If you watch any professional sports league game, you cannot miss the men and women in black and white stripes who enforce the rules of the game, ensure player safety and even get derided by the fans. In the United States, professional referees work in popular sports such as football, basketball, hockey and baseball predominantly, but may be seen in other sports as well. In some instances, they work part time and have outside jobs. In other cases, they earn significant yearly salaries and work year-round.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010-11 Occupational Outlook Handbook, professional referees in the United States earned $23,780annually as of 2008. The highest salaries equaled more than $48,000 annually while the lowest earners made less than $20,000 annually. Simplyhired.com lists the average salary for referees at $32,000 annually as of 2011.
In professional sport leagues such as the National Football League, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and National Hockey League, referees can earn six-figure salaries annually. While National Football League referees only work part-time, as of 2011, NFL paid them an average between $25,000 and $70,000 per season. Senior referees with 20 years experience earn as much $120,000 annually. NFL referees work in other careers such as law enforcement and law. NBA referees earn an average salary between $100,000 and $300,000. Major League Baseball referees, or umpires, earn approximately $120,000 yearly compared to National Hockey League referees who earn between $110,000 and $255,000 yearly.
Other Pro Referees
In professional boxing, fight promoters generally pay referees. As such, boxing referees may earn between $150 and $25,000. Top referees earn the higher end of this salary range. Mixed martial arts, or MMA referees, the sport's athletic commissioner pays them between $200 and $1,200 dollars per fight. Simplyhired.com states that the average salary for professional soccer referees is $21,000 s of 2011.
Referees in collegiate sports are also part time referees who must manage other jobs. Collegiate sports are in the amateur sports category and referees on this level earn between $34,000 and $56,000 annually as of 2011. According to a September 2010 article for ESPN's "Outside the Lines" publication, referees for Division I basketball games earn roughly $50,000 yearly if they are able to work between 40 and 60 games during the year.
- Bureau of Labor Statstics: Athletes, Coaches, Umpires
- Simply Hired: Average Referee Salaries
- Football-Refs.com: NFL and NCAA Referees
- ESPN; Calling an NCAA game, As an Amateur; Mark Fainaru-Wara; September 2010
- Super Scholar: Referee
- Maxizip.com: Boxing Referee Job Description
- Elite MMA Referee School: MMA FAQ's
- Simply Hired: Average Soccer Referee Salaries