How To Become A Soccer Referee – The Complete Guide

Many people dream of becoming soccer referees. But what does it take to become a soccer referee? It’s essential to know what goes behind becoming a referee to sustain in the long run. 

Becoming a soccer referee typically requires working with your home state soccer association. As part of the process, you will likely need to undergo a background check and take classes.

While there are several certifications according to the state authority, there is confusion in choosing the ideal one. Before you enroll in a program, you should also know the responsibilities to decide if you can make a living out of it.  

Is Being a Soccer Referee Hard

Soccer Referee
Soccer Referee

Yes. Being a soccer referee involves high intensity of work and strong adherence to legal guidelines. With new evolution in the game, the soccer referee is also expected to stay updated with technological advancements. 

Soccer referees are compelled to adapt to technological updates as they’re also subjected to harsh criticisms when they commit errors with negligible margins. Moreover, the job is largely under pressure, and the referee is expected to cope with tough situations and handle external rage as well. 

What Skills Do You Need To Be A Referee

A soccer referee is expected to demonstrate resilience, patience, attention to detail, physical conditioning, excellent communication skills, technological knowledge, reasoning skills, and teamwork. 

According to National Careers Service, the profile of a referee is not limited to handling a player’s performance on the pitch. It’s critical for referees to think and process events with logic and appropriate reasoning. As they’re also vulnerable to pressure, staying calm and carrying tasks without errors is vital. 

A good referee necessarily holds knowledge about rules and also needs proper mental health conditions. 

What Certifications Do Soccer Referees Need

Soccer Referee Certification
Soccer Referee Certification

Soccer referees need to complete the USSF training course (Referee Grade 7/8) to be eligible to work at matches organized by the US Soccer Federation. For other events like FIFA, Referee Grades 8 & 9 are preferable. 

It’s also vital to obtain local licenses if referees are planning to work in different countries. Basic certification for soccer referees varies significantly from one country to the other.

Every state referee association follows a unique approach to signing up new referees. When it comes to universal requirements, remember to approach the state’s soccer association to know the list of modules and then take up the exam. 

What Training Do Soccer Referees Need

There are two levels of training for soccer referees – online (level 1) and personal (level 2) training. Online training covers responsibilities, signals, rules, and practices. Subsequently, personal training covers 11 hours covering practical and theory classes. 

The first step is to register at the local football association and request a basic certification course. You should complete the first level – the online course. Following this level, you should also take part in 11 hours of personal training. 

Before you begin working as a referee, a referee mentor will expect you to referee about five games (11-a-side). 

Do soccer referees have to be fit

Soccer referees should necessarily be physically and mentally fit to match the needs of the game. There are regular fitness tests to assess the multiple abilities of referees before they take part in leagues. 

Here are the basic aspects of fitness that soccer referees should possess:

  • Actively take part in high-intensity exercises 
  • Complete large distances in each match
  • Cover a 50-meter sprint within 7.5 seconds
  • Display continuous sprint ability to sustain in the match

Popular games like FIFA conduct two fitness tests for referees to assess various abilities and confirm appropriateness to the game. 

How Many Miles do Soccer Refs Run

A game lasting for 90 minutes will expect soccer referees to run about 6-8 miles. This will include assessing every aspect of the game and players that are in consistent motion. Premier League referees run about 2.6 km in 12 minutes. 

Referees need to stay active throughout the game and remain in movement, although they’re within their assigned zones. 

Can You Make a Good Living as a Soccer Referee?

Soccer Referee
Soccer Referee

Making a living as a soccer referee is feasible, and the pay begins at $25/hour as an entry-level referee. However, making a good living is probable only when you work at high-level games. Most rec-league, high school and college referees have a second job in addition to refereeing.

The pay per hour at the entry level is minimal, and referees have to hunt more jobs to meet their household needs. Since such referees work only for limited periods, they remain jobless otherwise. Once they gain adequate experience, they get paid better by working for a minimum number of hours. 

How to become a professional referee

To become a professional referee, it’s essential to hold an education degree and obtain soccer-specific training, and certification. It’s essential to look into state-specific rules for the game to know eligibility and basic guidelines. 

If you’ve decided to become a professional soccer referee, the first step is to reach out to the local sports organization to understand the courses offered. You need to cross-check if the course meets the eligibility criteria of the game as per the state. 

Note: Ensure that you have a diploma or an equivalent degree in place.

The immediate step is to register at a referee training school to take up online and personal training programs. This is the ideal method to systematically understand the game and get yourself prepared for it. 

As soon as you’re certified, you may have to advance by enrolling in various leagues and connecting with other referees. 

How Much Do Soccer Referees Make

Soccer referees earn between $25 and $70 based on the level of game and experience. Premier League in England pays about $2,000 to referees for a match, while the Champions League pays an average of $3,000 for a match. 

Spain pays the highest value of $6,354 to referees for each game. United States Soccer Federation (USSF) also pays attention to maximizing the payscales of soccer referees and spends over 4 million dollars. 

How Much Do FIFA Soccer Referees Make?

FIFA Soccer referees are paid about $70,000 for the season in addition to the per-match fee of $3,000. Assistant referees are paid about $25,000 for the season and $2,000 for each match. 

According to the list of salaries of referees posted by Goal Ball Live, FIFA pays standard rates for referees and assistant referees. 

How much do premier league referees make?

Premier leagues are paid about 41,000 USD-92,000 USD every year in addition to the per-match fee of 2,000 USD. 

How much do MLS referees make?

MLS referees are paid an average of $40,000 and can go up to $200,889, depending on the experience and market value. MLS referees are known to earn lesser compared to those from other leagues.

Do Soccer Referees Have Other Jobs?

Most soccer referees don’t engage in other jobs as they enter into yearly contracts with their respective leagues or teams. Some amateur referees take up day jobs to keep up with their regular needs. 

Do Soccer Referees Speak Multiple Languages?

English is the default language, but some referees speak two or more languages, such as Spanish, French, and Portuguese. However, there are no obligations for the number of languages to be spoken by soccer referees. 

Final Thoughts

Becoming a soccer referee is neither easy nor hard. It needs proper adherence to the state’s laws and regulations concerning the sport. However, it’s also a lucrative domain, and the pay increases with expertise and the nature of the league. 


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