NBA referees officiate in the top basketball league in the country. This is a high-level job and officials are well-paid for their expertise. The average wage for sports officials in the United States was a modest $33,020 per year as of 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But NBA referees are paid well above this overall average.
Average NBA Pay
According to a 2014 article published by Yahoo!, the average NBA referee's salary falls into the range of $150,000 to $550,000 per year. Entry-level officials are paid $150,000 per year and officials earn more as they gain experience. This salary puts NBA referees well within the top 10 percent of sports officials who earn $53,170 or more per year. Yahoo! states that average salaries have increased significantly over the years, noting that in 1983 they earned between $18,146 and $78,259 per year. NBA referees are paid more based on experience.
The Big Time
NBA referees officiate at the highest level of basketball. To make it to the NBA, referees first need to hone their skills at the lower level. Typically, referees will begin officiating high school and eventually college hoops. If they perform well they may be invited to NBA camps, the WNBA and the NBA D-League as training for an NBA career.