The sports industry in the United States cycles billions of dollars a year, and a large portion of that is going to a profession that is usually unthought of by many. This profession of course is being a referee. It is a profession where an individual can sign up and start making $50+ an hour within a matter of days. A large portion of the demand for referees is coming from the youth sports industry. The youth sports industry alone in the United States consists of millions of athletes, which in turn produces hundreds of thousands of games annually that require referees. Due to this massive sports economy, professions in the industry can be incredibly lucrative, especially for referees.

How Much Money Do Football Referees Make

On a professional level, NFL referees can make up to $12,000 per game. However, becoming a professional NFL official is not an easy task. If you wish to enter this field at a starting position you are looking at a considerably lower average. Most High school football officials and referees are paid on a game-to-game basis. This amount varies across the United States based on things like the cost of living and how many referees are needed based on supply and demand. According to, a job, and industry monitoring website, the average hourly rate for a football referee is $16.26 per hour. Again, considering how much money referees make in football, a lot of it comes down to location and qualifications.

How Much Money Do Hockey Referees Make

An NHL referee can make up to $388,000 a year. An impressive figure but likely not what most of our readers are pursuing. This figure means that NHL referees likely make between $1000 and $4000 every single game. While our reader may be looking for an entry-level position it is still interesting to see where it can take you. Referees at the youth hockey level can generate up to $70 per game. On an hourly basis, youth officials typically make $25-$35 per hour.

How Much Money Do Basketball Referees Make

An NBA-caliber referee is making $500,000 dollars a year. This is the equivalent of $3000-$6000 per game. As you go lower in the tiers of skill level the average amount per game drops. In Division 3, college-level referees make $125 a game while the youth basketball referees or entry-level referees for basketball make considerably less at only $60 per game.

How Much Money Do Baseball Umpires Make

MLB umpires start at an entry-level $150,000 but can make up to $450,000 after gaining more experience. However, due to the number of games played in the MLB, the umpires make considerably less than the NFL referees. With fewer games being played, NFL referees are often pulling in up to $12,000 per game while MLB umpires are closer to $1,500. At a youth level, baseball umpiring can be more profitable however than other sports. They can make up to $80 per game based on supply and demand however, averages are around $50 per game.

How To Become A Sports Official Today

For one who desires to become a sports official, it only takes a matter of days until you can be making money for officiating events. The first step is going to be deciding which sport you want to officiate based on your skills and the benefits provided to officials in the particular sport. 

The next step is going to be doing some research about how an official within that sport gets certified locally. For example, in Minneapolis Minnesota, there is a massive youth hockey market, so getting certified to be a USA Hockey referee would be a smart idea. To learn how to get certified to be a USA Hockey referee check out this article written by Refr Sports.

Regardless of where you are located and what sports you have knowledge of, there will be an opportunity for you locally to officiate. If you have any questions about becoming an official please check out our platform and get connected today.