NBA Referees Salary: How Much Do Referees Make Per Game?


Every year, a total of 30 teams participate in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Each team in an NBA plays at least 82 regular season games with the top teams in a season playing more than that. Apart from the players, coaches and the workers, the most important person in an NBA game is the referee.

The annual salary of an NBA referee ranges from $150,000 to $550,000. What is the per game salary of an NBA referee? or how much salary NBA referees earn compared to other leagues? Keep on reading to find out.

What Does an NBA Referee Do?

A referee plays an important role in every sport especially in basketball as every minute detail of the event is significant and might change the outcome of the game if not given the necessary attention. Correct judgmental skills and good decision making are the two vital requirements of an NBA referee as the proceedings of the game depends on the referee.

NBA is an international association which demands expert facilitators. The NBA referees are experts who are responsible for checking any violations in the play and crediting points to the teams. They keep the game in proper order by taking necessary decisions and making appropriate judgment calls. The referees are multi-taskers who are expected to be alert all the time when the ball is in play. He is in charge of managing the game according to the rules framed for the game.

To know all the rules, to make quick and spot-on decisions under duress is a hectic job. The prerequisite for an NBA referee is to stay physically fit in order to run along with the players and make the correct calls. Check out this interesting article to learn how NBA referees keep up with this fast-paced game.

The average salary of NBA referee ranges from $150,000 to $550,000

The Average Salary of an NBA Referee

We do know that the NBA team as a whole gets an average value of $1.25 billion which is further assigned to the players. But what about NBA referees, they also train and do a great deal of traveling. The average salary of an NBA referee sits somewhere between $150,000 and $550,000. Since 1983, the average salary has considerably increased, when NBA officials earned between $18,146 and $78,259 each season (via

Entry-level NBA referees

The entry-level referees are estimated to get an average salary of $150,000 per year. The National Basketball Referees Association (NBRA) tried to negotiate in 2009, claiming that number to be somewhat lower – $91,000.

Senior Referees

The senior referees get well-paid with average earnings of $550,000 per year. Even this number was controversial, as previously the NBRA claimed that the actual earning is $400,000 per year.

WNBA Referees

The WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) referees mostly work part-time since they get a very low payment of $500 per game or $16,000 per year.

NBA Referees Salary

OfficialsPer match earningsAnnual earnings
Professional referee$3,500$500,000
Entry-level referee$600$250,000
WNBA referee$425$180,000

How Much Does an NBA Referee Earn Per Game?

On a per game basis, an NBA referee gets a better payout. Since the range is fixed between $150,000 and $500,000 and the regular number of games in a league is 82, hence it is easy to determine per game payment of an NBA referee.

Annual salaryPer game salaryRegular season games

Therefore for 48 minutes of sweat, an NBA referee gets an average salary per game in the range from $1,829 to $6,707.

Comparing NBA Referees Salary to Other Major Sports League

In every sport, the role of a referee or an umpire is the most important one as they hold the responsibility of presiding over the event. The pay scale of each referee differs as per the sport, league and season.

The salary range of NBA referees is more than that of other major sports leagues referees like NHL referees and MLB umpires but less when compared to NFL referees. The overall salary range of major sports leagues are listed below:

LeagueSalary Range
NFL Referee$173,000 to $650,000
MLB Umpire$150,000 to $450,000
NHL Referee$165,000 to $400,000
NBA Referee$150,000 to $550,000

Do you think NBA referees deserve the salary they earn? If you are not sure, watch the above NBA referees moments video and decide for yourself.


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