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How to Become a Basketball Referee?

Last Updated May 13, 2024 Last Updated October 12, 2023 by Edward Pullen

If you’re passionate about basketball and dream of being a part of the action on the court without actually playing the game, becoming a basketball referee might be the perfect role. Whether you aspire to officiate NBA games or just want to referee at the community level, this guide will walk you through the steps to kickstart your career in basketball officiating.

How Do You Become an NBA Basketball Referee?

How to Become a Basketball Referee?

Becoming an NBA basketball referee is a prestigious achievement that requires dedication and a deep understanding of the game. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can pursue this rewarding career:

1. Educational Requirements

To start your journey as a basketball referee, you need a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) certificate. This educational foundation is the first step in the process, ensuring you have the basic qualifications to pursue your passion for officiating.

2. Master the Game and Rules

Becoming an expert in basketball and understanding the NBA’s rules and regulations is crucial. Watch games regularly, study the rulebook meticulously, and pay attention to how referees make decisions during matches. Knowledge of the game’s nuances is essential for success.

3. Gain Experience

Like any other profession, experience is key. Begin your career by officiating at the grassroots level, such as local youth or amateur basketball leagues. This experience will help you refine your skills, understand the dynamics of in-game officiating, and build confidence.

4. Apply for Certification

To officiate NBA games, you must become a certified referee. This typically involves completing a formal training program, passing written and practical exams, and demonstrating your ability to make split-second decisions on the court. Certification requirements may vary by region, so research the specific criteria in your area.

5. Network and Build Relationships

Networking is vital in the world of officiating. Attend clinics, workshops, and seminars to connect with experienced referees and gain valuable insights. Building relationships with mentors and fellow officials can open doors to better opportunities and career advancement.

How Much Does an NBA Referee Make in Basketball?

While the road to becoming an NBA referee is challenging, the rewards are significant. NBA referees are well-compensated for their expertise and dedication to the game. Here’s an overview of their earnings:

NBA referees can earn between $150,000 and $550,000 annually. The salary range is influenced by several factors, including the referee’s experience, the number of games they officiate, and their performance. In addition to their base salary, NBA referees enjoy various benefits, such as healthcare coverage, retirement plans, and travel allowances. Before diving into their salary, let’s explore what it takes to become an NBA referee.

How Long Does it Take to Become an NBA Referee?

Becoming an NBA referee is not a quick process. It typically requires 2 to 4 years of experience in the field or a related area. Referees must know standard concepts, practices, and procedures within the basketball officiating domain. Success in this role relies on experience and judgment, as referees are responsible for making critical decisions during fast-paced games.

Best Basketball Referee Shoes – Top Picks and Reviews

If you’re a basketball referee, you understand the importance of having the right footwear to perform your best on the court. We’ve researched and reviewed some of the top basketball referee shoes available to help you make an informed choice.

1. 3N2 Men’s Reaction Vx1 Basketball Referee Officials Shoe: Best in Classic Style

How to Become a Basketball Referee?

Key Features:

  • Material: Patent Leather
  • Color: Black Patent Leather
  • Rubber sole for excellent traction
  • Available in various sizes


  • Classic and sleek design
  • Durable patent leather construction
  • Excellent traction on the court
  • Available in multiple sizes for a perfect fit


  • Limited color options
  • Some users may find them a bit stiff initially

The 3N2 Men’s Reaction Vx1 is a classic choice for basketball referees. Made with high-quality patent leather, these shoes offer durability and style. The rubber sole provides exceptional traction, ensuring you can move swiftly on the court. While the color options are limited, the classic black patent leather design makes these shoes a top pick for referees who prefer a timeless look.

2. Smitty BKS-SC1 Professional Official’s Court Shoe: Referee’s Choice for Performance

How to Become a Basketball Referee?

Key Features:

  • Material: Synthetic
  • Color: Black
  • Low-cut design for advanced support
  • Specially designed rubber outsole


  • Affordable yet professional-looking
  • Advanced support systems for comfort
  • Lightweight cushioning and shock absorption
  • Specially designed rubber outsole for excellent traction


  • Limited size options
  • Not available in multiple colors

The Smitty BKS-SC1 is the referee’s choice for those seeking performance without breaking the bank. These shoes combine advanced support systems with lightweight cushioning and shock absorption, ensuring you can stay comfortable during long games. The specially designed rubber outsole provides outstanding traction and stability on the court. While size options are limited, these shoes offer great value for their price.

3. Under Armour Men’s Charged Assert 9 Running Shoe: Superior in Athletic Versatility

How to Become a Basketball Referee?

Key Features:

  • Material: Mesh upper with leather overlays
  • Color: Various options
  • Lightweight and breathable
  • Charged Cushioning midsole for responsiveness


  • Versatile design suitable for basketball and other sports
  • Lightweight and breathable mesh upper
  • Durable leather overlays for stability
  • Charged Cushioning midsole for responsiveness


  • Not specifically designed for referees
  • Limited color options may not match referee attire

The Under Armour Charged Assert 9 Running Shoe is a versatile option for basketball referees who engage in various athletic activities. The lightweight mesh upper provides breathability, while leather overlays offer stability. The Charged Cushioning midsole ensures responsiveness and comfort during games. Remember that these shoes are not specifically designed for referees, and the color options may not perfectly match referee attire.

The choice of basketball referee shoes depends on your preferences and needs. There’s a shoe option, whether you prioritize classic style, performance, or versatility. Make sure to consider factors like material, comfort, and traction when deciding, and you’ll be well-equipped to officiate games confidently.

Who is the Youngest NBA Referee?

JB DeRosa holds the distinction of being the youngest NBA referee. Born April 14, 1991, in Paducah, Kentucky, U.S., JB DeRosa has quickly risen. He pursued his education at Malone University and embarked on a promising career as an NBA referee, setting an inspiring example for aspiring officials.

Key Takeaway

Becoming a basketball referee, whether at the NBA level or in your local community, is a journey that demands dedication, knowledge, and experience. Remember that officiating is not just about enforcing the rules but also about contributing to the integrity and fairness of the game. You can become a respected basketball referee with the right education, passion, and perseverance.