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NFL Referee Salary – Average Salary of an NFL Referee

, , / June 9, 2014

NFL Referee Salaries

The National Football League (NFL) pays its many referees top dollar depending on how much experience they have in the job. Here are a few NFL referee facts that you may not know:

In 2012 and 2013—

Rookie NFL referees earned a salary of $50,000.

NFL referees with average experience earned $149,000 per year.

Veteran NFL referees were earning $160,000 salaries in 2012 and 2013.

The salary of NFL referees has been increasing.

By 2013 and 2014—

Rookie referees were earning $78,000 per year.

Referees with average experience have been earning $173,000 per year.

Seasoned referees have been earning $205,000 for the year.

By 2018 NFL referees are expected to earn a salary of $210,000.

You may be asking: Why such a salary increase?

Football RefereeNFL-Referee-Ed-Hochuli-Salary

Referee’s Union

In 2012, the NFL had a referee lockout. This labor dispute resulted in the NFL hiring replacement referees who were noticeably unqualified to ref at the professional level. This decision led to criticism from the media who called the replacement refs an embarrassment.

The use of unqualified referees even led to objection from the NFLPA (National Football League Player’s Association) who worried for the integrity of the game as well as their own safety in light of what they called “simple greed” in a statement released to the team owners of the league.

In September of 2012, referees voted to approve a new 8- year contract with the league. The Referee’s Union struck a deal with the NFL to raise their salaries by anywhere from 5% to 11% each year. While this may seem like a significant increase, NFL officials noted that their demands amounted to an annual cost of $3.2 million to the NFL, whose revenue is in the realm of $9 billion. The officials must have also taken into consideration the amount of missed Super Bowl parties when attempting to hash out the deal.

Notable NFL Referees

Ed Hochuli is an NFL referee with an average yearly salary of $149,000. He has been a referee in pro football since 1992 and is currently among NFL history’s most famous referees. Many Championship games and Super Bowl games have been refereed by Ed Hochuli. When he’s not keeping the gridiron in check, he is also a partner in an Arizona law firm.


NFL referee salary raises are meant to reflect the costs of travel from NFL game to NFL game and money that must be spent on meeting fees.

In addition to the salary each NFL referee gets, they are also entitled to a 401K plan in which the NFL deposits an average of $20,000 per referee.

Salary Breakdown

A referee that earns a yearly $70,000 salary from the NFL makes $291.76 per day. This works out to be a weekly salary of $1,458 and a monthly salary of $5,833 every month.

The average NFL referee works 16 weeks each year. Mike Carey is among the NFL referees that earn a yearly salary of $70,000, having just started in 2013.

Looking at this breakdown, NFL referees make a more than liveable salary in the U.S.

Not only do they get paid to watch their favourite game, they have the best seat in the house!

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