How much does an American football referee earn?

Written by george n. root iii
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How much does an American football referee earn?
NFL officials can earn up to £45,500 a season, as of 2009. (Football official standing next to football image by Pezography from

Information regarding the amount of money paid to NFL referees and other NFL game officials is not released to the public. According to an interview with NFL referee Gene Steratore in the "Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel," the officials are paid based on seniority and not on their position within the crew.

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According to the Job Employment Guide website, the annual salary for an NFL on-field official can range from £16,250 per year up to £45,500 per year.


Each NFL officiating crew consists of seven officials including the referee. A total of 119 active NFL officials work on 17 different crews.

Earnings compared

Major League Baseball umpires make an average of £91,650 per year; NBA referees earn approximately £83,200 per year; and NHL officials earn an average of £90,350 per year. This places NFL referees at the bottom of the professional sports official pay scale. It's worth noting, however, that NFL referees work one game per week, while officials in other sports work multiple games.


Prior to the 2001 season, the NFL referees demanded higher pay and were denied by the league. The league prepared to start the season with replacement referees rather than meet the demands of their existing officials.

Fun fact

The first African-American NFL referee was Johnny Grier who made his regular season debut on Sept. 4, 1988.

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