NBA Referee Salary: How Much Do They Earn?

NBA Referee Salary: How Much Do They Earn?

Have you ever wondered how much NBA referees earn and what their salary per match is? NBA or National Basketball  Association referees are drawing higher salaries that will blow your mind. Undoubtedly, the NBA is known to be the most popular sports league globally. Being a referee of such a recognised association comes with a lot of responsibility and accountability to showcase fair games that comply with the basket rules. 

Stay with us in the blog to get details and discover NBA referee salary and who paid the highest among them. 

What Does an NBA Referee Do Exactly?

Before explaining NBA referee salary, let’s find out who they are and their core responsibilities. NBA referees are the most important part of basketball associations, and one requires good expertise to be one. 

NBA referees are mainly responsible for monitoring any fouls, violations, inbound passing violations, double dribbling,  or jump balls. It requires agility and in-depth knowledge of core basketball rules to outline the mistakes. Their accountability stake is too high, so the NBA referee’s salary is also comparatively kept higher. 

Core Responsibilities of NBA Referee:

  • Thoroughly check sports equipment 
  • Inquiry ball pressure 
  • Uniform check 
  • Team roster size
  • Ball toss and check for its possession
  • Passing ball to free throw shooter 
  • Fouls & Violation Calling 
  • Signalling Dead balls 
  • Sports Order Management 

Overview of NBA Referee Salary & Earnings

If you compare NBA referee to other professional sports officials, NBA referees are among the highest-paid ones. NBA referee salary might fall between $250,000 and $550,000 based on their experience and years of expertise. They get the earnings for the whole season based on the number of games they officiate. Further, NBA referees also get  lots of perks and benefits that add to their income, such as travel expense reimbursements, healthcare benefits, and retirement plans. 

The starting salary of a rookie or NBA referee salary can range from $250,000, and based on their gained experience over 3 to 5 years, it can further expand to the increased amount of  $550,000. 

Here are the levels of income or NBA referee salary:

  • When you are a beginner (termed a rookie), the salary starts at $600 per game, calculated as $250,000 per annum.
  • After spending three to five years in the league, an NBA referee can make $3000 per game and scale up the mark to above $4,00,000 per annum. 

Furthermore, during the postseason, NBA referees can make additional earnings that might range between $800 to $5,000 per game. However, this income amount depends on the ranking. 

Highest-Paid NBA Referee: How Much Salary Earning? 

In 2023, the highest-paid NBA referee was James Capers, earning around $9,000 in fees per playoff game. So, that makes this famous NBA referee salary $550,000 annually. James Capers has an interesting sports career in association with the National Basketball Association as an NBA referee for over 1500 games in 28 seasons. 

He started his referee journey with high school Basketball refereeing. Before joining the NBA (National Basketball Association), he worked as a salesman at Xerox, and his father, James Capers Sr., has also been an NBA official. He has monitored NBA games at locations in Beijing, Johannesburg, London, Paris and Tokyo. Further, Capers has officiated the 2018 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles along with the NBA All-Star Game in Dallas held in 2010.

List of Top 10 NBA Referee Salary 

Here is the list of top 10 NBA referee with their highest drawn salary: 

Official Name Regular Season Game Fee Playoff Game Fee Semifinals & Finals Game Fee Annual Earning
James Capers $7000 $9,000 $29,000 $550,000
Sean Corbin $7000 $9,000 $29,000 $550,000
Tony Brothers $7000 $9,000 $29,000 $550,000
Rodney Mott $7000 $9,000 $29,000 $550,000
Scott Foster $7000 $9,000 $29,000 $550,000
Ken Mauer $7000 $9,000 $29,000 $550,000
Pat Fraher $7000 $9,000 $29,000 $550,000
Tom Washington $7000 $9,000 $29,000 $550,000
Marc Davis $7000 $9,000 $29,000 $550,000
Eric Lewis $7000 $9,000 $29,000 $550,000

How to Become an NBA Referee? 

In order to become a professional NBA referee. 

  • One must earn a high school diploma.
  • Previously worked as a referee for youth basketball. 
  • They should register to work as a high school athletics coach. 
  • Get registration with the National College Athletic Association (NCAA).
  • Highlight skills and work ethics. 
  • Build networks and ask for recommendations.

Final Verdict on NBA Referee!

The NBA (National Basketball Association) referee has a major role in ensuring Basketball league rhythm and fairness. As you have already got the details on NBA referee salary, you may expect an increase in numbers in the coming years. Definitely, the top 10 NBA players are earning more than referees. However, it still ranks top on the list of NBA officials. 

Follow SportsnScoop for engaging content like this! 


Yes, as an NBA referee, you officiate as a full-time official to be available for every match. 

NBA referees are getting retirement plans, health benefits, and free travelling to reach international sports locations. 

In a Basketball match, only one NBA referee is required, along with two umpires, to monitor the match.

The NBA Scouting group evaluates referee applications to select the most suitable NBA referee. 

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