Are you curious about what NFL referees make, and what it takes to become one? You’re in luck! In this article, you’ll learn all about the salaries, qualifications, training, certification, job duties, and career outlook of an NFL referee.

So, read on to find out how much an NFL referee makes and the requirements to become one.


You may be wondering what the salary for NFL referees is. Referees at the professional level make an average annual salary of $205,000 per year. However, salaries for high-level referees can range from $200,000 to $300,000 per year.

Referees who work on the field for playoff and championship games can earn up to $25,000 per game. The highest-paid referees are those who work as part of the officiating crew for the Super Bowl. They can earn as much as $30,000 for the game.

The salaries of NFL referees are based on experience level, performance, and responsibility. Referees at lower levels of the game can make as little as $2,000 per game.


To become an NFL referee, applicants must possess certain skills and qualifications. These include good communication, great decision-making abilities, and the ability to handle stress. In terms of qualifications, applicants must have at least 5 years of officiating experience and must pass written and physical tests. They are also required to attend a training program. However, having the qualifications alone is not enough to become an NFL referee. Candidates must also demonstrate the skill to stay focused and be in control of a game. They must remain impartial and unbiased while evaluating a situation. Additionally, referees must be able to communicate their decisions in a timely manner.


Once candidates have the qualifications, they must attend a training program to demonstrate their skills and knowledge in order to become an NFL referee. The program is held for two weeks in the summer, and is composed of classroom and field training. In the classroom, referees learn the rules and regulations of the game, as well as the mechanics of officiating a game. On the field, they practice officiating drills and scrimmages.

Topics Classroom Field
Rules & Regulations ✔️
Officiating Mechanics ✔️ ✔️
Officiating Drills ✔️
Scrimmages ✔️

At the end of the program, referees are tested and evaluated. Those who pass the program are eligible to become NFL referees. Referees must be re-evaluated every year and attend refresher courses to stay up-to-date with the rules and regulations of the game.


Once certified, NFL referees are ready to officiate games and earn a salary.

To become certified, referees must complete two courses:

Job Duties

As an NFL referee, you must be able to make quick decisions in a high-pressure environment. Your job duties include being the game’s official authority, checking players for uniform violations, and being able to detect holding and pass interference. You must also be able to spot illegal formations and review instant replay when needed. Additionally, referees must be well versed in the rules of the game, as well as have a good sense of sportsmanship.

Duty Description
Official Authority Make decisions during the game and handle any disputes
Uniform Violations Check players for violations of the uniform rules
Holding and Pass Interference Spot violations during plays
Illegal Formations Detect any violations of the formation rules
Instant Replay Review any plays that are challenged by coaches
Rules of the Game Be knowledgeable of the rules of the game
Sportsmanship Have a good understanding of sportsmanship and be able to enforce it

Career Outlook

Now that you know the job duties of an NFL referee, you may be wondering what the career outlook is like for this profession. The average NFL referee earns around $200,000 per year and can expect to make more as they gain experience. Referees can also become eligible for retirement benefits after five years of service.

The career outlook for an NFL referee is very good. Referees typically enjoy job security, competitive salaries, and the chance to travel to various stadiums and locations. Referees also have the opportunity to participate in a number of special events, such as the Super Bowl and other championship games.

The job of an NFL referee is highly sought after, and competition for positions can be fierce. Potential referees are expected to have excellent communication skills and knowledge of the rules of the game. Additionally, referees must be physically fit and able to withstand the rigors of a professional game. Finally, referees must have a high level of integrity and be able to maintain a professional demeanor at all times.

These are just a few of the requirements to become an NFL referee, but they offer insight into the career outlook for this profession. With the right qualifications, anyone can pursue a career as an NFL referee and enjoy a rewarding and lucrative career.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Hiring Process Like for NFL Referees?

You need to be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma to become an NFL referee. You must also have experience officiating college or amateur football games. The NFL also looks for candidates with strong communication and decision-making skills. Once you apply, you’ll need to pass an exam and attend a training camp.

How Often Are NFL Referees Evaluated?

You’re evaluated after each game and at the end of the season. Referees must maintain a high level of accuracy and consistency to remain on the job.

What Types of Benefits Do NFL Referees Receive?

You receive a generous salary, health insurance benefits, pension plan, and other perks as an NFL referee.

Are There Any Age Restrictions for NFL Referees?

Yes, there are age restrictions for NFL referees. You must be at least 18 years old to become a referee and the maximum age to start officiating is 65.

Are There Any Other Job Opportunities Available for Former NFL Referees?

Yes, there are other job opportunities available for former NFL referees. They can become coaches, game analysts, or work in scouting departments. They can also pursue roles in the media or even enter the corporate world.


Being an NFL referee is a demanding job, but the rewards are great. The salary is competitive, and the qualifications are high.

With the right training and certification, you can become an NFL referee and be part of the action. If you’re passionate about the game and have the right skills, becoming an NFL referee can be a great career choice.