How Much Do NBA Referees Make? NBA Referee Salary in 2023 

How Much Do NBA Referees Make? NBA Referee Salary in 2023
How Much Do NBA Referees Make? NBA Referee Salary in 2023

As with any other profession, there are several tiers for how much NBA referees make.  As they acquire more skills and years of experience, they can earn a higher salary. 

There isn’t a lot of transparency around referee salaries, so there’s some conflicting information, but here’s a general idea of ​​how much they seem to earn.

While basketball referees will certainly never earn the salary of Kevin Durant or LeBron James, NBA referees are paid quite well for their efforts and receive a large annual salary with benefits.

NBA Referees Job Description

Playing a critical role in every game, NBA referees do more than enforce the rules.  They maintain the integrity of the world’s top basketball league, which consists of 30 teams, 120 preseason games, 1,260 regular season games, and 4 rounds of playoffs. 

These are the officials who control the competition every second, every minute, making calls with high precision.  In addition to confidence, rigor and intelligence, an NBA referee must be well aware of all the requirements of the referee’s position. 

They are required to effectively bond the crew together through consistency, teamwork and communication.  They are also capable of handling some plays in secondary coverage areas. 

And most importantly, they have the ability and awareness to recognize changes in playing conditions (intensity, emotion, style of play, etc.) and manage them accordingly. 

Apart from the athletes, the referee’s physical training is also vital.  To make sure they are always in the right place to make the right call, they need to run up and down the court the entire game without a substitution or water break.

ALSO CHECK: NBA Floor Cleaner Salary in the US | How Much Do NBA Floor Cleaners Make in 2023? – (Updated)

How Much Do NBA Referees Make Per Match? 

Professional NBA referees are typically paid $7,000 to officiate one NBA game.  However, for playoff games, they receive a higher amount of money of $9,000. 

If they get the chance to officiate an NBA semifinal or season finale, they get paid up to $29,000 for that special duty.  Entry level referees are paid much less than senior referees as they are only paid $2k to officiate a game. 

Female referees are the lowest paid in the NBA, earning between $450 and $500 per game.

ALSO CHECK: Garbage Truck Driver Salary in The US | How Much Do A Garbage Truck Driver Make in 2023? (Updated)

How Much Do NBA Referees Make Yearly? 

As with other popular sports in the US, professional referees in the NBA also take home six-figure salaries.  The most highly paid of them earn about 550 thousand US dollars per year, which is quite profitable. 

Although entry-level judges also earn 6-figure annual salaries, they earn much less than senior judges.  Junior officials can earn up to 150 thousand US dollars per year. 

However, the annual salaries of female referees do not even come close to the salaries of male officials.  Female arbitrators are expected to earn around $16,000, much less.

ALSO CHECK: Logistics Coordinator Salary in US | 2023

Do MBA Referees Pay Out Of Pocket For All Of Their Travel Expenses?

Just like the players, NBA referees work almost full-time during the season and travel to every game.  The regular season lasts eight months, and postseason games can last even longer.  On average, NBA referees travel 25 days each month.

All of this travel can be expensive, so in addition to the game pay, referees receive perks like travel stipends as part of their compensation package.  This means that MBA referees will not have to pay all their travel expenses out of pocket. 

However, there is not much public information about how much travel stipends actually cost, so it is unclear whether these stipends cover the entire cost of travel.

ALSO CHECK: Principal Salary in the US | How Much Do A Principal Make in 2023? (Updated)

How Much Do Entry-Level NBA Referees Make?

Entry-level NBA referees are the youngest NBA officials and can expect to earn, on average, around $250,000 per year, or $600 per game.  And while they’re the youngest officials in the NBA, that doesn’t mean they’re new to the sport. 

NBA referees usually work their way up from youth or high school leagues to the NCAA.  Then only the most talented referees make it to the G League and then the NBA.

How Much Do NBA Referees Make During Playoff Games?

While NBA referee salaries increase during the playoffs, only the most senior and experienced referees become the highest paid NBA referees. 

During the playoffs, NBA referees can earn up to $10,000 per game in the first two rounds.  This further increase to over $30,000 per game for NBA referee salaries for officials involved in the finals and semi-finals.

The work of a full-time NBA referee usually lasts 8 months a year. found that the average NBA referee salary ranges from $150,000 to $550,000 depending on the referee’s experience. 

Other attractive incentives in addition to the salary of an NBA referee include travel stipends, insurance and retirement benefits.

ALSO CHECK: Sheriff Salary in the US | How Much Do A Sheriff Make in 2023? – (Updated)

What Are The Highest Paid NBA Referees?

Scott Foster

Foster played in 1,477 NBA regular season games and 187 playoff games, including 19 Finals appearances, starting in 1994-95.  He also managed the 1996 European tour in Spain and Germany. 

The veteran umpire served in the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) for two years and played a pivotal role in the 2010 All-Star Game.  His estimated salary for each season he worked is $550,000.

Rodney Mott

Mott played 1,255 regular season games and 35 playoff games, earning a respectable record in 23 seasons in the league.  His salary is estimated at $550,000 a year.

Tony Brothers

Tony served as a CBA official for four years, officiating over 1,466 regular season games and over 140 playoff games.  With the NBA since the 1994-95 season, Brothers is an experienced official who earns approximately $550,000 per year.

Sean Corbin

Corbin was a basketball player early in his career before moving to the refereeing side.  Since then, he has played more than 1,300 regular season games and 79 playoff appearances. 

In 1999, Corbin witnessed the triple overtime thriller that took place on February 17th between the Boston Celtics and the Vancouver Grizzlies.  His salary as a professional official is $550,000.

James Capers

Currently co-chairing the NBA Finals alongside Scott Foster, James Capers has overseen more than 135 playoff games, including 10 Finals. 

As a professional umpire with extensive experience, Capers has officiated 1,357 games over 24 seasons, been with the CBA for six years and has been to three championship games and two All-Star games.  Capers’ annual salary is estimated to be around $550,000.


NBA officials tend to get the most out of all professional sports.  The justification for basketball refereeing is that it requires quick judgment.  Also, NBA referees have to officiate very close to the fans, which makes it even more stressful. 

That’s why NBA jobs are very competitive, and turnover in the league is low.  However, refereeing in any sport is still a profitable business.  On average, NFL umpires make about $205,000 a year, NHL umpires make about $275,000 a year, and MLB umpires make about $300,000 a year.

How Much Do NBA Referees Make FAQs

Is Being An NBA Referee Worth It?

NBA referees often find themselves in the spotlight during games.  From players to fans, everyone involved in the game sees referees being attacked during the game.  From controversial decisions to not calling fouls, referees are an integral part of every game.  However, even though they have a tough job, the salary of an NBA referee goes a long way towards making the profession desirable.

What Is The Requirement To Be An NBA Referee?

The requirements for candidates for NBA refereeing are outlined on the NBA’s official website.  Candidate profiles, including referee videos and work history, are reviewed by the NBA’s scouting team.  However, you can also work your way through different basketball leagues to become an NBA referee.  A combination of basketball experience and interpersonal skills are what NBA referees need to be successful in their roles.

Editor’s Recommendation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like