How Much Do Pickleball Referees Make

Ever wondered how much referees in pickleball earn? Well, it’s a bit like winning a game – it depends on the level of competition they’re handling.

For smaller tournaments that aren’t professional, referees might volunteer their time or get a small payment, usually between $10 and $20 for each match.

But for bigger tournaments, like national or international ones, referees can make more money. They might earn between $100 and $300 per day. And at really big events, some referees can even make over $500 per day!

If referees work for organizations like the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) or USA Pickleball, they might have a more stable schedule and higher pay. In fact, according to the PPA, referees can make up to $500 per day when they work at major events

Let’s take a detailed look at pickleball referee pay.

What Is Pickleball Referee Level?

There are different certification levels for pickleball referees, each with their own requirements and pay rate:

Level 1: Basic Referee 

A Level 1 or basic referee is certified to officiate club and local tournaments. To become a Level 1 referee, you must:

  • Complete the online Basic Referee Training course
  • Pass the Basic Referee exam with a score of 85% or higher
  • Get practical experience refereeing matches
  • Pay rate: $15-20 per hour

Level 1 referees can officiate matches up to 3.0 skill levels. They are responsible for calling lines, scoring, administering rules, and handling basic disputes.

Level 2: Intermediate Referee 

A Level 2 or intermediate referee is certified for regional tournaments and higher level play. Requirements include:

  • Maintain Level 1 certification
  • Complete Intermediate Referee Training
  • Get experience refereeing tournaments as a Level 1 referee
  • Pass the Intermediate Referee exam with 85% or higher
  • Pay rate: $20-30 per hour

Level 2 referees can officiate matches up to 4.0 skill levels. They take on additional duties like assigning line judges, assessing penalties, and resolving disputes.

Level 3: Advanced Referee 

A Level 3 or advanced referee meets the highest officiating standards. Requirements are:

Maintain Level 1 and Level 2 certifications

  • Complete Advanced Referee Training
  • Get experience refereeing major regional and national tournaments
  • Can referee pro and elite tournaments
  • Pay rate: $30-50 per hour

Level 3 referees can officiate matches up to 5.0 skill levels. They officiate professional tournaments like the US Open and handle administrative duties.

Level 4: Certified Referee 

A Level 4 or certified referee has reached the highest certification level. To qualify, referees must:

  • Maintain all lower level certifications
  • Have 5+ years experience as a Level 3 referee
  • Get outstanding evaluations and pass rigorous assessments
  • Pay rate: $40-60 per hour

Less than 1% of referees attain Level 4 status. These referees officiate the highest profile professional matches and mentor lower level referees.

The more experienced and certified you become as a referee, the higher your officiating rates will be!

Pickleball Referee

Next, let’s look at whether pickleball uses line judges.

Are There Line Judges In Pickleball?

In professional pickleball tournaments, there are dedicated line judges in addition to the referee. Line judge duties include:

  • Calling balls “in” or “out” on assigned lines
  • Signaling to referee when a fault is committed
  • Assisting with player disputes about line calls

Line judges must have strong eyesight, quick reflexes, and remain neutral during matches. Becoming a certified pickleball line judge involves training, rules knowledge, and practical experience.

For recreational and club play, there usually aren’t dedicated line judges. Players rely on the honor system to call balls in or out on their end of the court. The referee will make line calls at their end.

What Are The Benefits of Being A Pickleball Referee?

Officiating pickleball matches can be extremely rewarding. Some key benefits include:

  • Earn extra income doing something you love
  • Get exercise and stay engaged with the sport
  • Advance your technical knowledge of pickleball rules and skills
  • Gain respect as an authority and leader in the pickleball community
  • Mentor new players and help the sport grow
  • Travel to exciting local and national tournaments
  • Improve focus, concentration, multi-tasking and quick decision making skills
  • Take pride in facilitating fair, fun competition for all skill levels
  • The more experience you gain as a referee, the more opportunities open up to officiate high-level tournaments and earn additional income.

How Much Do Local Pickleball Referees Get Paid? 

Local pickleball referee pay typically ranges from $15 to $25 per hour depending on your certification level and the tournament.

Here are the hourly pay rates:

  • Level 1 referee: $15 to $20/hr
  • Level 2 referee: $18 to $22/hr
  • Level 3 referee: $20 to $25/hr

These rates are for local club tournaments, recreational leagues, and regional competitions. Larger tournaments with professional players may pay slightly more.

