NBA Referee Salary in 2024: How Much Are They Getting Paid?

NBA referee salary - how much does an nba referee naje

Have you wondered how much the NBA referees are paid annually? Salaries for sports officials vary depending on the type of sport and league. Well, basketball referees are reportedly among the highest-paid referees in sport. But how much really is it?

How much are NBA referees making per year?

You’d be surprised at how much NBA refs make. Knowing how much they make a year, you would probably think of trying to apply for the job.

  • New referees, or the so-called “rookies”, usually start at $600 a game. Depending on how many games he or she officiates, the rookie referee could receive a total of $250,000 in salary for the whole year. Meanwhile, tenured officials get a huge bump in pay, wherein they get $3,000 to $7,000 a game and can go up to $550,000 per year or more. According to Statista, only 12% of American households earn more than $200,000 annually.

NBA referee salary Richard Jefferson

  • Not only that, but referees are also paid more during the playoffs. They usually get $9,000 in the first round and about $29,000 during the semifinals, conference finals, and NBA finals. However, newcomers aren’t qualified yet to officiate playoff games. In the 2024 playoffs, the NBA announced that 28 out of the 36 referees have ten years or more experience. On average, the officiating roster has 16.2 years of NBA experience.
  • That’s not even all of it. Game officials have a group called the National Basketball Referees Association (NBRA). In 2022, they secured a 7-year Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the NBA, although details are unknown. But what we know so far is that referees also get wondrous benefits, from health insurance, healthcare, free game tickets, and travel allowances to retirement plans and more.
  • On the other hand, G-League referees are paid significantly lower than NBA officials. Roughly, their salary ranges from $25,000 to $50,000 annually.

But why are referees getting paid this much?

Being a referee is actually very difficult. You’re going to be tasked with officiating some of the closest matchups, and every call is crucial. Moreover, there’s a stigma surrounding officials with regard to fixing games and betting. Remember Tim Donaghy? Donaghy conspired to fix games, resulting in the biggest gambling scandal in the NBA. Well, the league does not want anymore, hence why they’re paying the referees a nice amount to keep them from betting and fixing games. After all, it’s a rule. A referee shouldn’t bet on games.

The highest-paid referees in 2024

Since most of the senior referees are paid the same, we’re going to expect that these are still the highest-paid referees in 2024. Roughly, these guys make more than $550,000 a year.

  • Tony Brothers
  • Scott Foster
  • Sean Corbin
  • James Capers
  • Ken Mauer
  • Rodney Mott
  • Marc Davis
  • Pat Fraher
  • Tom Washington

How can I become an NBA referee?

Becoming an NBA referee is a long and winding road. It looks like a simple job, but it’s actually very complicated. To qualify as a referee in the NBA, here are the requirements:

  • Obviously, a referee must know the ins and outs of NBA basketball. Not just the basics, but the whole rulebook, from cover to cover. Aside from that, understanding the FIBA guidelines is also a huge plus.
  • The aspirant must have a high school diploma.
  • An aspiring NBA referee must complete the necessary training. He/she must first volunteer as a youth basketball referee until he/she is qualified to officiate high school basketball games.
  • Join associations like the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials (IAABO) or other local chapters. Just like any graduate school, you must pass officiating exams in order to qualify for the next steps.
  • After getting some experience officiating high school games and completing exams, you can now move up and apply to be a referee in the NCAA.
  • Just like basketball players, you must also attend some tryouts and camps. From the NCAA, an aspiring referee in the NBA must first try out for a position in the G-League.
  • There, you can gain some more experience and wait for a recommendation to officially become an NBA referee.

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