How Much Do Pickleball Referees Make?

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Key Takeaways:

  • Pickleball referees typically earn $10-50 per hour depending on experience and certification level.
  • Pay rates increase for higher-level regional and national tournaments.
  • Certified referees may get allowances and meals covered during tournaments.
  • Factors like location, event size, and organizing body impact referee pay.
  • Becoming a certified referee can boost earning potential and opportunities.


Pickleball’s rapid growth in popularity over the past decade has led to an increased need for qualified referees to officiate matches and tournaments. But how much do these important officiants actually make? As a relatively new professional role in a booming sport, there is still variability in pickleball referee pay rates.

This article will provide a comprehensive evaluation of the earnings potential for pickleball referees. It analyzes the key factors impacting pay, including certification level, tournament type and location, and organizing bodies. Relevant statistics and insights from industry experts are included to shed light on current pay ranges and trends. The goal is to give readers an accurate understanding of how much money pickleball referees can expect to make.

With pickleball’s participation expanding so quickly, qualified referees are in high demand. The ability to earn supplemental or even full-time income from officiating pickleball matches makes becoming a referee an appealing option for enthusiasts. This article outlines everything you need to know about pickleball referee pay to evaluate if this officiating role is right for you or someone you know.

Typical Hourly Pay Rates for Pickleball Referees

What is the hourly pay for pickleball referees?

On average, pickleball referees can earn anywhere from $10 to $50 per hour depending on factors like certification level, tournament type, and location. Local club games and early round matches at regional tournaments typically sit at the lower end of that range, while higher stakes national tournaments or professional matches result in increased pay rates.

How much do pickleball referees make per match?

For local club and community pickleball games, referees typically earn around $10 per match officiated. Matches generally last 30 minutes to 1 hour. Higher pay per match would be expected for qualifying and final matches at larger regional or national tournaments.

What is the average salary for pickleball referees?

Given the part-time and variable nature of officiating, an annual salary average is difficult to pinpoint. However, based on typical per match or hourly rates, pickleball referees can expect to earn supplemental income in the range of $20 to $25 per hour on average. This assumes a mix of local club matches and some regional tournament assignments.

Key Factors That Impact Pickleball Referee Pay

How does certification level impact referee pay?

Obtaining formal certification as a pickleball referee can significantly increase earning potential. Certified Pro and National referees certified by the USA Pickleball Association can earn $30 to $50+ per hour at the higher end matches. Non-certified or locally certified refs earn $10 to $20 per hour normally.

Do pickleball referees get paid more for bigger tournaments?

Yes, referee pay is higher for more prominent regional and national tournaments. Major tournaments like the USA Pickleball National Championships can pay experienced Pro or National certified referees $50 to $75 per hour. These events have larger prize purses and more prestige.

Does location affect pickleball referee pay rates?

Location does impact referee earnings potential. Densely populated metro areas with many pickleball players, clubs, and tournaments tend to have more demand and higher pay rates for referees. Coastal regions like California and Florida where pickleball is hugely popular see higher referee salaries currently.

How does the organizing body impact referee pay?

The size and type of the organizing body behind a pickleball tournament or event often correlates with the referee pay rate. Larger national bodies like the USA Pickleball Association and Association of Pickleball Professionals tend to have higher referee pay scales compared to local community center events.

Pay Ranges at Different Pickleball Tournament Levels

How much do pickleball referees make at local tournaments?

For local club tournaments, community center events, and recreational pickleball tournaments, referees typically make $10 to $20 per hour. These events tend to have lower stakes, smaller organizing bodies, and less formality.

What is referee pay like for regional tournaments?

At regional tournaments sanctioned by national bodies, the pay scale for certified referees increases to $20 to $40 per hour normally. Deep runs into bracket play on final days can net $50+ per hour at this mid-tier tournament level.

What do national tournament pickleball referees earn?

The highest referee earnings come from officiating at the most prestigious national tournaments in the sport. Major events like the USA Pickleball National Championships can pay qualified Pro or National certified refs $50 to $100+ per hour.

How much do professional league referees make?

Referees chosen to officiate matches in professional pickleball leagues like the APP Tour and PPA Tour can earn $75 to $150 per match. These pro league assignments are the highest paying referee opportunities currently available.

Additional Compensation and Benefits

Do pickleball referees get paid expenses and benefits?

At higher level national tournaments, referees often receive allowance stipends to cover travel and lodging expenses. They may also get free or discounted food and amenities on site. Building relationships with national organizing bodies can increase chances of getting these additional referee benefits.

Can pickleball referees earn money outside of matches?

Experienced referees may have opportunities to earn additional income through referee training and certification programs. Becoming a referee instructor or mentor can allow for paid training sessions and clinics outside of tournament assignments.

Is there income potential from pickleball referee gear sales?

Some elite referees design, produce, and sell branded gear like shirts, hats, and accessories to pickleball enthusiasts and other referees. Referee gear representing major tournaments can produce additional revenue.

Career Earnings Growth and Potential

How can pickleball referees increase their income over time?

Gaining more certifications, experience, and positive notoriety in the sport allows veteran referees to continually increase pay rates and landing the highest profile tournament assignments. Making key contacts and building a reputation is crucial.

What earnings growth is projected for pickleball referees?

With pickleball’s rapid growth, referee earnings are likely to increase across the board. There will be more tournaments and events needing qualified officials. Regional tournaments may start paying rates currently only seen at national events. Higher pay is needed to attract more referees.

What is the future outlook for professional pickleball referees?

The formation of a full-fledged professional pickleball league could be a game changer for referee career potential. A league with salaried positions and year-round play would enable top referees to turn pro officiating into a lucrative full-time job rather than a side gig.

Key Takeaways on Pickleball Referee Pay Rates

  • Avg pay $10-50/hr based on experience and certification
  • Bigger tournaments = better pay
  • Location matters (population, popularity of pickleball)
  • Organizing body correlates to pay rate
  • Getting certified boosts earning potential
  • Building a reputation leads to more income
  • Huge growth forecast suggests rising pay rates
  • Possible future pro league would be transformative


While pickleball refereeing may not currently offer full-time professional-level salaries, it remains a lucrative side income stream for qualified officials in the fast-growing sport. Hourly and per match earnings can range from $10 to well over $50 based on key factors outlined in this article. There is ample opportunity for experienced referees to supplement their income by several thousand dollars or more annually through local games and larger tournaments.

Passion for the sport, getting proper certifications, officiating high-profile events, and building a reputation are the keys to maximizing income as a pickleball referee. With pickleball participation booming across North America, the demand for qualified officials will continue rising in the years ahead – along with potential pay rates. Becoming a referee provides a way to turn personal enjoyment of pickleball into profitable officiating opportunities.

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