When discussing different jobs, potential earnings are always one of the most discussed subjects as money can impact our lives in remarkable ways. In hockey, it’s clear that the referees won’t be paid as much as the players, yet being a referee could still be a fascinating job. So, how much do ice hockey referees get paid?
Hockey referees in the NHL earn $200,000-$430,00 annually. In American Hockey League, referees earn $75,000 to $100,000 annually, while top European referees earn between $30,000 and $40,000. KHL referees earn less, from $5000 to $26,500, and amateur referees earn only $20-$400 per game.
As you can see, answering the question of how much hockey refs make isn’t as simple as it sounds because the league, level of play, time on ice, and experience will affect the earnings drastically.
To give you the best possible answer to the question, I invite you to read further to examine each league individually to see how much referees can earn in ice hockey.
Related: What Do Hockey Referees Wear?
- Hockey Referee Salaries By League
- How Much Do Amateur Hockey Referees Earn?
Hockey Referee Salaries By League
Below you can find the potential hockey referee salaries from six leagues. It’s fascinating how much the earnings can fluctuate depending on many variables. Let’s start with the highest level of play, the National Hockey League.
National Hockey League (NHL) Referee Salary
It probably won’t come as a surprise that the NHL referees earn the most out of all hockey leagues.
Depending on the referee’s skill set, experience, and games, NHL referees can earn anywhere from $200,000 to $430,000 annually. Note that the amount is just for referees and the earnings for linemen are less, yet it’s still quite impressive.
Generally, NHL linesmen earn from $137,00 to $200,000 depending on years of experience. The amount will slightly increase each year.
In the postseason, there is no pre-set salary if they participate in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, yet there’s a sizable bonus to be paid for the services. Referees earn $27,000 and linesmen $17,250 per round in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The bonus is paid regardless of how many games the referees and linesmen will have to play, but it can’t be more than seven, and usually, it isn’t more than five.
Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) Referee Salary
KHL referees earn approximately 25,000 Russian rubles per game. Depending on the referee’s experience, they can get anywhere from 10 to 56 games per season, drastically altering the potential earnings.
New KHL referees usually get 10 to 15 games per season, whereas the more experienced and seasoned referees get 55 to 56 games per season.
By doing the math, the earnings range from a season goes from 250,000 to 1,4million Russian rubles, around $5000-$26,500.
When we compare the KHL referee earnings to the average Russian annual income of1,24 million Rubles, the best KHL referees will exceed it, yet most referees don’t.
American Hockey League (AHL) Referee Salary
AHL, or the American Hockey League, is below the NHL in terms of skill and earnings, yet it’s still on a very high level, and the earnings are great too.
In general, AHL referees earn $75,000 to $100,000 annually, whereas AHL linesmen earn $50,000 to $60,000.
Note that at all times, nine part-time referees work in both NHL and AHL. These referees mainly work in the AHL, so the referees are extremely skilled as in the NHL.
Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Referee Salary
Referees in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) earn $60,000 annually from 9 months of work, including training and officiating the games. Other benefits include free travel, food, accommodations, and more.
When examining the hockey referee earnings in North America, they are significantly higher than in Russia (KHL) or Europe (SHL & Liiga). Let’s take a look at European hockey referee earnings next.
Swedish Hockey League (SHL) Referee Salary
In the Swedish Hockey League, the referees earn an average of 32,600 Swedish kronor per month. When doing some basic math, this turns to 391200 kronor per year, slightly over $38,500.
When comparing the $38,500 to the average salary of a Swedish person, which is 552000 kronor or $54500, the referees underperform the average.
Finnish Hockey League (SM-Liiga) Referee Salary
The SM-Liiga or the Finnish Hockey League referees earn around €30,000 annually. Euro is slightly higher than a dollar, so the earnings in dollars turn to $32,000. In addition, benefits such as hotel rooms, free meals, travel, and more are included.
Note that the €30,000 earnings are only for the best Liiga referees, so referees get less time on the ice, and linesmen earn less.
Anyways, the €30,000 annually is quite close to the Finnish average annual income, €29,500, so the top Liiga referees are of average income.
Below you can find a convenient table about the hockey referee salary ranges per league.
|Hockey League||Referee Salary Range|
|National Hockey League (NHL)||$200,000-$430,000|
|Kontinental Hockey League (KHL)||$5000-$26,500|
|American Hockey League (AHL)||$75,000-$100,000|
|Canadian Hockey League (CHL)||$60,000|
|Swedish Hockey League (SHL)||$38,500|
|Finnish Hockey League (SM-Liiga)||$32,000|
How Much Do Amateur Hockey Referees Earn?
When moving down from the professional hockey leagues and their salaries, the level of play and referee experience needed will drop, and with that, the earings for both players and referees. That raises the question of how much amateur hockey referees get paid.
Amateur hockey referees officiating amateur, youth, or recreational games earn anywhere between $20 to $400 per game. Moving up in age categories such as below 7 years old to over 20-year-olds, junior to university level ranks, or living in different areas will significantly affect earnings.
Each country categorizes ages slightly differently. For example, in the United States, the hockey levels are called mite, meaning age 8 & under, peewee 11-12 years old, and juniors, which are from 16 to 20 years old. Naturally, the older the players, the faster the game pace and popularity are, which enables higher salaries for the referees.
In contrast, Canada categorizes ages with the letter “U,” meaning “under.” So, U7 is under 7 years old, U11 is under 11, and so on. After U categorization, Junior league is under 21 years old, and Seniors don’t have an age limit. Similarly to the United States, the older the players, the more the referees will earn.
In addition, the area where the referee is officiating affects how much he will be paid. For an example, look at the data table below and see the average hockey referee salary in the United States by location.
|Location||Avg. Hockey Referee Salary|
In conclusion, being a hockey referee can be extremely profitable if you get to a high level of play. And even if you don’t, there are great work benefits, interesting working hours, and if you love being a referee, that’s really all you need!