Salaries Of MLS Referees

Major League Soccer (MLS) is the top professional soccer league in the United States and Canada. It is the home to some of the best players in the world and is watched by millions of fans. As with any professional sports league, the MLS requires highly skilled and trained officials to ensure the games are played fairly and according to the rules. These officials are known as referees. Let us see about the salaries of Major League Soccer (MLS) Referees.

Salaries of MLS Referees

Salaries of MLS Referees

As with any professional job, the salary for MLS referees varies depending on experience and performance. According to reports, the average salary for an MLS referee is around $75,000 to $85,000 per year. However, this can be higher or lower based on a number of factors, such as experience, location, and performance.

The top tier of MLS referees, known as FIFA referees, are the most experienced and highly regarded officials in the league. These referees are responsible for the highest-profile games and can earn salaries in the $100,000 to $150,000 range.

Levels of MLS pay scale for referees

The pay scale for Major League Soccer (MLS) referees can vary depending on their level of experience and the specific role they play on the field. Here is a rough estimate of the pay scale for MLS referees:

Center Referees:

Center referees are responsible for managing the overall flow of the game and making key decisions, such as awarding fouls and penalties. They are typically paid a base salary in the range of $75,000 to $150,000 per year.

Assistant Referees:

Assistant referees, also known as linesmen, are typically paid a base salary in the range of $50,000 to $100,000 per year, with the potential for bonuses based on their performance.

Fourth Officials:

Fourth officials are responsible for keeping track of substitutions, injury time, and other administrative duties during the game. They are typically paid a lower salary than center referees and assistant referees, with a base salary in the range of $30,000 to $60,000 per year.

We can also analyze the structure of wage allotted through 4 Levels of experience which determine the salary that a referee gets, the first level is Level 1 or Entry level referees who have less than 20 matches’ experience and earn $565 per game (Center referees). Second level is Level 2 who have slightly more experience between 21 and 40 games and can $670 per game. The third level is Level 3 in which referee’s have to officiate 41 to 75 matches and then earn $775 per game. The top end is level 4 in which referees have to gain an experience of 76 games before the start of a new MLA’s campaign they can earn $875 and can go till $1500.

Starting Career as a MLS referee

A career as a Major League Soccer (MLS) referee can be rewarding for those with a passion for the sport and a strong work ethic. Here are the steps to becoming an MLS referee:

Get certified:

To become an MLS referee, you must first be certified by the United States Soccer Federation (USSF). This involves passing written and physical tests, as well as completing on-field training sessions.

Progress to higher levels:

As you gain experience, you can move up to higher levels of competition, such as college or semi-professional leagues. This will help you to continue developing your skills and gain recognition from MLS officials.

Attend MLS evaluations:

MLS officials hold regular evaluations to identify top referees and assess their potential for advancement to the professional level. Those who perform well in these evaluations may be invited to join the MLS Referee Program.

Stay in shape:

MLS referees are required to maintain a high level of physical fitness, as their job involves running up and down the field for 90 minutes. Regular exercise and training is crucial for success in this role.

Attend MLS training camps:

MLS referees are required to attend regular training camps and clinics to keep their skills sharp and up-to-date with the latest rules and regulations.

Some well-known referees in Major League Soccer (MLS):

Mark Geiger, Jair Marrufo, Alan Kelly, Ismail Elfath, Armando Villarreal, Ted Unkel, Robert Sibiga, Nima Saghafi, Chris Penso, David Gantar. These referees have extensive experience officiating professional soccer matches and are highly respected in the MLS community.

Changing state of salaries of MLS referees

The salaries of MLS referees have evolved over time,  referee salaries in professional soccer leagues, including MLS, are typically negotiated through the Professional Referee Organization (PRO), which manages and assigns referees for North American professional leagues.

However, it is widely reported that MLS referees earn much less than their counterparts in the top European leagues and that their salaries have increased in recent years as the league has

grown. Additionally, MLS referees may earn bonuses for working high-profile games or playoff matches, and some also receive benefits such as healthcare and retirement plans.

It is also worth noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the sports industry, including MLS, and may have affected the salaries of referees in the league. However, the specific details of any changes are not publicly available.

Analysing Impact of COVID – 19 on earnings of MLS referees 

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the sports industry, including Major League Soccer (MLS), and it is likely that the salaries of MLS referees have been affected as well. To comply with health and safety guidelines, MLS teams have had to play in empty or partially empty stadiums, which has significantly reduced revenue from ticket sales and other fan-related activities.

It is known that the pandemic has led to significant financial challenges for many professional sports leagues, including MLS, as revenue from ticket sales, sponsorships, and other sources has declined. This may have led to a reduction in the overall budgets for referees, although the specific details are not known.

In any case, it is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the sports industry, including MLS, and it is likely that the salaries of referees in the league have been affected in some way.


In conclusion, the salary for MLS referees can vary widely depending on experience and performance. Starting salaries for new referees can be in the $50,000 to $60,000 range, while top-tier referees can earn salaries in excess of $100,000. Regardless of their salary, MLS referees play an important role in ensuring that games are played fairly and according to the rules, and they are an essential part of the success of the league.

Salaries Of MLS Referees

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