What kinds of salaries and benefits do referees in professional sports get?

By Quora Published on Oct. 16, 2015

How much does a professional referee get paid? Originally answered on Dec. 3rd, 2013

Answer by Tom Stagliano, high school, college, and adult amateur soccer referee:

Here are the numbers that I am familiar with:

Major League Baseball umpires earn a "minimum", which is the same as a rookie baseball player's salary. Several years ago that was at least $200,000 per year (plus expenses).

NHL referees start at roughly $120,000 per year while linesmen start at roughly $75,000 per year. An experienced NHL referee or linesman can double that amount.

I know that college basketball referees (D-1 men's NCAA games) make over $2,000 per game and work about 70 games per season. Therefore, the NBA referees will start at closer to $200,000 per year.

NFL referees are not full-time officials, and are restricted to making less than 50% of their annual earnings from refereeing NFL games. However, many of the NFL referees are professionals making much more than $100,000 per year from their "day jobs", so they are very well paid part-time officials. On the other hand, MLS soccer referees make only $500 to $800 per game, for maybe 24 games per year, and Assistant Referees make a lot less. Therefore, soccer refereeing in the USA is strictly a part-time job. However, the MLS does employ four referees full time for $40,000 to $60,000 per year in addition to what they make per game. Still a lot less than NFL, NBA, NHL, or MLB referees/umpires.

Note that minor league referees earn a lot less, especially in baseball. It is tough for a AA or AAA umpire to make a living to support a family, and many will give up if they don't see a good chance of making it to the MLB level.

All officials for professional games get expenses in addition to their game pay or seasonal salary. Additionally, these jobs are only for part of the year. Many of these referees make additional money from owning small businesses and/or training rookie officials.