As of 2013, National Football League referees make $173,000 annually. Many refs only work for the NFL part-time, holding down other jobs and careers during the off-season.
The NFL is one of the most popular sporting leagues with millions of fans attending games and tuning in to television broadcasts. With players making millions of dollars a year, it would make sense that those who make the calls on the field would also be well-compensated. However, according to some officials, this was not the case and that led to the salary stalemate between the NFL Referees Association and the NFL.
The referee lockout in 2012 eventually led to a new contract between the referees and the NFL. In 2011, referees earned $149,000. Under the new contract, referees' income is set to increase gradually to $205,000 in 2019. The 2012 agreement also allowed referees to keep their retirement packages for the next five years, with those plans phased out and replaced with 401k plans.
The new contract also allows for some referees to be employed year-round and creates a training program for new referees. Those who enter the developmental program are to be trained by other referees and are not permitted to officiate games until they complete the program.