Expect to referee 2-6 hours per local tournament depending on the size. Tournaments are often held on weekends. Active referees could officiate 10-25 local tournaments per year for extra income.

Some additional perks that boost pay:

  • Mileage reimbursement for travel
  • Free lunch and snacks during the tournament
  • Complementary tournament t-shirt or polo
  • Discounts on gear and equipment

So a typical Level 2 referee making $20/hr could expect to earn $1,000 – $2,500 per year officiating local and regional pickleball tournaments.

How Much Do Pro Pickleball Referees Get Paid? 

Once you reach the highest Level 4 certification, the pay increases substantially to referee professional tournaments.

Here are typical pay rates for pro pickleball referees:

  • Major tournaments like the US Open: $500 – $1000 per day
  • Other pro tournaments like APP Florida Master’s: $300 – $600 per day
  • Exhibition matches: $750+ for 1-2 days

The top pickleball referees can officiate 30-40 major professional tournaments each year. At rates of $500-1000 per day, annual earnings can be $15,000 to $40,000.

Additional benefits like travel costs covered, free hotels, per diem for meals, and branded apparel make the compensation package even more attractive.

Reaching the professional pickleball referee level takes years of dedication, training, and real-world experience. But the financial reward and chance to be part of pickleball history make it an exciting goal.

How To Become A Pickleball Referee?

If you want to start refereeing pickleball matches, here are some steps to become certified:

1. Learn the pickleball rules thoroughly

You’ll need to fully understand all the rules of pickleball. Read the official IFP rulebook and study both basic rules and more advanced tournament regulations.

2. Get hands-on practice

Before certification, get experience refereeing practice games and club play. This lets you work on making correct line calls, enforcing rules, and positioning.

3. Pass the referee exam

To become a certified pickleball referee, you need to pass an official exam Online Referee Test (90%) and Line Judge Test (90%). Tests cover rules, scoring, fouls, hinders and other facets of the game. 

4. Obtain referee certification

Register for a referee training course with the IPTPA, USAPA or other national organization. Getting certified ensures you meet all requirements.

5. Referee sanctioned tournaments

Once certified, you can start reffing local and regional tournaments. This tournament experience will count toward higher level certifications.

6. Seek advanced referee status

With more experience, apply for intermediate or advanced referee status. The highest level is the Certified Referee credential.

7. Consider specialized certifications

Some referees get extra certified as a referee trainer or line judge. Pursuing specialties can increase opportunities to earn.

Pickleball Referee Pay FAQs 

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about pickleball referee compensation and jobs:

How much do beginner pickleball refs make?

Entry-level Local Level 1 referees can expect to earn $15-20 per hour to officiate club games and local tournaments.

Do you get paid to referee pickleball?

Yes, pickleball referees get paid per tournament or match. Rates range from $15/hr for basic local play to $500+ per day for major pro tournaments.

How do I become a paid pickleball referee?

Start by getting certified as a Level 1 referee, gain practical experience, then work your way up to higher certifications to referee larger tournaments and earn more.

Is being a pickleball referee profitable?

It can be profitable as a side hobby or part-time job, especially at higher certification levels. Local referees can earn up to $2,500/year while pro refs make $15,000-$40,000.

Do pickleball referees pay for their own travel expenses?

Sometimes yes, but major tournaments often cover travel costs including mileage, flights, hotels, and per diem for meals and incidentals.

How much do tennis referees make compared to pickleball?

Tennis refs tend to earn slightly more, but pickleball referee pay is catching up as the sport rapidly grows. A pro tennis ref may make $50,000-$70,000 vs $15,000-$40,000 for top pickleball referees.

What’s the retirement plan for pickleball referees?

There is no formal retirement plan. Income earned can be saved in IRA’s. Some may transition to training or administrative roles.

Pickleball Referee Salary Summary 

  • Pickleball referee pay ranges from $15-$25/hr locally to $500-$1000+ daily for pro tournaments
  • Higher certification levels earn more pay and access better tournaments
  • Experienced Level 4 refs can make $15,000-$40,000 annually
  • Benefits like travel reimbursement, gear discounts, and meals boost total compensation
  • Becoming a pickleball referee provides exercise, community, and extra income

With pickleball’s rising popularity, there’s growing demand for qualified referees. Local and professional tournaments provide exciting opportunities to earn, learn, mentor others, and stay closely involved with this fast-paced sport.

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Image Credit: Atlantic Pickleball

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