How Much do Hockey Referees Make?
As officials first and foremost we love the game of hockey. But at the same time it is a profession, and just like any other profession we get paid to work. So as an official what can you expect to make?
Well first and foremost it depends on the level you are officiating. Often times, the higher the age and skill level, the more you get paid. However, at the same time, you need to consider that at certain levels you can do several games in a row, whereas as some higher levels you might just be doing one game on a given day.
Having noted that - we're going to do our best to share what you can expect to get working certain levels of hockey. Of course pay scales vary depending on what country and area you are officiating, so we'll try to cover as much as possible. This is especially important information for newcomers and those considering joining our ranks in stripes!
As mentioned, pay rates differ from state to state, but we've tried to put together a rough guide on what you will likely get when you are a referee in the United States.
For the youngest levels (Squirts/10U) you can usually expect to get paid about $30 for a 1-hour game. This will usually consist of two officials on a game. Generally you will get assigned a few of these back to back, a few times a week.
Moving up to Peewee (12U) you can generally expect to get paid between $30-$40 for an hour-long game. At this level you will start to see a bit of a range because of the different skill level of teams and leagues. You will often still see 2-man systems used in Peewee.
As you go to Bantam (15U) you will start to use a 3-man system more often, with both linesmen and referees. The range for these level games will fall between $35-$45 generally - with you making more as a referee than a linesman.
Most newcomers will start out working squirt and possibly Peewee in their first season. Of course sometimes officials move up levels faster depending on their unique situation, including their skill level, age, number of officials in area, among other factors.
Beyond these levels are several different levels like high school, junior, college, and of course the minor and professional ranks. These pay scales can range quite widely. For example, in junior hockey you can get paid between $60-$130 a game usually, depending on if you are a referee or linesman.
While at the NCAA level referees can make upwards of $400 per game, with linesman making about half of that.
Canadian officials can expect similar ranges of payment for the games they work, although in our research we found that at the lower levels especially, officials in Canada can make less than their American counterparts.
In Canada, for the lower levels like Novice and Atom, you can expect to be paid between $20-$30 per game. Again like in the US it depends on where you live.
Moving up to Pewee and Bantam, you can see rates increase to between $30-$45. This depends too on whether you are a referee or a linesman - as most games will be in a 3-man system at these levels (or even 4-man).
And similar to the United States, moving up the ranks like junior, university, and major junior in Canada - you can expect to see game fees of between $50 to $200 a game, depending on level, and whether you are a referee or a linesman.
Once you reach levels of officiating where you will be required to travel longer distances, you can also expect to be paid "mileage" fees to compensate you for your time on the road. This can range depending on the level you are working.
The highest echelon of officiating of course is the National Hockey League. So how much do these top officials make per season?
Well according to data collected from several seasons ago, estimated salaries for linesmen fall between $110k to $235k per season, while referees can expect to get paid between $165k to $360k.
The ranges are mostly due to seniority, and officials can expect their salaries to rise based on how many years of service they've put into the NHL.
One interesting thing to note is that among the four major North American sports, NHL officials are reportedly the best compensated.