How Much Do High School Football Referees Make?

NFL referees make a lot of money, especially from postseason games. What do high school football referees make?

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How much do high school referees make?

High school football referees make about $65 or $100 for varsity games and $40 to $70 for junior varsity games. They make a salary of about $23,000 per year, which isn’t bad for a part-time job. In some states and cities, you might make $40,000, $60,000, or even $80,000 per year.

I have been a high school football referee for many years. If you love football and want to make extra money on top of your day job, I recommend trying it. 

You can make decent money at it, especially in states where high school football is most popular.

Do Referees Get Paid Per Game?

Referees often get paid for the season plus per game. They get a flat fee for each season they play, plus payment for each match. Postseason games are worth more.

Higher Pay in Some States

A high school football referee makes more money in states with a higher cost of living. In New York, some high school referees make $1,000 a week officiating games. In Texas, referees make $100 per game, or more than $200 per game when they have to travel far. Pay is lower in Florida ($46 to $75 per game) and Tennessee ($65 to $75). 

Yearly pay is much higher in some states than in others. In Oklahoma, New York, Vermont, and Pennsylvania, high school referees make $42,000 or even $60,000 per year.

 In Greater Pittsburgh, they can earn as much as $82,000, and labor statistics show that there will be more demand for referees in the future. 

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How to Become a High School Referee

First, you need to meet the minimum requirements. You will need a high school diploma or at least a GED in most states to referee football at the high school level. 

You must also pass a written test and complete a training course. You have to know football rules backward to be a referee. You do not need a degree. 

Referees are not Full Time

Referees have to work irregular hours, including weekends and evenings. However, the total number of hours they work per year is pretty low. It can be decent money per hour in many places.

Becoming a high school football referee is a good way to boost your income. Teachers often become referees to make more money. You do have to fit the irregular working hours into your schedule. 

What do NFL Referees Make?

NFL referees make much more money than most people, but not nearly as much as professional football players do. An NFL official (not only referees) makes $205,000 per year (2021), up from only $150,000 per year a few years before. It is a high-paying profession.

Probably, the average salary for referees is higher than $205,000 per year because referees probably make more than most other officials. However, it might not be much higher. 

NFL referees are paid per season plus per game, with the per-game pay being at most $1500. Some NFL referees get paid more than others. Brad Allen and Craig Wrolstad both get paid around $250,000. Walt Anderson also made that much before he retired.

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Pay for Postseason Games

NFL referees get paid more for postseason games and quite a lot more for the super bowl. Postseason games pay at least $3,000. How much the super bowl pays is not known, but estimates put it at about $50,000.

The median NFL player earns $860,000 per year. The average salary is much higher ($2.7 million) because of how much the richest players get paid. Quarterbacks are by far the best-paid players.

What do Referees Do?

Referees closely watch the game and penalize anyone who won’t play fair. They have to make accurate calls to keep their jobs. Even if they do a great job, they’ll still antagonize fans who disagree with their judgments.

Referees have to be fair, they can’t favor one team. Even if a referee would rather one team wins, they still have to enforce the rules equally.

Football Games Need Several Officials

A single referee isn’t nearly enough for football. Instead, you need seven officials to enforce the rules properly for an NFL or college game. The seven officials are:

  • The referee
  • The umpire
  • The side judge
  • The down judge
  • The line judge
  • The back judge
  • The field judge

With several different officials watching different players and different parts of the field, you can enforce the rules. 

For high school football, they don’t usually have seven officials. There are usually only five at high schools and only three for middle school games. 

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Umpires vs Referees

Umpires are not the same as referees. They have different responsibilities and usually get paid a lower salary than referees do. Sometimes, people refer to all seven officials as “referees,” but there is only one actual referee.

The umpire isn’t there to catch rulebreakers as much as the referee is. Instead, they review player equipment, watch the line of scrimmage, and mark off yardage for penalties. 

Will They Need More Referees in the Future?

Yes, there will be increased demand for referees, umpires, and other sports officials according to labor statistics.

The demand might increase by as much as 32% from 2021 to 2031. Many sports officials will also retire and be replaced during that time. 

Key Takeaways

  • High school football referees get paid about $23,000 per year.
  • Many people, such as teachers, become football referees to boost their income. 
  • Referees both get paid for the season and paid for each game.
  • NFL referees make a lot more money, sometimes up to $250K per year.
  • There will be lots of demand for new referees in the rest of the 2010s.

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