How Much Do MLB Umpires Make?

If you’re interested in a career as an umpire in professional baseball, you may be wondering, “how much do MLB umpires make?” While it may not be considered a flashy job, it’s most definitely an exciting one, and they can be compensated well with their salary well over the national median income. Discover who some of the highest-paid MLB umpires are, what major league umpire salaries are vs. other leagues, and how to land a career with an MLB team.

Major League Umpires Salary: What to Expect

How much do MLB umpires make? Major League Baseball said in 2017 that the MLB umpire salary was between $120,000 and $350,000 at that time. However, a 2020 report revealed the MLB umpire salary ranged from $110,000 to $432,800. Beyond that, umpires at the top level get daily per diem and benefits, as well as travel expenses. While you are working your way up in the minors, you will make substantially less money. The average baseball umpire salaries for Triple-A teams and Single-A teams were $3900 and $2600 monthly in 2017.

The COVID-19 pandemic did impact Major League Baseball umpire salaries. Umpires accepted a 30% pay cut for 2020, so that reduced income quite a bit.

How Much Do MLB Umpires Make for Working the World Series?

The salary of Major League Baseball umpires can be boosted during the postseason. For example, The Wendelstedt Umpire School previously reported that pay for the World Series was $20,000. Other playoff games paid $17,500 per game. 

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College vs. MLB

People often wonder how the salary of Major League Baseball umpires compares to that of college umpires. College baseball umpires make less than pro umpires do: an average of $39,739, per one industry analysis that showed top salaries reached $200,963 nationally. See above for MLB pay.

Highest Paid Umpires in Major League Baseball

While Major League Baseball does not release its salary information specific to individual top umpires, reasonable estimates are possible. As Gazette Review reported (2018), the top ten MLB umpires up to that point had received approximately $2000 per game. Each of those top officials had called 4000 or more games, so all of them likely had total earnings of over $8 million. (That per-game figure may be high – see below – although top officials score above-average earnings.)

Here are the top umpires:

  1. Bruce Froemming — 5,163 games
  2. Joe West — 5000+ games
  3. Joe Brinkman — 4505 games
  4. Derryl Cousins — 4496 games
  5. Mike Reilly — 4491 games
  6. Gerry Davis — 4468 games
  7. Jerry Crawford — 4371 games
  8. Ed Montague — 4369 games
  9. Tim McClelland — 4236 games
  10. Dana DeMuth — 4098 games.

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MLB Umpire Salary vs. Other Leagues

A Bleacher Report sports official income analysis (2017) looked at the differences in salaries of the major leagues per season/year and per game. The piece was actually focused on NFL referee pay.

How much do MLB umpires make compared to officials in other sports? Here are the averages from the piece, from most to least, with the MLB in bold:

  1. National Basketball Association (NBA): $375,000
  2. Major League Baseball (MLB): $235,000
  3. National Hockey League (NHL): $212,500
  4. National Football League: $188,322

How much do MLB umpires make per game? The same article calculated the average pay across each of the major sports leagues on a per-game basis. Baseball does not fare as well as other sports from that perspective:

  1. NFL: $11,770
  2. NBA: $4,573
  3. NHL: $2,591
  4. MLB: $1,451

Even so, if you are passionate about baseball, the opportunity to make well over six figures in that world may be incredibly compelling.

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