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The Average Salary of a Super Bowl Referee

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Super Bowl referee Norm Schachter once said, "You have to be perfect your first game, and then get better in every game the following weeks." Calling the plays at the Super Bowl, a game watched by over 100 million people, is a task that is high stress and requires the utmost attention to detail. The salary of a ref is commensurate with that level of pressure.


NFL referees make more the longer they've been at the job, but the average looks set to reach $205,000 annually in 2019.

Job Description

What does a referee do, exactly? An American football referee is responsible for enforcing the established laws of the game during the course of a game. They act as authorities on all facets of the play and can start and stop it as needed. Referees may also impose disciplinary action. The NFL considers them an official yet not all officials are referees. In this sport, a team of seven people comprises a squad that monitors the game as it plays and makes sure the rules are strictly followed. Referees are but one aspect of this team. They are responsible for the flow of the game from a bureaucratic standpoint, so to speak.

Career Requirements

The NFL referee salary for the Super Bowl is based on a meritocracy. A meritocracy is a system whereby those of a specialized and influential group, grouped by a set of similar skill sets, are assessed on the basis of their proven abilities. How adept an NFL referee is and how their numbers look decides how much they will get paid. A Super Bowl referee can make twice the amount they would calling a regular season or even playoff game. Dean Blandino in 2013 implemented a three-tiered system for this meritocracy. Instead of relying on the same numerical system the NFL employed for decades they group referees based on several factors based on performance. This decides who will be able to referee the Super Bowl.

Average Salary by Year

In 2012, there was a lockout that forced the NFL to reach an agreement with the NFL Referees Association. It lasted four months, from June to September of that year. What was created was an eight-year agreement spanning from that year to 2019 that includes several stipulations. Referees hired by the fall of 2012 retained their existing benefit and pension plans. Starting in 2017, new referees would have the more modern 401(k) plans. Pay rose on average from $149,000 in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013 and is set to reach up to $205,000 by the end of the agreement in 2019. How much do NFL referees make is, just like with most any job, dependent on how long they have been at the job.

Job Growth Trend

NFL salary for a Super Bowl is well-earned. Staying cool under the pressure from literally thousands of people screaming, the bright lights and hundreds of cameras, knowing their every move is filmed and scrutinized as it happens takes a cool head gained from hundreds of hours of experience. As the NFL makes more money and steadily makes gains in what it can draw, look for the salary of Super Bowl referees to do nothing but increase as well by several percentage points after the current deal is up in 2019.