Here’s How Much NBA Referees Get Paid

nba refs

If you love basketball, are an experienced referee, and enjoy traveling, becoming an NBA referee may be an attractive career option. The occupation of a referee is to ensure that the game is fair for both sides. Instant replay and interpretation by players, fans, and coaches add an element of contention to the position. It takes years of networking and training with the right people to break into the job. You’ll want to start your journey as a student of the game and take advantage of every opportunity to learn about the job, to be selected for this coveted job. Once you break it into the pros, the NBA referee pay can be as much as $500,000 annually.

Job Description

An NBA referee pay is earned by spending twenty-five days on the road for 8 months during the year. If they’re fortunate to be selected for a fancied play-off job, it could be longer. Job duties include introducing the team, reviewing the rules with the players,  communicating with coaches, and overseeing the game itself. The work atmosphere is more than just the basketball court.

An NBA referee spends considerable time with the rule book and case book to ensure they are specialists in game regulations. Referees review game film to know about how they can enhance their skills. They also attend referee clinics and training camps to stay on top of the job requirements. Remaining in the robust physical condition is an on-going job duty.

Referees must be physically fit to keep with the fast-paced nature of the game and to prevent injury. In the off-season, many NBA referees teach summer clinics and referee camps for aspiring professional ranks. The ability to make split-second decisions, tough skin, and a keen awareness of the game rules are crucial for this job.

Education Requirements

The path to becoming an NBA referee begins at a tender age. If this position is your career goal, you’ll want to begin by serving as a referee for youth sports. You can take officiating classes in your nearest community to be certified at the youth stage. As you advance, you will move on to the high school stage by becoming certified by a program sanctioned by the NFHS (National Federation of State High School Association).

The next step is to earn your credentials to referee at the collegiate stage. Depending upon the stage, you’ll go through a program governed by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, National Junior College Athletic Association,  or the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association).

Even at the collegiate stage, the competition is brutal. After years of experience in an advanced stage, you’ll be ready to vie for a place in the NBA. NBA scouts recruit candidates that view live events at the upper stages of play. Approximately a hundred candidates are invited to take part in exclusive referee camps. If you make the cut, you’ll be encouraged to take part in the G League or summer league.

Seasoned referees provide training and guidance to potential referees in these leagues. Summer League participants are held for advanced developmental training. The final recommendation for hire into the WNBA or NBA comes from partaking in the G League.


An NBA referee works some of the time on a home court and the remaining in basketball arenas across the country. You can expect to work 8 months annually. Games can be on weekends and on weekdays.

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How Much Do NBA referees Make

An NBA referee salary varies by years of experience and assignment. If they’re assigned to the WNBA, they can hope to make an annual salary of $180,000 or $425 per game. New referees for the NBA begin at $250,000 per year or $600 per game.

Professional or Seasoned referees earn $500,000 annually or $3,500 per game. You can become a professional referee, after 3 to 5 years of service. Compensation packages include insurance, travel stipends, and retirement benefits. If you’re selected to referee a final game or play-off, you can make between $850 and $5050 per game, depending upon your rank.

Job Growth Trend

From 2018 to 2028, the BLS projected a six percent increase in job growth for referees, umpires, and other sports officials. Turnover in the NBA is little, given the enormous salaries and competitive nature of the job.(1)