.

These factors, among others, all contribute to the varying salaries of NFL referees.

Average Salary of NFL Referees

The average salary for an NFL referee during the 2021 season is $205,000, according to However, this number can vary significantly based on factors such as experience, job classification, and performance.

For example, Head Referees, who are in charge of the officiating crew during each game, typically earn more than other officials. In 2021, Head Referees can earn up to $550,000 per year, while Line Judges and Field Judges can earn up to $200,000.

It’s also important to note that NFL referees are part-time employees, meaning they work only during the regular season and are not compensated for off-season or preseason work. They also do not receive benefits such as health insurance or retirement plans from the NFL, as they are considered independent contractors.

Overall, while the average salary of NFL referees may seem high, it is important to consider the demanding nature of their job, which requires extensive training, travel, and a high level of expertise in the rules of the game.

Highest-Paid NFL Referees in History

While the average salary for NFL referees may be in the six-figure range, some referees have earned significantly more over the course of their careers. Here are some of the highest-paid NFL referees in history:

  1. Ed Hochuli: Hochuli served as an NFL referee from 1992 to 2018 and was known for his muscular build and extensive knowledge of the rulebook. He earned an estimated $4 million during his career, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

  2. Gene Steratore: Steratore officiated in the NFL from 2003 to 2018 and is perhaps best known for his controversial decision to use an index card to measure a first down during a game in 2017. He earned an estimated $3.3 million during his career, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

  3. Mike Carey: Carey served as an NFL referee from 1995 to 2014 and was the first African American referee to officiate a Super Bowl. He earned an estimated $4 million during his career, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

It’s worth noting that these estimates are based on public information and may not be entirely accurate. Additionally, the salaries of NFL referees have increased significantly in recent years, meaning that current referees may surpass these earnings over the course of their careers.

Future Outlook for NFL Referees’ Salaries

The salaries of NFL referees are subject to change over time based on various factors, including negotiations between the NFL and the referees’ union.

In 2019, the NFL and the NFL Referees Association (NFLRA) agreed to a new seven-year contract that increased the average salary for referees by 16% and included other benefits such as improved retirement plans and expanded rosters.

Additionally, the NFL has recently implemented new rules aimed at improving player safety, which could increase the workload and responsibilities of referees. This could potentially lead to increased salaries for referees who are able to handle these additional duties effectively.

Overall, while the salaries of NFL referees may continue to fluctuate over time, it is likely that they will remain in the six-figure range given the demanding nature of the job and the high level of expertise required.

Introduction to NFL Referees’ Salaries

NFL referees are responsible for enforcing the rules of the game and ensuring fair play on the field. They are highly trained professionals who must be knowledgeable about every aspect of the game and able to make quick decisions under pressure.

In return for their expertise, NFL referees are compensated with salaries that are among the highest in the sports officiating industry. However, the exact amount that referees earn can vary widely based on a number of factors, including experience, job classification, and performance.

Understanding the factors that affect NFL referees’ salaries can provide insight into the compensation structure for these important professionals and shed light on the various factors that influence their pay.

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