Become A Referee
You become a referee by attending and successfully completing a referee training course. U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) authorized two entry-level referee certifications: Recreational Referee Grade 9 and Referee Grade 8. However, Referee Grade 8 entry level is the most popular. With this in mind, we posted an Entry Level Referee Test below on this page.
To obtain more information about becoming a soccer referee, join our Referee Forum and ask our fellow referees for advice.
Here is some additional information and the specific certification criteria for the two entry-level referee positions:
- Grade 9 – Referee Certification and Recertification Requirements
- Grade 8 – Referee Certification and Recertification Requirements
State Associations Links
Please contact your state referee association for information about how to enroll in a USSF referee course. You may refer to the section below for information about State Referee Association in your area.
Information For New Referees
Once you successfully complete a referee course and register with the USSF, you will receive your badge and will need to get appropriate referee gear, including a soccer referee uniform, soccer referee flags, referee cards, whistle, watch and shoes.
USSF approved five different colors of jerseys for its referees, including gold, black, blue, green and red. You should eventually purchase all five colors (you want to be able to change your jersey in the event one of the teams wears similar colors) but the gold referee jersey is considered standard and this is the one you should buy first.
You can choose from three different soccer assistant referee flags, including checkered soccer referee flags, diamond pattern soccer referee flags and solid soccer referee flags. They all are acceptable and which ones you use are a matter of your personal taste and preference.
With respect to soccer referee whistles, FOX 40 whistles are probably the best known and most widely used referee whistles in the U.S but Acme whistles are a good choice as well. You can choose from multiple different designs such as classic or finger grip, with cushion mouth grip (CMG) or without. You should have two whistles with you at all time during your games. The most popular referee whistles are:
There are also many different types of soccer referee cards to choose from. There are, for example, referee wallets with cards, write-on referee cards and single replacement referee cards. The wallets come with one set of referee cards and may also include a flip coin holder or report form/score pads. The most popular in this category are:
You will also have to get a soccer referee watch, preferably with a timer that has a stop/start function, to keep time of the game as well as wasted and added time. You should always wear and keep the time of the game on two referee watches so that in case when one of them malfunctions the other shows the correct time. Some of the most popular referee watches are:
The cost of the referee gear that you need is not trivial, but when you consider that you are very likely to earn as much or even more than the cost of the 11 Piece Soccer Referee Uniform Package the first weekend of your refereeing career, the return on your investment is more than worthwhile.
When you have all the necessary equipment you can begin getting game assignments. The process for game assignments may vary from association to association, however, generally your assignments will come from your local assignor and will be for lower or youth level games. The game fees vary from state to state and from league to league but should be in the $50-$80 range for adult level games and somewhat less than that on youth level games. The exact game fee schedule will be provided to you by your local game assignor.