How Much Do NFL Refs Make?

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It's the age old question we all ask while watching the annual Super Bowl... how much do NFL refs make? On the surface level, being a referee sounds like a pretty easy gig, but the opposite is true.

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The job of a referee is one of the hardest and thankless professions around. More often than not, you're gonna have one fanbase upset and blaming a loss on you. Love them or hate them, the referees are still going to get their bag whether your team loses or winners.

Here is how much NFL refs make:

NFL Refs Regular Season Salary

The NFL does not officially release their salary figures for officials and some front-office members, but through speculation there has been a means to find the average salary for refs in the regular season. According to Sporting News, the average NFL ref is earning a salary of around $205,000. The largest earner as a referee in the NFL comes in at around $250,000 per year. There are incentives or other ways for refs to earn bonuses throughout the season as well.

NFL referees are also not paid on a game-to-game basis, but rather in one flat salary. This means that each season the refs will be assigned a number of games and their salary will reflect that.

This is very different from how the pay-rate for players works. Each week players will earn a game check which includes a partial amount of their salary plus bonus incentives.

How Much Do NFL Refs Earn in the Playoffs

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If a ref is assigned to a playoff game, their base salary is not bumped at all. They will still earn the flat rate of their salary they were earning in the regular season. However, refs can earn bonuses anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 per playoff game.

Making it to the big game is a different story. Referring a Super Bowl comes at a similar payrate as the normal playoff games, as refs will earn their flate rate annual salary. The big kicker though, refs can earn bonuses of $40-$50,000 for the Super Bowl. That is a huge spike and nearly a quarter of their annual salary.

Is Being An NFL Ref a Full Time Job?

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Being an NFL ref is extremely demanding and requires year round practice. NFL referees however are not deemed full-time employees. They receive no benefits as being part of the NFL, but are enrolled in 401k plans.

Many referees will attend summer camps to hone in on their skills or to help mentor other referees. Like the NFL, the referees are a band of brothers who constantly life each other up. It is one of the oldest and truest fraternities in sports.

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