Have you ever considered working in tennis but don’t fancy being a coach? Maybe you started playing too late to become a professional player.
There are many jobs in tennis beyond just coaching and playing. One of which is being a line umpire.
But do linesmen earn much or even get paid at all?
Linesmen do get paid. The pay varies hugely depending on the tournament the linesman is working at. The average pay for a line umpire in 2020 was $650 per match. At grand slams, the average was $1950.
I choose to become a coach, but when I read the salaries of some of these umpires, I wonder if I made the wrong choice.
In this article I will be covering:
- The pay system used for line judges
- The pay for line umpires at Wimbledon
- The pay for linesmen at the US Open
- The pay for line judges at the Australian Open
Let’s find out who pays the most!
Are Tennis Line Judges Paid Salary Or Per Tournament?
The professional tennis season begins in January and goes all the way to November. This, therefore, means that there is only one month in the year in which tennis officials will struggle to find work.
It is thus possible to make being a line umpire a full-time job.
I have never come across a line umpire that is paid an annual salary. The main reason for this is that the tournaments are arranged by different organizers, so who would pay the compensation?
The USTA is hardly going to be enthusiastic about paying linesmen in Australia.
There are some top-level chair umpires contracted by the ATP/WTA and they do receive an annual salary.
|USTA||United States Tennis Association||Governing body for tennis in the US. Responsible for organising the US Open|
|ATP||Association of Tennis Professionals||Governing body for the top two tiers of the men’s pro tour. The ATP World Tour and ATP Challenger Tour.|
|WTA||Women’s Tennis Association||Organising body for the top tier of the women’s pro tour. The WTA Tour.|
The standard system is pay per match or day. I have never been a professional line umpire but remember viewing the jobs available after I qualified as one. This was at UK national level events.
The pay was advertised on a daily rate basis. However, it was not described as pay but reimbursements, intended to cover transport and food for the day.
The reimbursement averaged between £100-£200.
When you account for the cost of transport, food, and accommodation, it may not seem like much. However, all umpires have to start at the bottom, and there are no shortcuts. This means that if you want to one day be the chair umpire at a Wimbledon final, you have to start here.
The vast majority of line and chair umpires are self-employed. Many (especially at the lower level) will have other jobs in addition to their officiating work.
How Much Do Wimbledon Line Umpires Get Paid?
Wimbledon does not publish official stats for the pay of line umpires. However, there are 330 chair and line umpires who work at the championships each year. Approximately 270 are British or British residents. The rest come from overseas.
40 of the officials are employed exclusively as chair umpires.
It is stated on Wimbledon’s website that the LTA does not recruit umpires specifically for the championships. Instead, they must have significant training and experience from other events first.
All British officials are members of the Association of British Tennis Officials.
In 2018 Wimbledon received some negative press for the pay of their catering staff. The staff was paid £8 per hour.
This figure was lower than the London living wage.
Another headline the same year claimed that cleaning staff was forced to take food from bins due to low pay.
It should be added that many of the cleaners were subcontracted and not employed directly by the AELTC. The All England Lawn Tennis Club.
While we cannot draw a conclusion based on the experience of other staff, it can perhaps give some insight into the working conditions and reimbursement schemes for line umpires.
Jobs advertised on Wimbledon’s website do not include pay information.
How Much Does a US Open Line Judge Earn?
The information available regarding pay for US open line judges is better than for Wimbledon. It gives a better picture but is far from complete.
In 2011, the highest-rated officials earned $250 per day, which is the lowest rate for any grand slams. This $250 is in addition to the cost for the hotel room, meals, and transportation during the tournament.
For some umpires, a proportion of their travel expenses are also covered.
In 2018 a spokesperson for the US open said that the $250 figure was outdated. The spokesperson did, however, refuse to provide up-to-date information on the earnings of line umpires.
All the grand slams offer partial travel expenses for their umpires. The pay ranges between $500-$1000. The US open provides the lowest of all the grand slams.
One of the significant tennis blogs remarked on a chance meeting with one of the ITF gold badge umpires.
He described how she was very open about everything she experienced as an umpire at the US Open. However, the one thing she was not open about was pay.
There does appear to be an effort by the major tournaments to keep the pay for their umpires as confidential as possible.
Do Australian Open Linesmen Get Paid?
The Australian Open does not seem to be any better than the other two slams regarding providing stats on pay.
In 2011 the Australian Open paid AU$375 per day. They are also the only grand slam to offer overtime pay to umpires working longer than 10 hours per day.
Once again, the pay is not published by the Australian Open or Tennis Australia. It is also not clear which umpires the $375 figure applies to.
In a desperate attempt to get some more information on pay, I took to Indeed to see what former staff are writing.
On Tennis Australia’s page, there was only one review from a former line judge. However, this line judge did rate the salary/benefits as 5 stars. So make of that what you will.
The stats available are all over the place, to say the least. However, the annual figures for 2020 appear to show a dramatic increase in pay since the early 2010s.
Unfortunately, the figures that are thrown around today are difficult to fact-check. As long as the tournament organizers continue to make it hard to discover the earnings of linesmen, it will remain the same.
To get a better understanding, there needs to be more transparency.
How much do you think line umpires should get paid? What would be enough to make you want to do it?
Perhaps you’ve been a line umpire and can share your experience (and maybe even earnings?).