How much do NFL refs make?

The media and fans criticize the NFL for various reasons, including its officiating. Sure, it might be time for a change on the field, but do you know how much an NFL referee makes?

What is the NFL Salary Cap?

A common question that NFL fans have is, “what is the NFL salary cap?” The salary cap for the NFL is set at $143 million for the 2016 season. This limit is based on a percentage of league revenue. The salary cap increases annually by 3 percent, which means it will rise to $155 million in 2017. However, teams can exceed the cap by up to $8 million in any season.

How Much Money Do NFL Referees Make?

NFL referees typically make anywhere from $41,000 to $164,000 per year. The average referee’s Salary in 2016 was $122,000.

The Difference Between the Ringside and Referee Salary

  • NFL referees make a lot less than their NBA counterparts. For example, the NFL’s top referee, Tony Corrente, makes $225,000 annually, while the NBA’s chief referee, Joey Crawford, takes in $3 million. This discrepancy is due to the different structures of the leagues and the way their officiating is run.
  • In the NFL, referees are not unionized and do not receive a percentage of the revenue generated by officiating. This means that NFL referees are not eligible for benefits such as health insurance and retirement savings plan available to other NFL employees. Many NFL referees must supplement their income through different jobs to meet ends.
  • On the other hand, NBA referees are unionized and receive a percentage of the revenue generated by officiating. This means that NBA referees can enjoy health insurance and retirement savings plans. In addition, NBA referees make significantly more than NFL referees. For example, Joey Crawford makes $3 million annually while Tony Corrente earns $225,000.
  • There are several reasons why NFL referees make less money than NBA referees. One reason is that the NFL does not offer any benefits to its refs, which means that they have

Benefits of the NFL Career

  • NFL referees make a median salary of $92,000 annually, according to This figure includes base Salary, bonuses and benefits. To become an NFL referee, one must first pass a challenging application process that provides for passing a physical and psychological exam. After being selected, referees must attend NFL referee training school for six weeks.
  • The importance of quality officiating cannot be overstated. Incorrect calls can have serious consequences on the field and in the courtroom. As such, NFL referees are highly sought-after professionals. Their skills and experience are highly valued by both the league and its fans.
  • Excellent pay and benefits package: NFL referees earn a median salary of $92,000 annually, including base Salary and bonuses and benefits. This is significantly higher than the national average salary for all jobs in the United States. In addition, referees receive medical and dental insurance, life insurance, retirement savings plans, and other benefits that can significantly impact their lives.


There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the amount of money NFL referees make can vary greatly depending on their experience and success. However, a typical starting salary for an NFL referee starts at around $43,000 per year and goes up. So if you’re keen on becoming an NFL referee, be prepared to put in some long hours and challenging training sessions – it’s not a career for the faint of heart!

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