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While NBA refs might not have the same reputation as NBA players, they play a vital role. Have you ever seen an NBA referee make a challenging call? How much do refs make in the NBA?

The average income of an NBA referee may range between $180,000 and $550,000 per year. The average NBA referee income might reach $10,000 per NBA game in the first several rounds of the playoffs. The remuneration of NBA referees also increases to match.

To know more, let’s dive right into the article with Scott Fujita!

How Much Money Do NBA Refs Make?

According to the National Basketball Referees Association, the average basketball referee salary outside of the NBA is about $16 per hour, which equals roughly $33,000 per year.

Meanwhile, the average remuneration for an NBA referee may range from $180,000 to $550,000 per year. 

View more: How much do overseas basketball players make

Working for the multibillion-dollar league, which is the most-watched basketball league globally, guarantees a higher income than the typical basketball referee.

Additional incentives, privileges, and advantages that come with an NBA referee salary are frequently unequaled by other basketball referees and wage contracts.

What Is The Salary Of An NBA Referee?

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Basketball Referee Plays An Important Role

One would believe that the most challenging position in any sport is the players, who lead their teams to victory in games and arouse the spectators’ enthusiasm, transforming the sport into a corporation.

While this is true, the duty of the referee is more demanding. Referees must ensure a fair game despite continually being heckled by the audience if the referee’s judgment differs from the crowd’s perspective.

The NBA referees’ job is more difficult because the basketball court is enclosed, making the jeering audible. However, besides having a solid ethical conscience, referees must be physically fit to withstand the toll that a season may take on their bodies.

Referees need to run across the court for 48 minutes straight, with no pauses or the option of occupying a specific portion of the court, unlike the players. They must attentively track the ball across the basketball court for the game’s duration while keeping a close check on the players to avoid missing a foul. 

This capacity to balance the physical and mental demands of this profession is awe-inspiring. Is the NBA referee compensation sufficient to compensate for the challenging nature of the job? The average remuneration for an NBA referee may range from $180,000 to $550,000 per year. 

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So, why is there a difference in NBA referee salaries? The salary of an NBA referee differs depending on the job title and the referee’s experience. Entry-level refs, often known as rookies for the Women’s National Basketball Association, and senior-level refs are the three main categories of NBA officials. 

You have the potential to grow in this field. Transitioning from an entry-level to a senior-level referee requires up to five years of experience refereeing games. The WNBA referee salary is the lowest of these distinctions, with refs receiving roughly $425 each round. 

It works out to almost $180,000 every year. In the men’s league, the starting compensation for a rookie NBA referee is roughly $600 per game. It equates to about $250,000 each year. 

The most significant earnings, as predicted, are earned by professional NBA referees, who may expect to earn approximately $3,500 per game after several years in the league. It is a hefty $550,000 per year salary. 

After the regular season, senior-level NBA referees can earn extra money by referring to playoff games. It is only the base salary for an NBA referee, without including any other benefits that an NBA ref may receive. 

All free game tickets, signed items such as sneakers, and first-class flights to the games are among the perks. Referees in the NBA are also compensated well, with good medical insurance and retirement plans. 

Unfortunately, the WNBA’s pay is the lowest since the women’s season is substantially shorter and less watched, resulting in lower income for the firm. It means that WNBA referees and female teams in the league will be paid less. 

Because there are only ten women’s NBA teams that play one 34-game season, the NBA referee salary for women and men differs significantly.

How Much Do NBA Referees Make In The Play-Offs?

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Female Referee

An NBA season usually starts in October and lasts until April, with each team meeting its conference rivals three times and those from other leagues facing each other twice. As a result, each team will play 82 games. 

Following the conclusion of the regular season, the playoffs begin and last through June. Since 2016, the NBA has used a new play-off structure, a compelling elimination tournament that determines the championship winner. 

Teams must break into the top eight in their league to make the playoffs. A chance to work as a ref in the NBA playoffs is an additional source of income for officials. Because the teams are more renowned and the matches are more expected, the play-offs are more popular.

Related: How much do NBA players make

What Is The Average Salary Of An NBA Referee?

how much do nba refs make

Basketball Referees May Earn The Highest Salaries Among Other Sports

NBA referees have many salary classifications, just like any other job. They can earn better pay as their talents and years of expertise grow. 

Entry-level NBA refs are the most novice officials in the league, making around $250,000 per year or $600 per game on average. 

What Is The Average Salary Of An WNBA Referee?

Because the Women’s National Basketball Association is less successful than the NBA and has a shorter season, WNBA officials earn significantly less than NBA officials. 

In the WNBA, an entry-level referee makes an average of $16,000 a year, or $425 per game. While some sources indicate as high as $180,000 per year, there is significant controversy here.


Here are some frequently asked questions we have collected while researching this field.

How Much Do NBA Refs Make Per Game?

Because NBA referees are paid each game rather than annually, their pay may be very unpredictable. It is especially true during playoff games since the high stakes, and huge profit margins mean that the officials are paid significantly more than during regular matches. 

NBA playoff games are only officiated by the most excellent senior referees, who may expect to earn around $10,000 each game during the first two rounds and up to $30,000 each game in the semi-finals and finals.

Do NBA Referees Pay For Travel?

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This Job Requires Much Energy And Agility

No, they do not have to pay for their travel to the matches.

NBA referees, like the players, spend practically the entire season on the tour and travel to every game. The regular season lasts eight months, with postseason games stretching the season even further. Therefore, NBA referees travel 25 days per month on average. 

Because all of that travel may be costly, referees are compensated with benefits like flying stipends in addition to their per-game income. It implies that referees do not have to pay for their travel costs. 

However, because there isn’t much public information regarding how much the traveling stipends are, it is unclear if they cover the whole expense of travel.

How Does Average Income Of An NBA Referee Compare To Other Sports Officials?

Almost all the highest-paid NBA referees make more money than those from other sports. Basketball officiating necessitates quick decision-making, so that NBA referees are required to officiate close to the crowd, which adds to the tension. 

As a result, NBA positions are highly competitive, and the league has a stable career. Refereeing in any sport is still a rewarding job. 

On average, NFL referees earn around $205000 per year, NHL referees earn around $275000 annually, and MLB umpires make about $300000.

Final Thoughts

The amount a referee earns depends on the game’s significance and the referee’s expertise and reputation. After reading this article, we hope you can better understand how much do NBA refs make a year or so. 

If you are still unsatisfied with this article, you can refer to Scott Fujita for more helpful information. Thanks for reading!

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