In the United States, the MLS is the premier soccer league, meaning referees in the MLS get paid the most in the country. MLS referees’ pay varies based on experience and the number of matches they oversee. So, how much does an MLS referee make? Keep reading to find out.
The MLS Sliding Pay Scale
In the MLS, referees are paid based on a sliding pay scale that rewards experience. There are four tiers of pay a referee can receive, which are based on the number of professional games the referee has overseen throughout their career.
Additionally, if you are a registered FIFA referee, you begin your time in the MLS making the highest pay grade. If you are new to the MLS, you will make the base pay level. Due to this pay model, referees with more experience and matches under their belts are rewarded.
Level 1 Referees
The base pay tier for referees in the MLS is level 1. Referees that have only officiated 20 MLS games or less are paid at this grade, which is currently $565.00 per game. However, with the more MLS games that a referee officiates, they can work up the pay scale, eventually earning more.
Level 2 Referees
The second level of pay for MLS referees is level 2. MLS referees fall into this category if they have officiated more than 20 games but fewer than 41 games. These referees are paid $670.00 for each match.
Level 3 Referees
The third level of MLS referee is level 3. Referees are at this level if they have officiated between 41 and 75 MLS matches. These referees are considered fairly experienced and earn $775.00 per match.
Level 4 Referees
The highest level of MLS referees is level 4. Level 4 referees must have officiated 76 or more MLS matches. At this rate, level 4 referees earn $875.00 each game. Additionally, referees who are official FIFA referees have an automatic base pay at level 4.
While level 4 referees do make more than level 1 and 2 referees, they usually are not paid as much as officials in European league matches. FIFA-certified referees who work for the MLS can make side incomes officiating international matches within FIFA tournaments and friendlies.
These matches pay far more than standard MLS league games. For example, if you are a level 4 referee who officiates an MLS All-Star Game or a Copa de Libertadores match, you will make around $1,500.00 per game.