When it comes to money made in the NFL, it’s no secret as to how much players and coaches make. Being one of the top money-making machines in sports, lucrative contracts are given out left and right in today’s NFL.
But how about the officials? They need to get paid as well, having to officiate the game and keep players' safety in mind. Even though they don’t always get things right -- and we often still don’t know what a catch is or what constitutes roughing the passer -- refs are still fairly compensated.
Here’s everything you need to know about NFL officials’ pay.
How much do NFL officials make?
Seeing that paycheck hit your bank account as an NFL official makes it a lot easier to tolerate head coaches yelling at you.
It is estimated that the average NFL official makes about $205,000 a year. Each official’s pay will depend on the position they have on the crew, as well as how long they have been in the league.
Officials are considered to be part-time employees of the NFL. As a result, they don’t receive insurance benefits. However, they do have a 401k plan with a partial matching contribution. They also have representation from the NFL Referees Association.
How much does an NFL official make for working the Super Bowl?
Getting the opportunity to officiate the Super Bowl is a high honor. But it also comes with a nice payday as well.
While the exact number is not known, the most commonly reported number as of 2019 was between $40,000-$50,000. There is also an increased amount made for other playoff games, while the Super Bowl offers the biggest paycheck.
What are the different positions for an NFL official?
Despite all being technically “officials,” the eight-man crew for an NFL game is made up of different titles.
There are eight different positions for an officiating crew for each NFL game. There is the referee, umpire, line judge, side judge, down judge, back judge, field judge and replay official. All the officials minus the replay official are on the field during play.
The referee is also referred to as the crew chief. That person will oversee all of the other officials and is the one you see making the calls on the field. It’s easy to identify the referee as the one official who wears the white cap.
All of the other officials have varying responsibilities, such as looking for pass interference, offsides, delay of game or other infractions.
How does someone become an NFL ref?
The NFL requires that an official have at least 10 years of officiating football before being considered to be an NFL official. Out of those 10 years, at least five of them must include major college games.
But before then, there is a ton of training that goes into it. You can take classes and attend programs to study the game of football and get tips on officiating football. From there, most will register with their state so that they are certified to officiate games.
From there, it is about gaining as much experience as possible. Whether that’s Pop Warner football or high school, officials only will learn if they are out there in the action. Getting certified to officiate higher levels will help with reaching the NFL level.
The final step is to get noticed. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as getting scouted as a football official. These scouts attend college football games in order to see who can get brought up to the big lights.
Who is the highest-paid ref in the NFL?
As of 2022, the highest-paid refs are below:
Although Anderson retired from officiating in 2019, he was making $250,000 a year.
It is estimated that Allen's current salary, including per-game bonuses, is $250,000.
It is estimated that Wrolstad earns $250,000 a year.
Corrente's estimated salary is $230,000 as he brings in $40,000 for a 16-game season.
Boston makes an estimated amount of $205,000 per year.