How Much Is NHL Referee Salary?

What are the highest paying jobs in sports? One of them is NHL referees, who make an average salary of $75K per year. They have to deal with abuse and high stress on a daily basis but it must be worth all that trouble for this profession because they get paid well enough.

The wages are decent, but not on the same level as players. NHL referee salary makes between $165K and 360 thousand per year while linesmen earn 110k-235$. It’s much higher than before 1993 when they went on strike for better pay though.

NHL Referee Salary

With the average NHL salary between $165,000 and $400,000 per year depending on experience – this works out to about $1,500 to $3,000 per game.

Here is a screenshot of a job posting looking for an NHL referee which includes the pay rate.

nhl referee salary

NHL Linesmen Salary

The linesmen are the protectors of ice hockey. They make calls related to offside and icing, which can change a game in an instant. They also have one other major responsibility – to break up fights between players. The pay for linesmen is slightly lower but sits at an average of $110,000 to $235,000.

nhl referee salary

High Pressure

The life of an NHL referee is one where the decisions you make can affect thousands in attendance, and your performance will determine how much money you earn. Before going on strike in 1993 with just $50k for new hires at first wage package after 10 years working as a veteran official/ Linesmen make 80K. Accounting for inflation, the pay is significantly higher now – but the job is perhaps more demanding.

nhl referee salary

How to Become an NHL Referee?

To become an NHL Ref, you have to be willing and determined. You need more than just love for the game- it takes dedication. In order to become an official in the NHL, you have to put your body on the line and commit years of time. It’s not easy at all. Pro-level referees are put through rigorous training camps for physical fitness so they can keep up with the play. However at its heart being a referee is about knowing the rule book off by heart, and being able to make quick but crucially fair decisions in the heat of the moment.


nhl referee salary

Referee Salary vs Players

AT the time of writing the minimum salary for a player in the NHL was $690k while the highest-paid player is $15.9 million.

The highest-paid player in the 2017-18 seasons was Patrick Kane with an impressive $13,800,000 earned from his 8-year contract and playing for Chicago Blackhawks. He is currently one of their top players on a staggering amount that will be worth almost 90 million dollars when it expires.

Referee Pay in Amateur Leagues



Expense Allowances Expense Allowances
Division 3-Person System 2-Person System
Novice Not applicable $14.00/$14.00
Atom $20.00/$14.00/$14.00 $20.00/$20.00
PeeWee $27.00/$16.00/$16.00 $27.00/$27.00
Bantam $35.00/$25.00/$25.00 $35.00/$35.00
Midget $41.00/$28.00/$28.00 $41.00/$41.00
Female Juvenile $41.00/$28.00/$28.00 $41.00/$41.00
Juvenile $48.00/$32.00/$32.00 $48.00/$48.00

Southern California AHA, minor hockey in the Los Angeles CA area. (All amounts US$.)





ADM $25 an hour per referee
Mite $63.00 $25.00 $19.00
Squirt* $87.00 $35.00 $26.00
PeeWee $96.00 $38.00 $29.00
Bantam $107.00 $45.00 $31.00
Midget $127.00 $51.00 $38.00
PeeWee AA $107.00 $45.00 $31.00
Bantam AA $127.00 $51.00 $38.00
Midget AA $136.00 $56.00 $40.00
PeeWee AAA $124.00 $50.00 $37.00
Bantam AAA $133.00 $55.00 $39.00
Midget AAA $215.00 $85.00 $65.00

Final thoughts

The difference in pay between professional referees and amateur ones can be significant. Professional NHL Referees make around $165,000 or 360K per year while most amateurs only get paid between $0 – 120 a game which might not seem like much at first glance but when you consider how long these people spend working their way up through different levels of play before getting onto this stage where there are even greater rewards available for success then it starts making sense why some would choose.

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