How to become a soccer referee? [FULL Guide 2023]

If you’re passionate about soccer but need to manage the playing time and contact, it’s time to become a soccer referee. It is a great way to stay involved in the game, and if you never played then get involved. It is not only a great way to stay fit and active but also a great way to earn some extra cash. The reason why it pays well is that not everybody wants to become a soccer referee. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of becoming a soccer referee. You should try it and if you love it at the end, just shoot us a thank you note!

College football referees discussing, Texas“/ CC0 1.0

Ready to Blow the Whistle?

First things first, before you can become a soccer referee, you need to make sure you have the right mindset for the job. As a referee, you need to be confident, assertive, and able to make quick decisions on the spot. You also need to be able to handle pressure and criticism from players and coaches, while still maintaining your authority on the field.

Did you read between the lines? People will yell at you when it’s not your fault!!! We’ve seen parents yelling at referees because their kid slipped on the ball instead of kicking it. An adult player screamed at a referee that he is “ruining soccer and the world”! Yes, they sometimes shake hands at the end, but the behavior can be surreal if you haven’t played much and don’t understand why people act that way. This is the main reason why people don’t want to be referees. However, if you think you can brush that off, keep reading!

Steps to Become a Soccer Referee

To become a soccer referee, you’ll need to complete a training course and obtain a certification from your local soccer association. The cost is about $99 but can vary sometimes – check USSF. The total time is about 6 hours to complete, half of which is in person. As we said, referees are treated almost like an endemic species. In addition to the payment for each game, many clubs cover the cost of the license (and future licenses) if you commit to their club. This means that you will ref a certain number of games, which is about 20 per year, for that club. To make it fair, that also means that you will not be the referee for games of that club.

Do you know the one requirement for becoming a soccer referee? Being 13 years old. That’s it! 

Game On: Refereeing Techniques

As a referee, your job is to ensure that the game is played fairly and safely. This means that you need to know the rules of the game inside and out. At the grassroots level, i.e. the youngest competitors, there are variations in the rules. For example, the size of the field, the number of players on the soccer field, and even some other rules vary. They sometimes play with a buildout line and no heading, for safety reasons.

I always bring both coaches before the game to go over these rules, as they often coach multiple teams and don’t remember them. At the lowest levels and with the youngest groups, some rules are made up on the spot. Foul throw-ins are ignored or I ask for a retake. To be a successful referee, you need to be able to read the game, anticipate plays, and stay focused on the action at all times. Remember you manage the players, coaches, and parents, and really you are managing their frustration. 

Winning in the World of Refs

Becoming a soccer referee is a great way to get involved in the game, stay fit and active, and earn some extra cash on the side. It’s also a great way to develop your leadership and decision-making skills. As you gain more experience and confidence as a referee, you can work your way up to higher-level games and earn more money. The levels of the referees are:

Grassroots – this is what we talked about so far. 6 hours of training, 13 years of age, and you are good to start.

Regional – it is a big step from the grassroots level. You need 3 years of referee experience, 50 games as a referee, 25 games as an assistant referee, and 18 years of age.

National – at this level the requirements get even more serious. You need 2 years as Regional Referee, with 40 games as a referee and 25 games as an assistant referee. From this level up, you are invited to take the course and cannot just apply for it.

We are not going through the upper levels of Emeritus, Pro, and FIFA. If you ever get into those categories, you should contact us for a profile interview. At that level, we are not talking about a small side gig, but a different level of commitment. So if you’re ready to blow the whistle and become a soccer referee, now is the time to take the first step and sign up for a training course.