Do NFL Refs Have Other Jobs?


When you’re betting on the NFL and watching the game, you normally only think about the referee and the officials when they make a controversial call or mess up. Although we’re often quick to second guess or outright disagree with their decisions, NFL refs are highly trained individuals who often possess decades of experience at all levels of football.

Maybe when you’re taking a break from online sports betting, you’ve wondered ‘how much are NFL refs paid?’ – well, the average salary for an NFL ref is actually $250,000 per year.

Despite their experience and knowledge of the game, NFL refs are actually paid less on average than their colleagues in other major sports. Plus, being an NFL ref is only a part-time job. So it’s little wonder that many NFL refs actually have other jobs.

It may be hard to imagine, but in some instances the people who wear striped black and white shirts perform a diverse variety of secondary jobs across the country. Read on to learn more about the prestigious, fascinating, and sometimes unusual day jobs that NFL refs hold.

Dairy Farmer

  • Walt Coleman
Cows in a barn

Walt Coleman traded the gentle moos of the farm for cheering crowds on Sundays.

In our idealized imaginations, dairy farmers live a relaxed existence tending to a vast field of grazing cows. We can imagine that corralling a field of heavy-hitting football players could hardly be further away from that!

Ok, so maybe we have an idealized conceptualization of dairy farming but former NFL ref Walt Coleman excelled in both roles. An NFL ref from 1995 until his retirement in 2019, Coleman split his time between the football field and the pastures of Coleman Dairy in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Coleman’s family had been involved in the dairy industry since 1862 and now refereeing is part of the family business. His son, Walt Coleman IV, became an NFL official in 2015 and has regularly featured as a line judge.


High School Teacher

  • Tony Corrente

If you thought football players were tough to control, spare a thought for former NFL ref Tony Corrente who spent his time off the field in the classroom. Trading players for teenagers, Tony Corrente was a history and social sciences teacher at La Mirada High School in California.

If maintaining order on the football field and the classroom isn’t impressive enough, he did both while undergoing chemotherapy in 2011. Although NFL refs don’t get tackled, never doubt that they are some tough and dedicated individuals.

Aerospace Software Engineer

  • Adrian Hill

Although his job title may seem a little low-key, Adrian Hill’s day job certainly doesn’t fly under the radar. In his position at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, Adrian Hill has been a key player in multiple missions of great scientific importance.

After getting his start at NASA, Hill was involved in the New Horizons mission which designed and launched a probe to study the dwarf planet, Pluto. Hill was tasked with designing the probe’s software to enable it to repair itself on its long mission far, far from home.

Currently, Hill is working on NASA’s Dragonfly mission which will explore the largest moon of Saturn, Titan. This probe will examine the surface of Titan in a mission to “>search for the building blocks of life”. The probe is slated to launch in 2027 and reach Titan by 2034, so Hill may be waiting a while to see the fruits of his labor.

NCAA Basketball Referee

  • Gene Steratore

For Super Bowl LII ref Gene Steratore, refereeing football wasn’t enough as he also officiated at NCAA basketball games. Steratore was an NCAA Division 1 referee from 1997 until 2018 which overlapped with his NFL career from 2003.

Considering the sheer amount of rules and technical knowledge both basketball and football referees need to learn, it’s incredibly impressive that Steratore was able to keep up with both sports for almost two decades!

Chief Building Official

  • Land Clark
View of the city of Albuquerque

Land Clark oversees building permits across Albuquerque.

The chief building official is a person responsible for overseeing and enforcing building codes in their area. As such, it’s a job which requires a clear understanding of the rules and a firm, but steady hand for enforcing those rules. In short, it’s the perfect day job for an NFL ref!

Newly promoted NFL ref Land Clark splits his time between enforcing the rules on the football field and enforcing building codes in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In his role at the Albuquerque Building Safety & Permits Division, Clark ensures the safety of the citizens of the city. So ‘merely’ refereeing NFL games must be a welcome break for him!


  • Ed Hochuli

Although he’s not the only NFL ref to hold this job, the legendary Ed Hochuli may well be the most well-regarded attorney/ref out there. As a founding partner of Jones, Skelton & Hochuli in Phoenix, Arizona, Hochuli excelled in his legal career of over three decades.

Admitted to the bar in 1976, Hochuli earned plenty of accolades and went on to represent clients at the State and Federal level at the US Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit. Alongside his distinguished legal career, Hochuli would serve as an NFL ref from 1992 until his retirement in 2018.

During his illustrious refereeing career, Hochuli officiated two Super Bowls (XXXII and XXXVIII) and was refereed the first ever regular season game held in Mexico.

Few referees in any sport attain a cult following, but Ed Hochuli managed this feat and remains a firm fan favorite.

In Which Sports Do Refs Need Other Jobs?

Given the relatively high salaries of most referees, few actually need other jobs. It’s not uncommon to find NBA and NHL refs or MLB umpires who hold side jobs or dedicate their time to charity. It’s actually soccer where referees really do need other jobs.

Italian soccer referee Pierluigi Collina

Legendary Italian referee Pierluigi Collina also worked as a financial advisor.

Fans of European soccer betting probably know some famous referees but few probably know about their day jobs. English referee Howard Webb refereed the 2010 Champions League final and the 2010 World Cup Final, but his regular job was that of a police officer with South Yorkshire Police.

The salary for European soccer referees varies wildly between countries. In England, EPL referees can enjoy a fixed salary of up to $240,000 but in neighboring Scotland, referees are paid per game and can expect approximately £1,000 ($1,160) per game. This means that Scottish referees need to find an extra job.

Some even have multiple jobs – assistant referee Douglas Ross also happens to be the leader of the Scottish Conservative Party and is an elected Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) and Member of the UK Parliament (MP).

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