How To Become A NBA Referee

The first step towards becoming an NBA referee is obtaining a high school diploma or GED. This is the minimum educational requirement for this profession.

Becoming a National Basketball Association (NBA) referee is a dream for many sports enthusiasts. It's a role that requires a deep understanding of the game, excellent judgment, and the ability to make quick decisions under pressure. This blog post will guide you through the steps to becoming an NBA referee.

Educational Requirements

The first step towards becoming an NBA referee is obtaining a high school diploma or GED. This is the minimum educational requirement for this profession. However, having additional qualifications or experience in a related field can be beneficial.

Gain Experience

Experience is crucial in this field. Aspiring referees should start by officiating at youth basketball games. This provides a solid foundation in understanding the rules and dynamics of the game. Registering to work as a high school athletics coach or officiating through the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) can also provide valuable experience.

Attend NBA G League Tryouts

Once you've gained sufficient experience, the next step is to attend referee tryouts for the NBA G League. Here, you'll have the opportunity to demonstrate your skills and work ethic. Remember, NBA referees are graded every play, every game. Only the top referees work the playoffs and the Finals.

Understand the Role of an NBA Referee

An NBA referee is responsible for ensuring fair game results and sportsman-like conduct between teams. They interpret the rulebook, call fouls and violations, and oversee statistics, scorekeeping, the game clock, shot clock, replays, and boundary violations. The best referees are those who understand their roles and responsibilities thoroughly.

Know the Rules and Regulations

A comprehensive understanding of the NBA's rules and regulations is essential. NBA referees must inspect and approve all equipment before the start of the game, ensure players do not wear any type of jewelry or dangerous equipment, and check that game balls are properly inflated. They also have the responsibility of reporting any atypical or unique incidents to the Basketball and Referee Operations Departments.

Compensation and Benefits

The NBA pays its referees a salary that varies between $150,000 and $550,000 annually. The amount a referee earns can differ based on how many games they officiate and their level of experience. In addition to the salary, NBA referees are entitled to various benefits such as healthcare, retirement plans, and travel expenses.


Becoming an NBA referee is a challenging yet rewarding career path. It requires dedication, a deep understanding of the game, and the ability to make quick, fair decisions under pressure. With the right education, experience, and commitment, you can work your way up to officiating at some of the most exciting basketball games in the world.

Subscribe to NFL World

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.