The NFL is an entity that has the entire world watching. From the millions of fans on television to the thousands in the stands, everyone wants to get as close to the action as possible. Besides the players who actually carry the pigskin up and down the gridiron, only seven men get near enough to the scene to actually feel the sweat dripping off the warriors. The life of an NFL line judge is one filled with rich rewards and long roads to the top.

One of the Crew:

An NFL line judge is simply one member of a 7-man crew that presides over an average NFL game. He works with the other officials in his crew, including the referee, umpire, head linesman, field judge, side judge and back judge.  The line judge’s primary responsibility in a game is working with the head linesman to monitor the line of scrimmage and determine whether or not any offsides or encroachment penalties occur as well as patrolling his side line to see if players go out of bounds.

A Healthy Paycheck:

The judge enjoys the spoils of being one of the most well-paid officials in professional sports. According to, for the 2013-2014 NFL season, the average line judge makes a salary of $173,000, with fluctuations from that figure  based on experience, expertise and seniority. A rookie referee begins with a base salary of $73,000, compared to a veteran signal-caller who can cash in an annual paycheck of $200,000. While the salaries of NFL officials don’t vary according to the particular position they assume on the field, their individual years of experience creates some disparity in their pay.

A Typical Work Week:

The NFL schedule revolves around showtime on Sunday, and so does the life of an NFL line judge. After a Sunday afternoon game, the officiating crew will head back to the hotel and watch a tape of the game, especially to go over any penalities or questionable calls that occurred.  On Monday the referees fly home to their normal jobs; NFL officials are considered part-time so many of them carry on normal full-time jobs as lawyers or CEOs of companies.  On Tuesday or Wednesday the line judge, as well as the rest of the officials, receives a report card of their performance at the previous game as well as video footage of the upcoming game’s opponents in order to prepare for the match-up.  In addition, each week the line judge gets quizzed on a written test about the rules of the game.  By Saturday morning, the crew flies to the next game site and prepares with plenty of meetings for the next game.  On Sunday the whole cycle starts over.

Getting to the Show:

As might be expected, becoming an NFL line judge involves lots and lots of football. According to the league guidelines for officials, a prospective NFL line judge needs to have at least ten years of football officiating experience, with at least 5 of those years occuring at a high college or some sort of professional level.  In addition, a hopeful line judge needs to belong to an accredited official’s organization and be in top physical condition.  Besides those stated guidelines, someone who dreams of becoming an NFL line judge ought to have a healthy passion for the game, a desire to travel, a commitment to constant improvement and a flexible job that allows for referee experience and training.

With the popularity of the NFL constantly rising, the life of an NFL line judge is sure to continue to improve.

About the author:
Sarah writes about sports for and loves watching the NFL.